Last week, I read Rachel Held Evans’ post entitled “Scattered Thoughts on my life in the Christian Industry.” She said a great many things, but this resonated with me the most:
I sit in the green room, fidgeting with my water bottle and trying not to make eye contact with the famous preacher whose pictures line the walls. I wonder if they’re expecting someone like him today, and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to speak in front of a room full of people without getting pee-in-my-pants nervous about it, without feeling out-of-place.
We do live in an era of Christian celebrity, don’t we? Used to be we’d personally think our own pastor was a star just because he visited us in the hospital, or his sermon blessed us that week. But with the onset of megapastors and megaministries, sometimes the simplicity of the gospel gets drowned out.
And here I sit teetering in the midst of it all. As one who writes books.
I remember teaching on the spiritual life of the writer for Mount Hermon and ACFW. In it, I shared this important quote from Michael Card’s book, Scribbling in the Sand: “Never cease praying that you will not become a star or celebrity. Donald Davidson has said, ‘Our culture places an absolute premium on various kinds of stardom. This degrades and impoverishes ordinary life, ordinary work, ordinary experience.’”
So I choose to remember again that the last will be first and the first, last. I choose to remember that we see Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor, not in the celebrity handshake of the star. Why is it that I’m more excited when I meet a Christian celebrity than I am interacting with ordinary folks? It’s sad to me that my heart bends this way.
My comment to Rachel in her post was as follows:
I understand. And I remember way back when, back in the day when I was bright eyed and hopeful that a publisher would notice my words and take a chance. During that time, God clearly said to me, “Mary, you have survived many trials. But will you withstand the trial of notoriety?” That question keeps me humble today. But I see the danger lurking, and I ask my prayer team to please, please, please tell me if I ever think I’m “all that.”
Keep near to the least of these and the still small voice, and all will be well.
I’m praying about releasing those talks on the spiritual life of the writer in the future. Perhaps it might interest you. Or not. But my passion for this topic isn’t going away any time soon.
What about you? What’s the problem with Christian celebrity? Why do we gravitate toward the spectacular? What advice would you give me to not succumb to fame’s lure?