One of most defining features of our time is the rise of the celebrity. Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are famous for being famous. Talent and substance are not required. The ability to draw a crowd or following on Facebook seems to be the only requirement to become a celebrity. But has this phenomenon flowed over into Christendom?
The words of John the Baptist stand in stark contrast to what we see in many personality-based ministries today. “He must increase and I must decrease” seems far from reality. Recently a gathering called The Elephant Room gained much attention because it brought together seven celebrity pastors to discuss a variety of issues. Without commenting on the content of this event, it seems to me that much of the attention this event garnered was due to the fact that each of the speakers have die-hard followings. Modern day Pauls and Apolloses appear to exist. I wonder if this event would have been an issue if it had it involved seven pastors of regular size churches?
To be fair, not all influential evangelists seek or magnify their celebrity. I really appreciate the ministry of John Stott, not only for his teaching, but for his example of not pursuing the mega church and upfront glory. Nevertheless, we flock to human leaders.
Why is this? Have we confused leadership with pastoring? Are we seeking to put tangible flesh on a Lord we cannot see? Are we creating idols out of Christian personalities?
Godly leadership is essential. But like John the Baptist, the best leaders know when to get out of the way so Jesus becomes pre-eminently known.