This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but a new study reports self-regard, self-promotion, and plain old bragging are far more prominent in pop music than they were a quarter-century ago. The authors of the study note that, in 1990, blatant bragging was basically confined to rap music. The study analyzed the lyrics of the top 100 songs from the years 1990, 2000, and 2010, as compiled by Billboard magazine. Coders looked for examples of eight categories of self-promotion, including referring to oneself by name and demanding respect. The study concluded: Compared with earlier years, songs in 2010 were more likely to include the singer referring to the self by name, general self-promotion, and bragging about wealth, partner’s appearance, or sexual prowess. This preoccupation with self reflects the growing tendency toward narcissism in our culture. We advance ourselves and promote ourselves and advertise ourselves. This may seem to work well so long as we’re succeeding in our pursuits. But it is devastating to our identities when we fall short. Failing to reach the mark is a crushing blow to anyone whose self-worth is grounded in accomplishment and performance.
Sports Illustrated had named Rhonda Rousey the “world’s most dominant athlete.” And she had had quite a run at that point: the first US woman ever to win an Olympic medal in Judo; the youngest woman to ever qualify for the Olympics, at age 14; consistently one of the top three ranked judo champions in the world before transitioning into mixed martial arts, where she quickly dominated and became a world champion; going into November of last year, she was 12-0 as an MMA fighter, and only one fighter had ever even survived the first round … eight of her twelve challengers were defeated in less than a minute. And then, in November 2015, she lost—badly. In an interview shortly after that devastating loss she said, “I was literally sitting there and thinking about killing myself and at that exact second I’m like, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? And, no one cares about me anymore without this.'” Her whole identity was based on her image as the “most dominant athlete in the world.” She felt like she was good for nothing. Last week, she suffered another humiliating loss in the ring—I wonder where her self-esteem is today?
Success usually translates into getting enough wealth or fame or popularity. But what will ever be “enough”? Comedian Jim Carrey reflected this struggle a few years ago while serving as emcee for the Golden Globes ceremony. Before announcing the nominees for Best Motion Picture in Comedy, he said to Hollywood’s elite: “I am two-time Golden Globe Winner, Jim Carrey. You know, when I go to sleep at night, I’m not just a guy going to sleep. I’m two-time Golden Globe winner, Jim Carrey, going to get some well-needed shut-eye. And when I dream, I don’t just dream any old dream. No sir. I dream about being three-time Golden Globe winning actor, Jim Carrey. Because then I would be enough. It would finally be true. And I could stop this terrible search for what I know ultimately won’t fulfill me.” The audience laughed. But the reality is, reaching for more success ultimately leaves us empty. The question is, if a Golden Globe (or three) will not satisfy us, what will?
The bible teaches that our worth is not anchored in our performance or achievements. Our worth is grounded in our relationship with God through Christ. Christ announced our value when He went to the cross on our behalf. We don’t have anything left to prove—He solidified once and for all the fact that we are people of immense value. There’s no need to advertise ourselves—because our worth has nothing to do with image or success-it has only to do with being a child of God!