That will be the theme of this post. Many will be referred to, none by name.
I need to be a RockStar!
Not in the traditional sense mind you, but in the desperate to be recognised for what I am sense.
Now the kicker, I can not stand “Christian RockStars“. They drive me nuts. Yet, my struggle is that I think deep down, most people in some type of Christian Leadership have this innate desire to be recognized. And for those who don’t, there is usually a faction of those whom they serve, that wants them to be seen as a RockStar!
In my brief experience (only about 5 years) in Christian Leadership, I have come to see that this type of thinking is THE DEVIL!! (think church lady from SNL).
I noticed this phenomenon a few years back, when “Portly Homely American Pastor” wrote a book that took the world by storm… I had seen him at conferences before the explosion, and he looked… well he looked like a “Portly Homely American Pastor”. After the explosion, he had spikey hair, goatee and a nice suit, and looked like “Portly Homely Stylized American Pastor”. He looked so uncomfortable, but then he became the face of the American Church and his transformation seemed to make that possible.
Then there is “Portly Homely Long Haired Canadian Pastor”. I first heard of him when I was a teen. He was this long haired guy who challenged people to think differently. I heard he went through some tough times, but then a few years ago he popped up on my radar. He spoke where I used to work, and I began to track with his teaching a bit. Then BOOM he was everywhere. People I know wanted to scrap everything and become a branch of “his” ministry. With this happening a few years after “Portly Homely American” pastors explosion, and with my previous connection (we had met a bunch of times) I felt I could ask him how he felt about the “RockStarization” of himself! below is my email (Green), and his response response (red) which came about 3 hours after mine was sent!!
I have been tracking with your teaching for a while (i saw you at church
at the john at mac in the mid 90’s and again at ###### a few summers
ago) I really enjoy it, and have been able to expose others to a new
perspective in their walk. (lame suck up intro, i know)
here is my query, how have you been able to deal with the
RockStarization of you in the pseudo “emerging/progressive
evangelical” movement. I ask this cause you seem like the kind of Guy
who would be really uncomfortable with that. And I have seen you
elevated to somewhere between Jesus and Paul, and again it seems like
this type of behavior would cause you to bang your head against a wall.
How have you been able to carry on with your mission, without letting
the machine become the message? (which I see is your heart) especially
when people seem bent on making you the message!
thanks for reading this… and don’t let the bastards get you down!
Thanks for writing. It’s great to hear from someone who has been
tracking with our teaching for so long!
I don’t think I’m aware of any “rosckstarization” going on. (Great word
by the way!) I’m just involved in our church doing what I do – teaching
about Jesus – like I’ve always done. I do get asked to speak different
places, and that is rewarding as well, but that has always been the
case. If I’ve achieved the pastoral equivalent of rock star status then
I’m not aware of it and, besides, isn’t being “super pastor” just mean
you’re a super nerd in our culture? Maybe that’s the secret for any
pastor – staying in touch with how our culture views pastors – as nerds.
I have a non-Christian friend who says, “Being a famous pastor is like
getting the award for the biggest penis in the small penis club.” He
has a point.
As far as people making me the message, again I’m not sure if I’m aware
of that going on. I just keep preaching Jesus.
Thanks again for writing James.
Here is what I learned from his response. Either he is full of crap, or he has insulated himself from what his position means. He has chosen to see himself not through the eyes of his adoring throng or critics, but through the eyes of the dispassionate uninvolved masses. He is a guy who does a thing, and who cares!
The final example comes from a good friend. He has been actively allowing God to shape his ministry for as long as we have been friends. His ability to connect with the people he serves takes on an interesting twist, because he is cripplingly shy. If he could have taught, and then run and hid from the masses until it was time to teach again. He would be happy. His ministry is not what pays the bills. His ministry is his passion. Yet over the last year I have seen a change. A transition from wanting to lead the church into “stardom”, to impacting people in his “other” job, and letting his gifts grow and develop in a more holistic way. His teaching remains informative, grounded and insightful yet he has found a way to remove “himself” from it. I feel like his goals have changed, he no longer wants to be the RockStar (or the church to be), he wants people to engage in their faith and have it grow and develop personally. From that the “Church” will be transformed.
You see the desire to be a RockStar can come honestly. As God blesses what we are involved in, there will be recognition. It is up to us, to deflect that recognition, or become wrapped up in it.
Last night as I was thinking out the last of this post, I read this tweet from Jared Wilson “@jaredcwilson: Some of the “manliest” pastors are a bunch of Tinkerbells, thinking they’ll die if they don’t hear applause” and it hit me. Here is a published author, blogger, conference speaker and pastor who sees in his own circle of pastors this innate desire to be responded to.
That desire breaks down to one small problem, when that becomes our desire (or the desire of those who support and surround us) we then become the object of worship. In essence we become a big fat golden calf.