What would you do if representatives and senators wanted to erect a statue of you on the grounds of your state capitol? Wealth, power, and celebrity often involve a test of character, and few people use them appropriately.
On Thursday, Country star Dolly Parton passed that test of character with flying colors. She showcased her humility and gave America another reason to love her.
Tennessee state legislators had filed a bill to erect a statue of Parton near the state capitol. The Country star politely declined.
“I want to thank the Tennessee legislature for their consideration of a bill to erect a statue of me on the Capitol grounds. I am honored and humbled by their intention but I have asked the leaders of the state legislature to remove the bill from any and all consideration,” Parton wrote in a statement on Thursday.
“Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time,” she argued. “I hope, though, that somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it, then I’m certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean.”
“In the meantime, I’ll continue to try to do good work to make this great state proud,” Parton concluded.
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) February 18, 2021
For a Christian, few virtues are as important as humility. Jesus Christ showed the ultimate example of humility, as the Apostle Paul recorded in his letter to the Phillippians.
Have this mind among you which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above all names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:5-11)
Parton’s refusal of a statue gives a small taste of Jesus’ ultimate humility, the humility that opened the way to salvation.
Yet her statement also acknowledged that Tennessee faces far larger problems than whether or not to give Dolly Parton a statue, and it suggested that honors like this should come after a person’s death. There is a great deal of wisdom in that suggestion, especially after the sexual assault and even rape claims that have tarnished the reputation of the late evangelical apologist Ravi Zacharias.
It is extremely rare for a person to voluntarily refuse a high honor for noble reasons. In doing so, Dolly Parton demonstrated her true character and set an important example for all of us.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.