Most of us knew of Whitney Houston as a world-class entertainer, but we should remember that she was also a daughter, a mother, a friend and a family member to so many others. She was also a role model to millions for much of her life, and very likely a believer in Jesus Christ. Whitney Houston’s Early Death: What Can We Learn? There’s much speculation in the media and on the street as to the cause of her death, but what ever it was, it was still a tragedy. Her death should be a reminder to us all of the frailties of the human condition. Even the mighty are not exempt. In John 8:7, Jesus commanded us “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Since we’re all sinners, we’d do well to heed His warning and refuse to join in the speculation. Sadly, Whitney Houston is hardly unique among celebrities in coming to an early end. Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, James Dean, River Phoenix, Marilyn Monroe and countless other celebrities lived for far less than what anyone would consider to be a normal lifespan. What is the common thread—is it drugs and alcohol—or is it something else, something that perhaps causes the dependence on them? What is it that not even fame and fortune seem to be able to overcome? Stars—even superstars—seem particularly vulnerable no matter how privileged their lives may seem to the rest of us. That fact should humble us all and cause us to count our blessings for being “ordinary”. The Benefits of Being Ordinary What causes celebrities—who seem so well positioned in life—to live lives that often look far more like nightmares than dreams? And what do we—the merely ordinary—have to be thankful for? 1. Money and Finances Imagine you earn millions of dollars, but you don’t have the slightest idea where it comes from, where it is, or where it goes. That’s how money often works with celebrities. As rule, celebrities don’t manage their money—they create entertainment. Money is often a mystery to them, so they hire others to manage it for them. That money is often mismanaged, which is why so many celebrities end up broke or in bankruptcy. They make a lot, but it goes out even faster. They’re often surrounded by costly entourages. In order to free themselves to perfect their craft, they hire people to do everything from choosing their wardrobes to the aforementioned job of money management, and there’s a salary attached to each. Then there’s the lifestyle—a world dominated by mega-mansions, custom built cars, extended vacations to exotic locations, million dollar wardrobes—you name it. The entourage is often included in the spending sprees. As ordinary folks, we may not earn millions of dollars, but with what we do earn we often have much more control over both spending and saving than celebrities do. We can’t/don’t/won’t assign the crucial task of money management to others—which means we also become more self-reliant, and that builds confidence, too. That’s a blessing. 2. Career Direction Celebrities often have less career control than we think. They’re only as good as their last movie, concert, album, TV show or sports season. A couple of bad performances can lead to a huge drop in income. And a shift in public tastes to a new style or genre of entertainment can spell the end of a rich career. Imagine living with that every day, no matter how popular you are right now. While it’s true that we all face the prospect of changing circumstances, the stakes for ordinary people are lower. Our careers don’t shift on something so subtle and instantaneous as public opinion, and it’s generally easier to replace a $50,000 income than one that brings in millions. I think that’s a blessing too. 3. Freedom of Worship As a “regular Joe” I can be part of any religion I like, worship in any way I choose and I’m free to witness my faith to others. For celebrities, the opposite is often true. Consider the following: Celebrities usually have a flock of faithful followers—being worshipped can get in the way of worshipping—we’re all human and it does have an effect. The entertainment industry is not the most faith-friendly environment. Often, when an entertainer declares faith openly, the phone stops ringing. In an industry dependent on shifting public tastes, being outrageous has become standard operating procedure—faiths based on objective standards of right and wrong are hard to blend into the equation. You can go into the business as a believer and lose your grip on your faith in short order. As ordinary folks, we have far greater freedom to live out our faith journey. Let’s celebrate that blessing. 4. Privacy I don’t know that it’s possible to comprehend the blessing of privacy until you don’t have it. Ordinary people have it. We go out in public and we’re ignored by everyone around us, or we can retreat to the privacy of our homes where we won’t be bothered. Celebrities live in a fish bowl; every public move they make chronicled by someone somewhere, and if they aren’t doing anything newsworthy, stories can quickly be made up. How would our lives be if we had that to deal with? 5. The Myth of Perfection Celebrities live in a world where appearances are everything. They can’t be real—they have to be something better, something special—they’re stars. The public demands it! Worse, they must be forever young—try pulling that off as middle age sets in. What do you suppose these expectations do to a celebrity’s emotional state? I think we see the evidence all the time. It’s an impossible standard that not even the rich and famous can handle comfortably. Have you ever considered what a blessing it is to be able to go to the supermarket in worn overalls or socks that don’t match? We can do that. No one will take our pictures to send to the National Intruder to be used as the basis of a headline proclaiming “Joe Everyday on the Edge of Bankruptcy (or Is On Drugs, or other baseless claims)”. 6. Grip on Reality When performing is what you do all the time, the line separating performance from reality can get fuzzy, and this has an effect on everything else we’ve discussed so far. Your fans adore you, the media sings your praises, and large companies pay you to endorse their products. After a time, you might start to believe that you’re actually as great as people think you are. If you came on the scene as a child star—as many do—it’s even worse because you don’t know any other life. But on some level, perhaps in the dark of the night, the celebrity’s inner child must be crying out, “I’m not as perfect as all of these people think I am—I’m just…me—and I’m scared.” How does that get reconciled with public perception? I often believe that drug and alcohol abuse, outrageous behavior, wild partying and keeping company with questionable or dangerous “friends” form the “bridge” that celebrities use to fill the gap between reality and the fantasy lives they live. The outcome is all too familiar these days. Whitney Houston’s talent was a blessing for the entire world. Yet it’s at times like these, when yet another celebrity dies all too young, that we need to celebrate the blessing of being ordinary. As Jesus asked, ”What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). For that reason, we need to be in prayer for celebrities. Not heap scorn on them, and certainly not worship them. And sometimes we need to count our blessings that we’re just ordinary folks. How else is it a benefit to be ordinary? What are your thoughts on Whitney Houston and what can we learn from her life? Leave a comment below! Related Articles: Be A Blessing | 10 Creative Ways To Give How to Change the World by 5pm! Millionaire today, broke tomorrow? 5 Bible verses about money every Christian should know With backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry, Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of OutOfYourRut.com , a website about careers, business ideas, money and more. A committed Christian, he lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids.