Denzel Washington is one of the greatest actors of our time, and yet for all the success and acclaim he’s received in his life, he still comes across as down-to-earth, focused on his family and his faith more than fame.
Washington was born to a pastor and a gospel singer, and God has been a big part of his life from day one. When he was a young man and before he got into acting, he had an encounter with a woman at his mother’s beauty parlor that has set the tone for his life ever since.
The woman, known as a prophetess in their church, saw him and asked for a piece of paper, according to IMDB. She wrote “prophecy” at the top and then wrote out what she saw for him. He’s kept that piece of paper as a reminder.
“Boy, you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people,” Washington recalled being told on March 27, 1975, during his commencement speech to the 2015 class at Dillard University.
“Put God first,” he urged the newly minted graduates. “Everything that I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It’s a gift … I didn’t always stick with Him, but He always stuck with me.”
Since that fateful day, Washington has lived out that prophecy, and he continues to highlight the importance of keeping God central in your life and adopting an attitude of willingness to help others.
At a recent men’s conference at First Baptist Orlando in Florida, the actor shared what God has been telling him during this stage of life.
“At 66, getting ready to be 67, having just buried my mother, I made a promise to her and to God, not just to do good the right way, but to honor my mother and my father by the way I live my life, the rest of my days on this Earth,” he explained while talking to Pastor A.R. Bernard on Saturday, according to The Christian Post. “I’m here to serve, to help, to provide.”
“In every prayer, all I hear is: ‘Feed my sheep,’” he continued. “That’s what God wants me to do.”
“What’s that mean? … What I found out in the last couple of years is there are all kinds of sheep. So that’s why I talk to experienced shepherds to help guide me.”
“Stay on your knees,” he said. “Watch me, but listen to God. I hope that the words in my mouth and the meditation of my heart are pleasing in God’s sight, but I’m human. I’m just like you. What I have will not keep me on this Earth for one more day.
“Share what you know, inspire who you can, seek advice. If you want to talk to one someone, talk to the one that can do something about it. Constantly develop those habits.”
He also warned against the ugliness that fame brings in its wake and the love of self that often fuels that desire.
“[The Bible] says in the last days we’ll become lovers of ourselves,” he continued. “The number one photograph now is a selfie. So we all want to lead. We’re willing to do anything — ladies and young men — to be influential.
“Fame is a monster and we all have these ladders and battles, roads we have to walk in our given lives. Be you famous or whoever’s out there listening, we all have our individual challenges,” Washington said.
“It’s cliché [but] money, don’t make it better. It doesn’t. Fame just magnifies the problems and the opportunities.”
The man certainly has been given a gift, as well as a platform to encourage and exhort others. It’s refreshing to hear from a star who gives credit where credit is due and is eager to point people back to God.