Kirk Cameron is a man on a mission, a guy filled with purpose. Interestingly, this go-getter actor is named after another high achiever; a television series character determined to lead -- Captain Kirk of Star Trek.
"That's the story I've been told," Kirk said as he joked about his TV namesake. "And as the family legend goes, my sister would have been named Spock if my father hadn't stepped in."
Little did his parents, who lived near Hollywood, realize when they linked their baby boy's name to the television screen, he would someday be appearing on it. Yet, within the decade, Kirk became a familiar face.
"I was about 10 years old when my mom banked on a suggestion from a friend who suggested she enlist help from a talent agency," Kirk said, recalling how he started interviewing for parts in TV shows and commercials. "I started out working that way, and within a few years I started working on the TV show 'Growing Pains'."
The sitcom about a New York family turned out to be a cultural icon of the '80s. Kirk played the role of Mike Seaver, who wore cool glasses, sported a mullet and was always armed with a wisecrack or two. The show ran for seven years, and that meant Kirk was on the "Growing Pains" production set a lot.
"It was very much a family atmosphere, so I probably spent more time with my TV family than with my real family," Kirk said, recalling the lifelong friends he made, one in particular. "I met my co-star (Chelsea Noble) and we got married in our last year of the show."
By then, Kirk was an adult with a deep faith, his mission to have his life reflect new values. This involved a few "growing pains" on the set when Kirk wanted to steer away from some of the scenes his character was being asked to depict.
"We locked horns a few times and there were ruffled feathers when we'd work through a script -- that's common with anyone," Kirk said, as he reflected on how usually actors are asking for more money and he was a "piece of cake" in comparison. "I simply wanted to have discussions about the best way to portray my character in light of the fact that I was a role model for teenagers."
A leading bright light back then, and a guy committed to a purposeful life straight ahead.
Since those early days on the "Growing Pains" sitcom, Kirk has intertwined his acting career with his ability to lead people forward on issues that matter. "Fireproof," "Monumental," "Unstoppable," and the "Revive Us" theater event have all addressed societal concerns and problems from the perspective of faith in God.
"I like that central driving force in my life -- my love for God and people -- that is my faith, to be the thing that pumps life into every category. To be alive, to be effective is to not divorce the most important part of you from any other area of your life," Kirk said. "I think a lot of people do that today. They sort of keep their faith in this little box that they pull out on Sunday and they keep it in the corner (the rest of the week), and it's disconnected from everything else so they don't offend people."
Kirk stands ready to put his faith front and center as he brings to light his concern that nearly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, a staggering statistic.
This husband of 26 years and father of six said he feels deeply about his own marriage and hopes to reverse the modern day norm of divorce and struggling marriages through "Love Worth Fighting For," a national marriage event tour.
"We want to give couples a new perspective on marriage -- put wind in their sails, and tools that will help them fight for the victories that are waiting on the other side of their battles," Kirk said. "Nobody wants to fail at family. We want people to leave here believing that love and marriage is worth fighting for."
Through comedic stories, life experiences, music and prayer, Kirk and singer-songwriter Warren Barfield are traversing the country to reach out to singles, couples contemplating marriage, newlyweds and couples who have been married for years.
"I know that family is the building block for the rest of civilization. So if I want a strong community, a strong country, we have to have strong families," Kirk said.
Spoken like a true leader.
This enterprising man of faith may not be a trailblazer on this topic -- "going where no man has gone before" -- but he is definitely on a mission to lead others to victory in their marriage.
(For more information about the Love Worth Fighting For tour, to order tickets, or for other locations, visit www.loveworthfightingfor.com.)
(Lucy Luginbill is a career television producer-host and the Spiritual Life editor for the Tri-City Herald. In her column, she reflects on the meaning of her name, "Light Bringer." If you have a story idea for Light Notes, contact her at email@example.com.)
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