Captain Sir Tom Moore was a British army officer during the second world war serving in India and Burma. After the war, Sir Tom ran a concreting company, enjoyed motorbiking, and otherwise lived a life of obscurity.
That all changed at the age of 99 when Tom decided to have a fundraiser for the National Health Service for his 100th birthday. On April 6th Tom decided he would walk one hundred lengths of his garden aided by his walking frame. He hoped his online fundraiser might reach £1000.
Within four days ‘Tom’s 100th birthday walk for the NHS’ had surpassed the £1000 target, it was lifted to £5000. Tom’s fundraiser caught the interest of the British media and Tom was invited to give media interviews. Sir Tom’s 100th birthday was on April 30th by which time he had raised over 30 million pounds for the National Health Service.
A one-hit wonder
Tom’s heroics caught the attention of the British public. Tom received two honorary doctorates from British universities and was invited to Windsor Castle to be knighted by the Queen. To celebrate Tom’s 100th birthday singer Michael Ball sang ‘You’ll never walk alone.’
Within hours it was turned into a digital single featuring Tom’s words and a choir of NHS workers. It went to the top of the UK singles chart making him the oldest person to achieve a UK number one hit.
A national hero
On his 100th birthday, Sir Tom received birthday greetings from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles as well as 150,000 cards in the mail. Sadly, Sir Tom passed away in February having contracted COVID-19. Flags were flown at half-mast at Number 10 Downing Street and both houses of parliament observed a minute’s silence.
After living 99 years in relative obscurity Sir Tom Moore became extremely famous in the last 10 months of his life. Tom’s spirit to do what he could to help others inspired a nation battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
15 minutes of fame
In 2010 Barna research surveyed 600 teenagers about their expectations of the future. Most teens had a rose-coloured view of the future with 81 per cent of teenagers expecting to have a high-paying job and 71 per cent expecting to travel around the world.
When it came to the question of fame 26 per cent of teenagers expected to be famous or well known by the age of 25. A quarter of teenagers thought they would be famous. Such a figure would equate to a high school of 400 students having 100 students expecting to have their name up in the lights. It’s nonsensical.
Ten years have passed since the survey and some of those teenagers are not nearly as famous as they hoped to be. The unrealistic dream of fame was fed to teenagers on a diet of reality TV shows promising to make an ordinary person the next big thing.
How should teens respond when the bubble bursts and it turns out they can’t be famous after all?
Be like Tom
Sir Tom Moore didn’t become famous through seeking the limelight, he was simply going about his life looking to make a contribution to the world. He wasn’t trying to make a name for himself, he wanted to raise £1000 to help others. He was looking to serve his community by doing what he could. Moore was motivated by service, not stardom.
Looking for the limelight
On one occasion two of Jesus’s disciples, James and John, asked Jesus if they could sit in the places of honour in his kingdom. James and John thought that following Jesus would lead to fame and acclaim, they wanted the book deals, the TikTok followers, they want a piece of the limelight.
Jesus sets them straight by telling them that truly great leaders are servants, not superstars. Jesus is the King of Kings but he came to us as the servant of all.
Let’s not get caught up chasing after the empty promise of viral fame. Let’s focus on serving God’s kingdom wherever we are. Aim to be faithful, let God be famous.
Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is a contributor for Christian Today and a sportswriter.