I have been thinking about this whole Lance Armstrong thing. I find that I am happy to see him come down off the pedestal. Not because I didn't like him but because in some weird way I like to see people fall.
I am a big fan of the whole hard working athlete thing. I have watched various portions of the Tour de France several times. I also love to watch the Olympics, to see the competitions, to hear the stories of training, discipline and sacrifice that each athlete made to reach that level of success. And I will point to those accomplishments and those people both for myself and my children as examples of what you can do with hard work and discipline. But does success in one area of life mean success in all?
As a culture we put people on pedestals and then act shocked when they turn out to be imperfect. We watch those same people on the pedestal fight in an attempt to prove they deserve to be there. I think I am happy to see them fall because it is real. Only one person can stand on the pedestal and not fall, Jesus. He is the only one who will never disappoint us, whose example we can follow fully knowing it is the best example.
With fallen Lance there are plenty of other hard working athletes out there to replace him. Michael Phelps comes to mind. Big goals, big success, lots of hard work. With all his press and endorsements he is definitely on his way to having Lance's level of media success. But before we pop him up on a pedestal we need to remember that we don't know everything about him. Could he disappoint us in the future? Ryan Hall, US Olympic marathon runner, godly Christian man who does missions work in Africa on the side. Gabby Douglas, Gold medal gymnast and another Christian athlete. How about them? Can we put them on the pedestal? Unfortunately history tells us that men and women of Faith fall to the same temptations as those who do not know Him. We cannot know what choices have been made or will be made in the future. Only Jesus was tempted and stood up to Satan. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom 3:23
So, What? Should we not have any role models but Christ? Should we constantly look upon people with doubt and assume disappointment? Not at all. People are complex. We both fail and triumph. I guess that is what I like about this fall of Lance Armstrong. The reality of an imperfect yet complex person who has done both good and bad. We can be inspired by his success and learn from his failure.
I will always look to be inspired by people, the choices they make and the triumphs they achieve but I will always remember that they are just people, like you or me.