The Other Open Letter to Justin Bieber

Dear Justin,

In my earlier letter, I suggested that vision is vital preparation for the final judgment.  I meant what I said, and I’ve repeated it here so that it might percolate in your mind.  You see, when we talk about vision, one trap that seduces us far too often is thinking of vision as some mystical or intangible blessing from the spiritual realm.  Don’t fall for that; I describe vision as preparation because that’s exactly what it is.  It’s a plan or a strategy for life; vision, properly understood, is a purpose or a cause to which you devote yourself.  And it looks to me like that is the main thing missing from your life.

I understand your life is unlike the life of anyone I know, but that’s the whole point.  Your abilities and your possessions will master you if you do not master them, and the mastering of them requires devoting you and all you have to a purpose.  You already know you’re reaching the point at which you’ll have to make changes; your days as a youthful phenom are nearing their end, and while whole bad-boy thing may permit you to prolong your musical career for a few years, it’s a path that inevitably leads to rehab, but only after it destroys either most or all of the hope in your life.  You can harness your gifts for a purpose/vision greater than yourself, or you can end up a bankrupt and broken rehab recidivist by age 27.  This isn’t exactly a difficult choice.

There may not be a limit to what you could do for other people with your money and fame – Jerry Lewis is an unfunny accident of history, but look what he achieved.  It’s trite to tell you that you can do anything, and for most people it’s a naked lie.  But not for you.  The only limit is your vision; to that end, consider these possibilities as you continue to ask God to give you a vision:

1)  Write the music the church should be singing.  Before David slew Goliath, he was a musician.  And long after he became the great king of legend – a king with a powerful army, significant wealth, a large family, and more than a few beautiful wives – he still wrote music.  In fact, that’s what the Psalms (roughly ½ of which he wrote) are: songs.  David’s music has lasted for 3,000 years so far, and it has formed the backbone of two religions for most of that time.  All of which means that David would have been immortal even if he’d never become the greatest of kings, and raises the question of whether or not something similar could be within your reach.  After all, isn’t your youthful ascendancy reminiscent of David?  Why not write the songs that will minister to God’s people for the next few millennia?

2) Start a music academy.  Think about Michael Jackson’s Neverland, and how he (allegedly) used it like candy to draw children into his, ahem, grasp.  Now imagine the same type of escapist retreat put to use to teach selected musicians to write and perform music.  What young artist wouldn’t want in?  You could use it to support the arts in your native Canada (for most of us, the phrase “Canadian Arts” brings to mind nothing but aggressive forechecking and creative pronunciations of the letter ‘O’).  You could use it to train a generation of songwriters for the church.  You could use it to enrich yourself with your own music label, while making the world sing in perpetuity.  These are all realistic possibilities.

3) Use your money to support the faith you claim to hold.  Pastors and missionaries (at least the evangelical ones) get paid like violent felons on work-release.  You can’t change that everywhere, but you could endow a few dozen new pastors (or missionaries).  Through them (and their ministries), your efforts could change thousands of lives.  Compare that with the legacies of other teenage pop-stars, and I think you’ll agree it would be a win.  Also, Jesus will probably see it that way too.

4) Spend the rest of your life giving.  You could always spend your life giving away what you have, and if you did it judiciously, you’d never be in want.  Obviously, this applies to your money, but I’m talking about more than that.  You can give away your time, and you could give away your talents too.  The best part of this idea, meanwhile, is that you don’t have to give it all away to the same thing year after year or even day after day; you can continually change it up, so you never have to get bored.  Not many humans ever reach this freedom to eliminate boredom through innovative charity, but you’re there.  Why not enjoy it?

The visions outlined above are merely four of thousands of options, each of which could be completely in line with what you have yourself claimed is in your heart.  Most importantly, each of these visions is bigger than you.  That’s the key to living a meaningful life, after all: live it for something or someone greater than yourself.  Do that, and you can avoid becoming another cautionary tale of talent wasted and youth gone Lohan.  Alternatively, you can stick with your present path and we’ll be able to use Bieber metaphorically instead of Lohan.  How’s that for a legacy?

Your foolish friends will tell you that you have it all.  You don’t.  But if you follow the steps outlined in my first letter and start pondering your vision, you can acquire the missing piece.  Just remember to make time to listen after you ask Jesus for a vision.

Hope this helps stimulate your thinking, and I’m glad we could have this talk,


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