Archive for the ‘humility’ Category

In an article entitled, “The Problem with Pastors as Rock Stars,” Ed Stetzer offers some wise thoughts on the “celebrity culture” plaguing modern Evangelicalism:

If the church life revolves around one person’s speaking gift, it is incredibly difficult to move to community. A community “won” to a single voice is not won to community but to spectatorship. Thus, when pastors say, “It’s all about the weekend,” they tend to create an audience rather than a biblically functioning church community. This is still true if your church is an oft-criticized seeker megachurch or your verse-by-verse preaching point. Either way, if you get thousands sitting in rows but can’t move them to sitting in circles, true community is hard to find.

As a guy who travels around speaking, I understand how quickly it can happen. For the last few weeks, I’ve spoken at a church close to my own house while the pastor is on a short sabbatical. But even in delivering biblical messages, I’m not engaging in biblical community with those people. It takes more than a stage to create a community. The temptation must be fought that a mass of people gathered to hear one person speak is equal to biblical community.

Commenting about the growing prevalence of multi-site churches, Stetzer writes:

Some have pointed to the multi-site movement as an illustration of how the church has sold out to make rock star pastors famous. Personally, I am not anti-multi-site. When partnered with church planting, it has great potential. Nevertheless, while I’m not “anti,” I do urge caution. At times, I’ve joked about “rock star celebrity pastors beaming their graven image all over the country.” If you are a rock star pastor, perhaps you believe the church simply cannot go on without you. You would be wrong.

Pride was inherent in the fall of Adam, and it rears its head whenever one person deems the church’s future to ride on their shoulders or voice. Multi-site, or any program, as a necessity derived from the attention needed by a rock star pastor is idolatry.

Stetzer goes on to list four practical things pastors can do to fight against a “rock star” image.  The entire article is well-worth the read.

Eat Like A Christian!

Posted: March 31, 2012 in evangelism, gospel, humility, Jesus, love

From To Jerusalem:

Truly, my experience serving food has uncovered a side of Christianity that is appalling and disheartening. Nowhere have I seen Christians be more un-Christian than when sitting down to eat. In their attitudes and actions I have seen many, many Christians completely ruin their witness toward servers, waiters, and cooks. And I have stories; my word do I have stories.

When I worked catering in college I served the faculty, staff, and students. This was a Christian college—it taught and preached and lived the Bible. Except when it came to food.

When we set up breakfasts for meetings, we would often catch secretaries in the act of dumping whole basketfuls of coffee supplies into their purses, who would then hastily explain their actions by saying they didn’t know the supplies weren’t free for the taking.

I’ve seen professors (on more than one occasion) steal trays of donuts, danishes, and muffins out of meeting rooms for use in their own classes—always with the excuse that the food “wasn’t labeled” and was thus up for grabs.

I have been verbally criticized and belittled by pastors, professors, and Christian leaders for late food, early food, cold food, warm food, too little food, too much food, or food they simply don’t like.

And worst of them all? Christian women’s conferences. In those, if food and drink is not available at all times, in all forms, and modifiable for every preference, we servers became villains. I have seen more hate, anger, selfishness, greed, and jealousy at Christian women’s conferences than all other food service events combined. …

What’s my point, you may be asking?

Simply this: How you behave when you eat in public can be one of the most powerful witnesses you have for your King Jesus. Believe me when I say, you will be a witness. Whether you are a good witness is up to you.

So when you walk into a restaurant after church dressed in your Sunday best, please be polite and smile. Please be gracious and forgiving, and never ask to see the manager with a complaint. When it comes time to pay, always be generous—because a server’s estimation of your character will be based entirely on the tip you leave. The biggest impact you can make for Jesus is simply tipping well.

Chuck Colson, writing for The Christian Post:

People used to be celebrated in our culture for accomplishing something special. George Washington won the Revolution; Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic; Wilma Rudolph set a world record in the 100-meter dash. Now, people are famous for, well, being famous.

That’s how people like the Kardashians and Paris Hilton become celebrities. Or take the pop singer Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, otherwise known as Lady Gaga. To gather all the notoriety and money she can, the moderately talented Lady Gaga will say, sing, or do almost anything, from simulating sex in videos to blaspheming God in her songs. She was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine. Please! …

Even worse, the cult of celebrity has seeped into our sanctuaries. Like the culture around us, churches too often reward the sizzle and not the steak. Too many people in the pews would rather have a celebrity in the pulpit instead of a good shepherd of souls, a good servant leader. …

According to theologian Os Guiness, we expect the pastor to be a shrink in the pulpit, a CEO in the office, and flawless in his family life. Heap on top of all that our desire that the pastor be a spiritual rock star, and these expectations can lead to pastoral frustration, burnout, and even financial and sexual immorality.

Is it any surprise, then, that the Church has been rocked over the last few decades by clerical scandals?

Friends, celebrity worship – in my book Being the Body I call it the Pedestal Complex – has no place in the Church. Let’s honor and care for our spiritual leaders, of course. But let’s be sure to keep them off our pedestals – for their sake and for ours.

Check out some of my own musings on this topic:

Celebrity Pastors?

Posted: December 1, 2011 in humility

Mike Cosper (writing at the Gospel Coalition):

Many artists work hard at their craft because they love it. The same can be said for pastors who pour countless hours into developing their preaching and communication skills, who study the scriptures and people around them intensely, seeking to make a connection between the gospel and the world we inhabit. Their goal is to be good shepherds, to pastor and lead well, to see the mission of God move forward. Some of these pastors will gather crowds. They become celebrities. In these cases, celebrity status is a byproduct of other, more important goals.

Let’s assume this is true of the majority of “celebrity pastors” filling the (internet) airwaves today.

Now my question becomes, “What responsibility do these famous-for-all-the-right-reasons pastors have in discouraging unhealthy idolatry and/or slavish adherence to everything they say?” Obviously, they are not totally responsible for everyone else’s responses to them. However, what role should they play in regulating their “celebrity status” (either by refraining from doing certain things, or through direct teaching on the topic), for the sake of their own souls and the souls of those who listen to them? For example, consider the practice of book signing – does that truly build up the church or merely feed/encourage an ungodly fascination with finite men?

Just my questions…

See my previous post on this issue.

From John Stott’s American memorial service in Wheaton, IL:

He is the author of over 50 books translated into 65 languages, and was named by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the “100 most influential people” in the world.

But despite the influence and recognition he received during his life, Stott is remembered for his humbleness and dedication in serving the Lord…

“Everything I have read, known, and by all accounts, John Stott’s motives were about as pure as a human being’s motives can be,” asserted [Tim] Keller. “He was not an ambitious man for his own glory. He did not want power. It was obvious he did not want status. He did not want wealth, he gave it away.”

“But there was something driving him,” said the influential American preacher.

Although Stott was considered the greatest student evangelist of his generation and foresaw the rise of Christianity in the global South before most anyone else, he was not satisfied with his accomplishments.

Here is my point. Most of the rest of us would be very happy being told you are the best. You are the best preacher, you’re the best of this or that. But he didn’t care about that. He wanted to change the world for Christ,” Keller explained. “I looked at his motives, I looked at his labors, how he spent himself, and how he gave himself. Why wasn’t he ever satisfied? It really was not worldly ambition. He really wanted to really change the world for Christ. We should be convicted by that.

Praise God for the incredible grace evident in this man’s life, that he saw fit to make him such a great example and encouragement for those who share his faith and long for Christ’s appearing!  May we heed the words of Hebrews 13:7:

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

HT: The Christian Post

According to the world:

A couple months ago, we wrote about a study by researchers from Notre Dame and Cornell that showed how “agreeableness” negatively affects monetary earnings, particularly for men. Translation: it pays to be a jerk. Well, not exactly, but it apparently doesn’t pay to be overly nice.

Now, a recent paper from a host of researchers (from Stanford, Northwestern and Carnegie Mellon) fleshes out this notion by showing why nice guys who watch out for others generally fail to become leaders. The study looks at how contributing to the public good (i.e. taking care of outsiders, and even others in your own group) influences a person’s status on two critical dimensions of leadership: prestige and dominance. People who shared resources with their group were seen as prestigious, while those who protected their resources and even sought to deprive members of another group were seen as dominant…

The results of several group experiments showed that dominant individuals were more likely than prestigious ones to be elected leader of a group in competition with another group. Individuals with high prestige were seen as submissive compared to those striving to maximize personal gains. So in times of competition, we devalue altruism in our leaders.

– Freakonomics

According to Jesus:

One of the most astonishing things about Jesus is that whereas his contemporaries looked for a Messiah who would come in triumphant power, he came in humility and initial obscurity, and devoted his life to compassionate service to those whom society scorned, oppressed, excluded or overlooked.  And having made the point that he himself had not come to be served but to serve, he modelled it unforgettably in washing the disciples’ feet and then explicitly setting that as the example of how we should act.

– Christopher Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove: IVP, 1992) 177-178.