Tell Me “No” Or I’ll End Up Like Elvis, Michael, and O.J.

I’m like everyone else. I have daydreamed about what it would be like to score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. I’ve thought about what it would feel like to sing a song I’d written to a stadium full of people, who were singing it back to me. I’ve wondered what it would be like to have adoring fans ask me for my autograph while I ate a burrito at Taqueria Vallarta. Let’s be honest, it would be fun.

At the same time, too much of that kind of stuff could be dangerous to my soul and to my health. Think about Elvis. Over a period of time he found himself living in a world where everything he wanted was given to him. No one questioned the wisdom of his decisions. His was a world of the constant “yes” to his every whim. Think about Michael Jackson. He eclipsed the first King of Pop, to become the new King of Pop, and just like Elvis he too created a world where he was surrounded by sycophants who never told him “no” and always supported his desires, secrets, and addictions with a ready “yes.” Think about O.J. Simpson. Over the course of his football career, and growing fame that spread to movies and Hertz commercials, he was able to create a persona that leveraged just about everything he wanted for himself. His fame grew to the point he could physically abuse his wife and not suffer the consequences. He simply lived in a world of the constant “yes” to his desires. We all know the great tragedies of what happened to each of these men. All three men had their lives destroyed because “no” completely disappeared from the vocabulary of their lives. Think about that. Elvis, Michael, and O.J. needed someone to care enough about them to confront them with their growing pride, and tell them “no” when they needed to be told “no” for the sake of their soul, their sanity, and even their physical well-being.

Look – as much as we all daydream about Elvis, Michael or O.J. kinds of fame – I actually think it destroyed them. They are living illustrations of how much we all need (we don’t want it but we need it) to be told “No!” Our sanity, and the health of our soul require that we be small, and if all we ever get is “yes” to our every whim, it actually will kill us.

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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