Lessons From the Demise of Whitney Houston, Greg Howse

Whitney Houston: Innocent beginnings; quick emergence to superstar status; fame and fortune; slow but sure destruction; multiple attempts to recover; tragic pre-mature death.

This story involving music people who arrive at high levels of fame has been repeated way too many times. Whitney Houston is the latest tragedy in a long string of these heartrending human processes of abuse and addiction that lead to pre-mature death.

The concern being presented in this writing is one for the young generation that is now emerging to the forefront. We have many beautiful, talented, gifted, and yes, anointed young people who are currently standing at the beginning of the journey to fame and fortune. Whitney Houston stood in that place many years ago. What are we going to do to prepare these young creative innovators in how to manage the pressure that comes with fame?

Strong and consistent communication is one method of preparation we can develop. We can continuously communicate the privileges that come with celebrity, but also the pitfalls of fame. What is the proper view of fame? Is fame deserved, or is it a privilege? What responsibilities are connected to fame? What is the healthy mind set that will empower a young person to carry the stress of fame without cracking under the pressure? What lessons can be witnessed in the shifting values of a star like Beyonce? How can a young person avoid the pitfalls of a party girl like Lindsey Lohan? Is it possible to track the disastrous journey of Whitney Houston? What caused her to choose Bobby Brown? What caused Rihanna to choose Chris Brown? What caused some of the interesting behavior we witnessed with Michael Jackson? There are obvious privileges and obvious pitfalls. How can we effectively communicate both to the young generation? How do we gently, but aggressively push the conversation when our young people don’t want to listen anymore? We must find a way.

We can improve our presentation of life foundations. Biblical values are the basis for human morality. The Ten Commandments were given by God to provide humanity with a base line on how to live a successful life. Choices are so huge in life. How would Whitney Houston’s life and career have been different if she had chosen relationships? Proverbs 13:20 will tell us if we connect with wise people we will increase in wisdom; but if we connect with fools we will be destroyed. How can we communicate this truth to young people in a way that will be appealing to them? Former President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The right thing to do never requires any subterfuge; it is always simple and direct.” The “right thing” is always the wise thing. Stephen Covey said, “Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things.” The Covey quote addresses one of the issues of fame. Fame seems to push people into doing more things, and doing more things faster, in order to keep the momentum of a career building toward increasing popularity. Biblical values and righteous choices will lead a young emerging star to slow down the process. How can we teach our young people to control the process instead of allowing the process to control them? We must find a way.

We can also improve the life examples we are presenting to the young generation. How can we teach the young ones about making wise moral choices when we are captured in our cycles of immorality? Our marriages must be strong and healthy. Unmarried parents must live in emotional stability and moral purity. We must live our lives in holiness, which can be defined as single-mindedness. Our realization is that everything matters. We cannot afford to behave one way inside the church building, and then another way when we leave the building. We cannot chastise our teenagers about the way they dress, and then intentionally dress as provocatively as possible. We cannot manage our finances in dishonest or “shaky” ways, and then expect our young stars to effectively manage the fortune that could come their way. We cannot continue in our attempts to form identity by performance and pleasing people. That example will lead our children to emotional instability, cycles of rejection, co-dependency, and possible disaster.

The day after Whitney Houston passed away I was watching the video of her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Super Bowl. No one has ever sung the National Anthem like she did that evening. She looked so vibrant, alive, and filled with joy. Her voice was absolutely glorious. She moved an entire nation with that one song, that one appearance. And then came the video of Ms. Houston at the Michael Jackson celebration in 2001. She looked like skin-covered death. We must search for and discover effective ways to prepare our young ones for success so we don’t have to witness that level of destruction again. Will our passion be stirred? Will we initiate an approach to our young ones? Will we have the strength to endure to the finish? We must find a way.

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