Dictionary.com defines the verb phrase “sell out” as: to betray; turn traitor. Matthew 16:26 says, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Powerful words.
It seems to me, especially lately, that selling out has become an epidemic. Two specific incidents happened recently that involved witnessing my kids coming face to face with musicians who have sold out either for money or popularity or both. At Warped Tour this summer we knew the whole tone of the festival would be primarily negative, but there happened to be many Christian metal bands playing that we were excited to see. One band in particular we were looking forward to and had always had a positive message. So before their set we talked to the singer, Reece bought a poster and EP, had them signed, gave her his band’s card and talked about his music. As we were listening to their set and commenting about how nice and encouraging she was, the singer started belting out lyrics about very inappropriate things and dropping F-Bombs. I could literally see Reece’s heart drop as he looked at me with such disappointment and disbelief in his eyes as this girl whom he admired totally sold out. He demanded we give the poster and CD back but we were unable to find her. It became quite the hot topic of conversation, but the boys came to the conclusion that they had a duty to keep this in mind as they go through life and potentially have fans who look up to them as well.
We see it time and time again, especially in the music industry. Take Warped for instance. We spoke to several of our favorite bands who had not sold out, yet clearly do not make as much money or have as big of a fan base as the ones promoting drugs, sex, atheism and even flat out Satanic beliefs. We asked them how they could even play at these festivals and their response was simple: “These are the kids who need our message the most and we are here to try to be a light in the darkness. It’s really hard, but that’s our purpose.” To me that’s so courageous and noble and a crucial reminder of how powerful our words, whether as lyrics or in conversation, can be.
This weekend the band that opened for BTB was told ahead of time that they’d be playing at a family event so they needed to keep their set clean. Before they sound checked, Paul once again reminded them about the audience as there was a trampoline next to the stage with lots of little kids standing in line. So what did they do? Sang a song that repeated “You suck! You suck!” over and over along with some cursing. They apologized and said they would take that out. However, at the end of their performance they closed with the song “Detachable Penis” and clearly thought it was funny as five year olds danced around. Kudos to Paul for cutting the sound on her mic. This time the boys were more angry than shocked. I get the whole teenage angst thing and being rebellious. Trust me, been there and done a lot of that, but wouldn’t you think having 5 year olds in the audience would make you draw the line? The parent who brought them didn’t blink an eye or offer an apology. What happened to respect?
My point is, once again we see people selling out, whether it’s to be popular, shocking or whatever, but you know what gives me hope? After these 17-18 year olds obviously mocked them and us, Bryce stood on that same stage telling the audience how important it is to stand for what you believe in and to be the person God created you to be. He stressed how important it is to do what is right even when it’s not popular. For he and his band mates to stand for what’s right was a very proud moment for all of the parents.
Another instance involving the band was when someone offered to take one of their songs and tweak it so it would be more popular and get them more recognition. The catch was they wouldn’t have a say in the final product. What a tempting offer,especially for aspiring musicians! However, every single band member declined because they said if they agreed to that it wouldn’t represent who they truly are. Wow. They’re stronger than me!
We’ve all sold out for one reason or another at some point in our lives and I don’t know many people who haven’t regretted it whether it be 10 minutes or 10 years after the fact. We’re afraid in the moment to stand out or stand up for what we believe in because it’s usually the more difficult road. But another band we saw recently put it this way, ” We’ve been told over and over by the industry to just take ‘Jesus’ out of our songs and we’d have a lot more money and fans. But why would we want to sell our seat in the kingdom?” That resonated with all of us who were there. The fame and fortune of a mega-star who takes their clothes off for shock value will probably never come to any of these bands who don’t sell out. They will however, have one thing that to me means so much more: respect and the confidence in knowing that they used their lives for a greater purpose and to make a difference. I wholeheartedly pray that my kids always have the courage to continue to stand up for what is right even it it means it won’t be an easy road.
The difference will always be having hope. When we stand for what’s right, confident that God is by our side and that we will one day reap a reward so amazing we can’t even begin to comprehend it, that will always carry us through and what we do will matter immensely. Picture yourself standing face to face with God and just imagine Him smiling and saying, “Well done!” Isn’t that going to be worth it? In fact, I would even venture to say that every time we make the right choice He’s already saying that and isn’t that ultimately more important than what our friends and coworkers think? I hope I can remember this when I’m faced with the opportunity to gossip so I can fit in. Or when I can either use my money to help someone in need who may not deserve it or to buy something fun for myself because I believe I really do deserve it. It’s really hard! We don’t want to rock the boat, feel discomfort or lose our standing. So it’s a moment by moment choice — Do I sell out for the so called “dream” or do I choose the less popular path, take on some risk and do what’s right no matter what? Every time we are faced with that decision we should remind ourselves that we need to be a light in the darkness. Why would we want to sell our seat in the kingdom for something so temporary and fleeting? I hope this is something we can all continue to improve at and if we ask God to give us courage and strength, I am confident that we can.