Where Popularity Misses the Mark


We all have those red-letter days: milestone dates we recognize—even as they are happening—as days that define us. We don’t just remember the event; we remember the date on the calendar. Life-shaping dates on my calendar include:

  • My anniversary
  • The births of both my sons
  • The first day I started my current ministry

You have similar dates on your calendar. It’s rare if two life-defining moments happen on the same date, but they do. It did for Richard Nixon.

Indelibly marked on Richard Nixon’s calendar is August 8. It’s circled twice.

Nixon had a long career in politics that reached its pinnacle on August 8, 1968 when he was nominated to run for president by the Republican National Convention. In a period of civil unrest, growing opposition to war, and a quickly changing moral landscape, Nixon stood for law and order—and he was popular.

“Tonight I do not promise the millennium in the morning. I don’t promise that we can eradicate poverty and end discrimination in the space of four or even eight years. But I do promise action. And a new policy for peace abroad, a new policy for peace and progress and justice at home.”

Nixon could have been remembered as one of our better presidents.

  • Nixon was strong in foreign relations, easing tension and building relationships with both China and Russia.
  • Nixon did much for the environment. He tackled issues like growing pollution and initiated the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Nixon ended the highly unpopular draft and gained increases for those serving in the military.

Nixon could have been remembered that way, but unfortunately, August 8 was circled on his calendar a second time. On August 8, 1974, eight years to the day after his popular and celebrated nomination, Nixon resigned in disgrace.

Popularity does not override our actions.

Culture’s attitude toward celebrities seems to override that idea. Musicians, actors, and athletes can behave badly, get some tabloid press for a few weeks, but remain high in ticket sales. We overlook serious character flaws because they entertain us. But I disagree with our culture’s willingness to look the other way.

Actions matter. Character matters.

It doesn’t matter how popular we may ever be; that popularity fades. And we’re still left with our character—and the results of our actions. It doesn’t matter how much other people loves us and approve of us; what matters is having God’s approval.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved” (2 Tim. 2:15). 

Seek Christ. Seek His approval. And character—the right kind of character—will follow.

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33).

 

Share this post with others. Encourage them to seek the approval that matters.

 

 

 

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