Oscar Pistorius is the latest in a long line of celebrity/role models to have fallen from grace over the last few months. The shock news that he may have murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp has left fans of the ‘Blade Runner’ devastated.
Tabloids daily rummage through the private lives of our heroes in ‘the public interest’, gathering salacious tit bits to parade before the baying mobs. Some heroes from the golden age of 70s television successfully avoided the attentions of the law for decades, others are not so fortunate.
Being a kid that grew up watching ‘Jim’ll fix it’ I have to confess that it feels like a part of my childhood has been ripped, unceremoniously away.
The more recent confessions of Lance Armstrong, multiple Tour de France ‘winner’ has shaken the world of professional cycling to the core. In a recent interview in The Telegraph, Team Sky’s Ian Boswell, a one-time mentee talks, about how Armstrong’s doping, lying and fraud have affected him.
“He was an inspiration but then it’s gone, kind of a fraud. It’s sad but it’s history now.”
Bradley Wiggins was less philosophical;
“I thought, ‘You lying b*****d’. I don’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth anymore.”
More celebrities seem to be added daily to the list – the overwhelming feeling is; who can you trust?
I’m reminded of a good friend who told me how his father had taught him about the importance of trust. Instructing his son to stand on top of the dressing table with his back to him, my friend’s father then instructed him to ‘close your eyes and fall back’ with the reassurance that ‘I will catch you’. As my friend fell back into the void between the innocence of child hood and the cruel realities of a harsh world, his Father neatly, stepped to one side, my friend cascading to the floor in a tumble of limbs and tears. “Son – never trust anyone.”
It’s not a great maxim for life, but role models matter. I know. Like it or not, as a teacher, students watch how I live every day and, every weekend.
Shopping in Sainsbury’s (other stores are available) I can often hear whispers of, ‘It’s Sir! That must be his wife!’ More often than not, I keep my head down and get on with the day.
Monday morning always seems to follow the same pattern. ‘Hi Sir. I saw you in …(add store of your own choice here, but leave out Ann Summers, betting shops and houses of ill repute … and Tesco’s.)
It’s scary being a role model. Every word that comes out of my mouth in the classroom is weighed; every parent that I meet is inspecting me in a way that makes OFSTED look like Clouseau. Students will watch to see how I react to bad language, fights, inappropriate behaviour, and uniform atrocities.
As a Christian, how I live my life in public matters, what I say and what I choose not to say, how I act and react all impact the lives of others and can either advance the Kingdom of God or diminish its value in the eyes of others.
Teaching doesn’t leave too much time for hours of Bible study and reflection, my prayers are often snatched attempts at grace as I drive to work, begging God to give me all that I need, to be more than a role model, more than an idol to admire, but salt and light.
Paul’s letter to the Philippian’s remains for me my maxim for daily living. It really is only by the grace of God that I can stand. We all have feet of clay. ‘Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.’ As our idols fall, will you be one of the last men standing?
This week’s blog is a guest post from Brian Rice.