“Dear Dukes: If you’re looking for a job, we have a new crown for you.” So states an ad by Burger King, which was followed by a tweet: “Harry, this royal family offers part-time positions.”
The company explained: “We found out that the prince and the duchess decided to give up their roles in the royal family and will work to become financially independent. So, we have a proposition for you: Do as thousands of people and take your first steps in the world of work with us. You know that the crown will suit you perfectly.”
Commentators responded that Burger King “won” the Internet for the day.
Before they were famous, Rachel McAdams was employed at McDonald’s for three years, Beyoncé worked in her mother’s hair salon, Johnny Depp sold pens, Eva Mendes served hot dogs at a food court, and Tom Cruise was a bellhop at a hotel.
My first job was at Dairy Queen; perhaps that makes me royalty as well?
Would you hire an actor to fix your plumbing?
The fact that Burger King’s offer to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is such effective advertising exposes two problems in our culture.
First, we measure value by status.
Imagine a world without food-service professionals, or construction workers, or auto mechanics, or electricians. Would you hire an actor to fix your plumbing, or a plumber to star in your next play?
My point is not to disparage or elevate celebrities or plumbers. It is to note that our society depends on multiplied millions of people who do vital jobs we seldom appreciate fully.
The same is true spiritually. Paul likened the church to a body and asked: “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?” (1 Corinthians 12:17).
The bus mechanic who changed my life
Our second mistake is that we confuse what we do with who we are.
A secular culture has only secular means of measurement. As a result, we come to believe that our worth is found in the money we make, the car we drive, or the social status we acquire.
A prostitute saved the spies of Israel (Joshua 2). A foreigner became an ancestor of the Messiah (Matthew 1:5). Paul’s life was saved by his unnamed nephew (Acts 23:16–22) and later by a Roman soldier (Acts 27:42–44). The apostle wrote seven books of the New Testament after his safe arrival in Rome.
A bus mechanic was instrumental in leading me to Christ. A high school chemistry teacher was my first spiritual mentor. My most important advisor during my first pastorate was a retired farmer.
LSU players were nearly arrested for smoking cigars
Status is fickle.
Yesterday, the Dow closed above 29,000 points for the first time in history after the signing of the US-China “phase one” trade deal. But economics and physics both teach that what goes up must come down.
The mayor of Toronto said if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex want to live in his city, “we would welcome them with open arms.” But an editorial in Toronto’s Globe and Mail claims that constitutional principles prevent senior members of the British royal family from living permanently in Canada.
After LSU’s victory Monday night, analysts are wondering if theirs is the greatest team in the 150-year history of college football. But a New Orleans policeman nearly arrested the players for smoking inside the Superdome when they lit up cigars in the locker room after the game. Another officer intervened, and no arrests were made.
“How to be a leader,” according to Plutarch
Plutarch (ca. 45–50 AD to 120–125 AD) was a Greek writer and philosopher. He produced hundreds of biographies and other writings. A new introduction to his thought, How To Be A Leader: An Ancient Guide to Wise Leadership, was published recently.
Plutarch argued that character rather than social status is vital to effective leadership. He noted: “Good political leadership depends not on formulating and executing particular policies, but on the moral development of the leaders themselves.”
Effective leadership also requires humility, as in the case of a man who transformed an “insignificant office into a great and respected honor, even though previously it had involved nothing more than overseeing the clearing of dung and diverting of water from the streets.”
Plutarch added: “No doubt even I myself provide a good laugh to people visiting our town, when they see me out in public performing similar duties, as I often do.”
Changing our culture, one soul at a time
Defining our value and identity by God’s unconditional love rather than the culture’s conditional acclaim frees us to love others whether we are loved or not. It frees us to serve others whether we are served or not.
And such loving service will change our culture, one soul at a time.
Plutarch said of the Greek king Pyrrhus, whose costly military expansionism gave rise to the phrase “Pyrrhic victory”: “Through his obsessive desire to seize what lay beyond his grasp, he constantly failed to secure what lay within it.”
Let’s not make the same mistake.