Over the weekend I found myself searching the web to see who performs the voice for the popular Sesame Street puppet Elmo. My daughter has taken a real liking to Elmo — requesting to hear songs and view videos featuring this endearing puppet monster. In fact, I imagine that a song featuring Elmo probably tops the list of most played songs on our Alexa device at home. So I was curious as to who was supplying the voice.
After doing a quick search on YouTube, here’s what I discovered:
I know it shouldn’t surprise me to see a grown man doing the voice of Elmo (after all, I have a brother who is good at doing all kinds of funny voices and impressions), but I was surprised. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. At one point in the interview, Kevin Clash (Elmo) explains that after demonstrating Elmo’s voice to one such skeptic, the hearer responded, “Okay, but I can do it better.” We don’t always get the recognition we deserve.
But recognition is not the same as motivation. Sure, our motivation to do something, or even to be a certain way can certainly be influenced by a perceived lack of recognition — recognition alone should not stand as our key motivation for taking action. Instead, motivation is to be found internally, or as is often the case, found outside ourselves — whether that be in the form of a particular goal, person, cause, ideal, etc. (becoming internal when we adopt it as our own).
An early Christian writer talks about external motivation when he writes:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24, NIV).
The writer’s original audience were enslaved people living in Roman occupied areas during the first century AD/CE. Being enslaved suggests to me a life that lacks recognition — robbing the enslaved of basic human dignity. And so I can say unequivocally, slavery is evil and appalling. But to be one whose worth and work are measured by their Creator (to people in all places and at all times) — and that this comes with an inheritance — that indeed is recognition.