Hollywood Actor Denzel Washington Tells Students to Put God First
By Michelle S. Lazurek, Contributing Writer for MOVIEGUIDE®
“Put. God. First.”
These three words rang out from the microphone as Denzel Washington challenged the graduates of Dillard University this past Saturday. The audience erupted in applause at many points throughout his short yet eloquent speech including his statement that “the most important thing that stayed with me since is that I’ve been protected, I’ve been directed, I’ve been corrected. I’ve kept God in my life, and it’s kept me humble.” This perspective is rare for a Hollywood actor to uphold, and even rarer to promote publicly.
However, the idea of putting God first is much easier said than done. Many times Christians spend months, even years, praying for sick loved ones, a new job or a prodigal child, while God has another plan. How can a Christian put God first?
For many Christians, the roads we walk with God are far from straight. More often than not, the temptations and trials of life derail us and we fall midst the bumps and curves of the road. As Washington said, “I have not always stuck with Him, but He has always stuck with me. Stick with him in everything you do.”
Perhaps the key to putting God first is in the story Washington shared about when he spoke to his mother when he was first beginning to make it in Hollywood as an actor. He said, “Ma, did you ever think that I would get so big and have all this money, and I would be able to take care of everybody, and I can do this, and I can do that?’ She replied, ‘Boy, stop it right there, stop it right there. If you only knew how many people have been praying for you and how many prayer groups I put together and how many prayer cloths I gave you and how many times I splashed you with holy water to save your sorry behind. I’ll tell you what you can do by yourself, you can go outside and get a mop and bucket and wash those windows. That’s what you can do by yourself.”
Washington’s mother is a wise woman. After all, wasn’t it Jesus who said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing?”
Fruit rarely grows in isolation. It is only together with others, tethered by the vine that gives it life, can it truly grow on to bear fruitfulness. Perhaps putting God first is easier than I have made it out to be. Maybe it simply means to realize we can do nothing by ourselves and walking in humility everyday not only with God, but with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Then and only then can our paths become straight.
So, tonight, when you lie down to sleep, take Washington’s advice. Tomorrow, remember to get on your knees. Thank Him for His grace, His understanding and the people God has put in your life so you don’t have to walk this path of life alone.
Editor’s note: Michelle S. Lazurek is a pastor’s wife, bible teacher, mother, author and speaker who helps ordinary people transform into extraordinary disciples. She is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and writes articles on leadership for places such as Charisma Magazine’s Charisma News and Christianity Today’s Gifted For Leadership. In her book Becoming the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, she teaches Christians the essentials of discipleship found in the book of John. She gives discipleship tips on her blog www.michellelazurek.com.