Who will succeed Alex Trebek as the host of Jeopardy!, one of the longest-running shows on television?
Trebek filmed enough episodes to go through Christmas, but the producers will have a decision to make in 2021. Former champion Ken Jennings, who begins filming future shows today as the interim host, may be the front-runner. Journalists Anderson Cooper and George Stephanopoulos may be on the shortlist. Trebek himself nominated Betty White in a 2018 interview, but the ninety-eight-year-old actress might be a bit of a stretch.
Here’s what the host, whoever he or she may be, will need to do to succeed like Alex Trebek: imitate his humility.
Trebek once told an interviewer, “You have to set your ego aside. The stars of the show are the contestants and the game itself. That’s why I’ve always insisted that I be introduced as the host and not the star. And if you want to be a good host, you have to figure out a way to get the contestants to—as in the old television commercial about the military—’be all you can be.’”
THE HOST AND NOT THE STAR
This is a Christmas season like no other in living memory. Time reports that “the US COVID-19 outbreak is worse than it’s ever been.” Dr. Anthony Fauci warned in an interview yesterday that, following Thanksgiving travel, the US could see “a surge upon a surge.”
But even amidst the pain and tragedies of the pandemic and the uncertainties of our political future, the essential truth of Christmas remains unchanged. Jesus is still Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). It is still true that he was born that we might be born again (John 3:7). He came to die so that, as he promised, “everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26).
Christmas is about Christ. And Christ does not change: he is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He was the same during the Civil War, the 1918 pandemic, World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. He was the same on September 10, 2001 that he was on September 12, 2001.
If we would experience the abundant life that Christ came at Christmas to provide (John 10:10), the key is to be the host of this season and not its star.
“WITH JOY YOU WILL DRAW WATER”
Alex Trebek knew that the success of Jeopardy! depended not on him but on the contestants. Paradoxically, the show’s success resulting from his humility made him one of television’s greatest success stories.
If you want to experience the hope, peace, and joy of Christmas, make this season about Christ. Isaiah invited us to declare: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).
If Christ is your Christmas “song,” this will be the result: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (v. 3). And you will “host” the Christmas season by helping others share the joy you have experienced: “You will say in that day, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth’” (vv. 4–5).
Our problem is that our culture makes the birthday of Jesus about anything but Jesus. Imagine attending a birthday party at which the guests gave presents to each other, but no one acknowledged the one whose birth made the party possible. Or celebrating the gifts Jesus came to give rather than the One who gives them.
In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis described the fall of the first humans and the self-idolatry to which we are tempted as a result: “They desired to be on their own, to take care for their own future, to plan for pleasure and for security, to have a meum from which, no doubt, they would pay some reasonable tribute to God in the way of time, attention, and love, but which, nevertheless, was theirs not his. They wanted, as we say, to ‘call their souls their own.’
“But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, ‘This is our business, not yours.’ But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives.”
“THERE IS ONLY ONE RELATIONSHIP THAT MATTERS”
How can we make this Christmas season about Christ?
We will focus this week on practical ways to experience the power and joy of Jesus as we celebrate his birth. For today, let’s decide that we want to know Christ more intimately than ever before, that we want to experience his transcendent and transforming presence in ways we never have. Let’s reject the temptation to “call our souls our own” and refuse to make Christmas about us rather than about our Lord.
In other words, let’s make Jesus the star of the season.
In today’s My Utmost for His Highest, we find my favorite paragraph in all of Oswald Chambers’ writings: “There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfill his purpose through your life.”
Will God “fulfill his purpose through your life” today?