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The Life Less Traveled

November 03, 2010
When I was a senior in high school, I campaigned to be voted "Most Likely To Be President." It just seemed like the fair way to get it. After all, we're talking the presidency here.

So, between classes, I began to shake as many hands as I could and bombard my fellow students with my clever campaign slogan: "Jason Byerly, most likely to be president. Vote for me." Once the votes were counted, it was no contest. I won my first and only election and have the yearbook to prove it. It was one of my finest moments.

I can't imagine running in a real election. My hat goes off to anyone who would even give it a shot. Think about how much money and time have been spent just this election season by politicians to get people to like them enough to vote for them.

After all, public opinion is the gold standard of politics. Political careers live or die by what happens in the polls. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. It's just the way it works, right?

The weird thing, though, is that there are a whole lot of us who aren't public servants but live our lives like we're constantly up for re-election. It's like our whole life is a campaign to win public opinion.

Why do we sometimes care so much what other people think?

I've never run for office, yet I've spent way too much of my life living or dying by other people's opinions. I've lied, compromised my values and bent over backwards in ways both big and small to try to make people think I'm better, smarter, funnier, richer or more like them than I really am. I've laughed at jokes, gossiped about friends and pretended to like things I don't like or not to like things I do, all to curry favor with people who probably didn't change their opinion of me one way or the other.

That's one of the things I love about Jesus. He didn't care. He honestly didn't care what people thought about Him. The only opinion that mattered to Jesus was His Father's, who said at the start of His ministry, "This is my Son, whom I love. With Him I am well-pleased." God's opinion was all Jesus needed, and that opinion never changed. That's what gave Him the guts to always say what He needed to say and do what He needed to do.

Someone once told me to try inserting my own name in that verse and imagine the God who created me speaking His approval over me. "This is Jason, whom I love. With him I am well-pleased." Wow, sounds too good be true, doesn't it? And, yet, it is true. As that truth sinks into your head and your heart, it can change everything.

Imagine being able to speak your mind, to offer an honest opinion with no fear. Imagine making decisions that you know everyone around you will hate, even though it's the right thing to do.

How about today we officially declare election season to be over? How about we all decide to retire from the politics of public opinion and relax in the freedom of living for only one opinion? I don't know about you, but living with that kind of freedom gets my vote any day of the week.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more from Byerly, visit www.jasonbyerly.blogspot.com.

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    Jason, the man
    November 09, 2010 | 06:39 AM

    You are like a young man who would make most anyone proud. I look forward to reading you column. You don't need to change to please anyone. Just be Jason and all will be well.

Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
11 - 18 - 18
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