Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Reluctant Hero . . . or Maybe Not So?

Oh Greg, my goodness! Many of you may know that my personal hero (so claimed here a few months ago) is under investigation for misinforming the public about his work, and worst possible accusation--financial fraud.

I must first give an obvious disclaimer . . . I have no real clue as to what the real story is. I have no personal insights more than the average person.

With that said, I think, like with most of life, the two extremes are most unlikely. On the evil side, I think it is unlikely that Greg is a "complete fraud" from the same mold as a Benny Hinn (or 99% of TV evangelists).

On the saintly extreme, I don't think that Greg is perfect and all the criticism is part of some satanic plot to discredit his good work (or if you are not so spiritually inclined, an opportunistic reporter trying to destroy a good man just to get attention).

Like the complexities of life itself, I'm sure that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I suspect that Greg is a decent man, but like me, is prone to self-promotion and seeking a boosting of his feelings of self worth by the praise of others. I suspect, on the financial front, he is simply rather sloppy. I could be proven wrong later.

I've said before, that when I've gone on "philanthropic trips," I suspect that 10% of my motives are purely for the good of the people I've come to serve. The other motives are made up of a personal desire for adventure and the lifting of my feelings of self worth by the praise of others.

I can remember when our small town newspaper did a front page story (and it covered most of the front page) about me going to Pakistan after the earthquake. I gloated. I drove to work that morning with a spring in my step and my chin a little higher. I wish that the photo of me had been a little clearer as I was dying for someone to run up to me and say, "Hey, aren't you that guy who went to help the poor Pakistanis?" However, that never happened. But I did know that everyone who knew me would know it was me. I got to speak in front of my church. That was a double self-worth boosting experience. They thought I was a decent person and more godly too.

So, my experience (newspaper story) is <.01% of the attention that Greg gets. So could all his praise have gone to his head? Of course. We are all human and far more deceitful, self-centered than any of us would readily admit.

For now Greg is still my hero, even if only 10% of what he has done was true. I still believe in his cause, even if he has exaggerated his accomplishments by a hundred fold. I hope that he has not lied about the money.

But our heroes must be broken, fallen and vulnerable. If he turns out to be a complete fraud . . .yeah, I will have to take him off my pedestal.


PRS & ALS said...

I'm like you in secretly liking to feel important and good and like I've done something worthwhile and that people are going to praise me for what I've done. It's something I feel bad about from time to time and bring before God. But then I still go on feeling good about being recognized for doing good. Is this something that most people struggle with and does it ever go away? Or is it just part of the human condition?

jmj said...

I think it is part of the human condition. Not to excuse it. But I was always taught in my Evangelical days about having "pure motives." We really thought that most of our actions, if we were decent Christians, were done with pure motives. Meaning, not one bad motive mixed in.

I'm beginning to think that Freud understood the fall better than most Christian theologians. Were most of our motives are from very ego-centric and primal places. But then (superego, according to Freud) we work hard to cover our trail so we can look like we did them out of good reasons.

We had a interesting guy in our Nav group. He was a missionary kid, having grown up in the Congo bush. He saw through our American culture so clearly.

After he attended a "Determining God's Will for Your Life" seminar, he commented to me something like, "The bottom line that we always do what we want to do. We want to do certain things from a variety of simple and selfish reasons. Some of them are so basic as, it will make us look good, or I want to be part of her Bible study because she has nice boobs (okay, he really said that). So this determining God's will thing is where we spend a lot of effort, a lot of mental gymnastics, trying to make our choices look spiritual when none of them really are."

H. Lee said...

I doubt that any human can count on his or her motives being "pure." But I don't think that means we have to be cynical (or at least I hope not). If we wait until our motives are crystal clear and clean, we'll wait forever to do anything. As you said, jmj, it's part of the human condition, and maybe that's OK.

I once did something vaguely brave and heroic, and I believed and believe that I was directed to do so by God. But can I be sure? Can we ever be sure? I could have done it because I've often thought of myself as cowardly, and this would prove to myself that I wasn't. Or maybe I liked the publicity, the good news stories about me. Or maybe, since I'd had two major losses in my life only months before, I was doing this "heroic" thing because there was a chance I could be killed, and I secretly wanted that. Or maybe I was just showing off. Who knows? Who can tell? The important thing is to do what you *believe* is right, and leave the outcome to God. If you land in a mess, ask Him to help you get out of it.

Greg started schools for girls in a grim, mysogynistic society. Not all of them are functioning, but some of them are. More girls are educated, and thus freer, now than when Greg first stumbled, or didn't stumble, into that little village on the mountains. For that, bless him.

jmj said...

H Lee, I agree. Even if the motives are not from a 100% pure place, the good that comes is still good. If Greg started one school, then that school is still a good thing, even if his motives were mixed.