you know, i had a dream last night that really bothered me. some of it was funny, but more of it bothered me. i won't go into it-- you know how dreams are really most interesting to the people who actually had them, and our friends simply suffer through the re-telling b/c it's the polite thing to do? unless you're married and trying to explain why you kicked your long-suffering esposo in the shin in the middle of the night. anyway.
i'm thinking about that chrysler commercial that has generated a lot of conversation about making the CEO of the company the marketing face of an advertising campaign. it's so funny when a news agency really nails something interesting and relevant, and cheers to NPR who did it first, closely followed by the major networks. anyway, there has been confusion about the white haired guy with what really sounds like a fake german accent-- is he really the CEO of daimler-chrysler, or an actor? if he's an actor, or even if he's the real thing-- wuh? they have, apparently, yanked the commercials as of mid September, according to NPR. apparently that CEO is a really awesome guy-- has done great things for the company, is a really gregarious character, well loved and respected by his peers. but he wasn't doing anything for Mercedes numbers and was confusing the populace.
they cited only Wendys' "Dave" and Lee Iacoca's campaigns as successful, with Dave what's his name being in the lead for promoting a humble, hardworking American that most consumers would like to think they could relate to.
but hold on...what about the product?
now, i recognize that among my friends i have at LEAST five who are marketing/advertising people, and they will have a very, very unique insight into this. but here is where i shift into another thing i am thinking about: the body of Christ.
are we guilty of doing the same thing?
certainly, there is psychology out there which can explain why we almost always feel the need to create some sort of icon-- some would say that this is what we have done with all religions: man need god. man create god and insist on capitalizing name. now man have God.
we didn't do that-- He's real-- but we do it to people all the time.
NPR talked about the danger of making one person represent an entire company or product-- the company takes the risk of making their CEO seem silly, or while some connected with the product, the connection with the new spokesperson can dampen their affection for said product. they actually risk losing clients if the clients do not like the spokesperson. even if the product is as respected and symbolic of "the good life" as mercedes. studies showed that respect for the mercedes product took a spill as a direct result of the commercials.
in the church, we seem to be tempted to create idols of certain ones of us. a sharply charismatic writer/speaker/singer. a popular, outgoing youth minister. a head pastor with insight and wisdom and natural speaking abilities from the pulpit. a dynamic, gifted worship leader.
so, we're going to do this. people do it. it's human nature to make a find and camp out on it. but whose responsibility is it? i don't know the answer, honestly, but as a leader, i want to know. i know that there were some awesome high schoolers who, when don and i were dating, i was aware of every time i was tempted to break the standards i had been teaching them all those years. i knew they were counting on me to be true to my word. a close worship-leader friend of mine is aware of the fact that he might sometimes be seen as a rock star on stage, so for a long time, he kept in his guitar case a letter written to all the worship leaders in the vineyard church from a very well-known worship leader who had fallen, confessing his sin and crying out for forgiveness.
Jesus would not let the people crown Him king.
now I know that's a different story-- He WAS king but the timing was all off, and it was up to GOD to crown Him, but the thing i see in that is this: Jesus was ABLE to not allow them to crown Him king.
my prayer for us today, as followers of Jesus Christ who are all leaders in some capacity, is that we would be profoundly, closely invested in not allowing others to make rock stars out of us, and most specifically, those of us in worship and youth ministries. it is so important that we resist the temptation to be the most popular kid in the room.
"not to us, O Lord, not to us,/but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness" Psalm 115
when we allow glory to fall at our feet, when we allow ourselves to be "made much of", our usefulness as a stumbling block grows exponentially. and the consequences here are enough to sober our "we wish we were still the captain of the football team" tendencies when we see this: "Jesus said to his disciples, 'It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves" Luke 17: 2,3
Watch ourselves. Only Jesus is the proper representation of our community. Not Billy Graham, not Bishop Earl Paulk, not the Pope, not Beth Moore, not TD Jakes, not Pat Robertson. See how there are mixtures here? Because for some, Earl Paulk is the very mouthpiece of God, and he did little to keep his congregation from supporting that. In fact, he encouraged it. Hubris led to sexual sin that stuns the imagination and yet I sat under his teaching as a child and grew in the Lord. Billy Graham is a man of God, but was heard on tape in conversation with Richard Nixon making what appeared to be anti-Semitic statements. Beth Moore is one of the most gifted Bible teachers today, and yet many disagree with her end-times theology (to which I would ask, who the heck cares? apparently the Calvinists do). and who hasn't shrunk in horror at some of the most recent statements made by an aging Pat Robertson who must be getting some bad counsel somewhere? and who hasn't at least heard of a beloved pastor who seemed to have his poop in a scoop, and next thing you knew... kaboom. adultery, molestation, you name it. They aren't discovered as Satan worshippers, but rather, worshippers of self-gratification. The flesh.
so lets stop feeding it. The glory for our success in ministry? To Him. The glory for our beautiful voices and skills at songwriting? To Him. The glory for our natural abilities in storytelling and public speaking? To Him. But not simply in our heads or on our lips, but let us NOT ALLOW it.
i have no idea how that is done-- i think that if someone had figured it out by now, every one of us in some leadership capacity would have bought the book or be wearing the perfume or taking the pill. no, we must depend upon the wisdom of the Lord. but a marker? to me, i think that the minute we find ourselves so dependent upon the flow of admiration we are receiving (that is, when we feel that empty place because it hasn't been stoked in a couple of days), or when we resent another person receiving it, or when we are so in need of it that we are willing to cross boundaries that are unethical or at least questionable, or when we feel that inner creep of pride that barks at the door like a stray dog who smells supper on the table inside, we must run like mad to the One who deserves all glory, all praise, all honor. and we cannot, must not, shall not revel in our popularity. when we do, we are done.
surely there are about 75 greek tragedies which support this theme... weren't mortals making the gods angry with this sort of thing all the time?
"not to us, O Lord, not to us/ but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness" psalm 115