What an incredibly strange year we have experienced with the US Presidential election! I’ve read about crazy elections in our past but the one we just experienced felt a bit like war. While the huge division and disfunction in our country was exposed, something even bigger revealed itself.
I talk a great deal about platforms and stages, with primary focus being on creatives. However, politicians are given some of the biggest platforms. As platforms for presidential candidates grew, the monster was feasting on ego and pride. A handful of candidates professed to be Christians, but as we watched the debates it was difficult to see Jesus as they ripped each other to shreds.
Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed similar behavior amongst Christian artists vying for the top of the charts. While smiles don their faces in public, conversations backstage, in green rooms and on tour buses are laced with jealousy, pride and ego. If we are all on a quest to make Jesus famous shouldn’t we lift one another up as brothers and sisters in Christ? Imagine the size of the platform if everyone joined together, shared success with all and offered a helping hand to the less successful?
There is only room for one at the top and his name is Jesus. Let’s join together and make him famous!
This week is Christian music accolade week or better known as the GMA Dove Awards. Last night, some artists took home a prestigious Dove Award while others went home empty handed and maybe feeling a bit rejected.
Let’s face it, most of us want to be recognized for our achievements and accomplishments? I know I do. The amazing thing is that God recognizes us regardless of whether we have trophies on our wall or not. When we are about his business of carrying out The Great Commission, we are heroes to him. Music is a powerful tool and the Holy Spirit often utilizes it to draw listeners to Jesus.
Today, lets celebrate both the winners & those who didn’t win at last night’s GMA Dove Awards show. When one person finds Jesus through hearing a Christian song, the entire Christian music industry should celebrate. The Christian music industry was originally designed for one common purpose of carrying out The Great Commission!
Please join me in praying specifically for two things this week.
1) For the GMA Dove Winners and that they would be humbled by the recognition, that God would prevent the monster from boosting their ego and that they would be even more energized to continue taking God’s message to the world!
2) For those who didn’t win an award and that God would prevent the monster from making them feel like a failure and fill their heart with jealousy. That God would remind them to recognize that anyone carrying out The Great Commission is a winner in his eyes.
Undoubtedly, we live in the new world order of social media. Most everything we do in life is centered around building kingdoms of Followers and Likes on social media. Even Bible Study groups use Facebook to stay in touch with one another and to quickly deliver messaging. Our daily lives have become so busy that we now depend on social media to keep us connected.
For those who work on a stage, connection is even more important. Music artists, speakers, authors and even pastors have been drawn into the emphasis and importance of one’s following. Record companies, book publishers, booking agents and event programmers demand big followings in order to do business with music artists, authors, speakers and pastors. That in turn can create an unhealthy emphasis on one’s number of followers.
I would encourage all of us to examine our focus. Are we more concerned about following Jesus than we are about building a following? Do we have faith that God will bring the audience he desires to hear the message we are proclaiming? Are we kingdom building or building kingdoms?
Last week I was out on a college tour with two of our artists. The tour is making stops at a number of Christian universities over the next couple of months. During the week I experienced two contrasting scenarios.
One of the universities has a very strict conservative policy about what they allow on stage for concerts during their convocation services. They require their students to dress up, cover any tattoos and remove all nose rings etc. In order to be consistent, they ask any musician entering their stage to do the same. The Dean of Students noticed one of our musicians had a tiny diamond stud nose ring and another was wearing an earring at the top of his ear lobe. The Dean asked me if I could have them removed before our band took the stage. A brief conversation with our artist resulted in instant compliance. I was so proud of our team for acting quickly to acquiesce to the Dean’s wishes without hesitation. I think the Monster (ego, pride) was successfully starved that evening.
At another university stop, we had asked for a local acoustic opener in order to create an opportunity for a student musician. We had limited inputs, limited soundcheck time and our desire was to create an experience that transitioned from acoustic to a fully plugged in band. Discovering they had picked a student band, I had a phone conversation with the leader of the band about the acoustic nature of performance we were looking for. The student didn’t like the acoustic nature as they normally play fully plugged in but he committed to figuring it out. Unfortunately, the student band showed up at soundcheck as a fully plugged in band. While the student was blatantly ignoring our wishes, we let it slide and didn’t address the situation. After sound check, the student approached me to ask if we were all good with his defiance. I explained why we had asked for acoustic and asked him why he didn’t comply. With no real answer, he then committed that they would stay within their 10 minute set time we had agreed on. His band then preceded to go 14 minutes instead of the 10 minutes he had just committed to. While it may seem trivial, this artist broke his commitment twice in an effort to grab what he thought was a better presentation and stage time for his band. After leaving the university, I emailed the student to share our disappointment in his broken commitment and to encourage him to re-think his actions with future music opportunities. The student apparently didn’t appreciate the encouragement and forwarded the email to some of the University staff. Instead of addressing the student’s integrity issue, the university staff, choosing to protect the student’s ego feeding behavior, was upset with me for sending the email. What an incredible teaching opportunity the University staff missed. The Monster (ego, pride, entitlement) was well fed at this university stop.
While it is impossible to get it perfect, our Christian universities certainly have major influence on the Monster that so badly wants to control the next generation of adults. Would you join me in praying for protection and wisdom over our Christian universities as they mold the next generation?
If you are like many Americans, you found yourself glued to your TV over the last couple weeks watching the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. While Americans picked up 121 medals, it was interesting to see winners from multiple countries giving glory to God. Olympic winners are given an incredible platform as every media outlet in the world wants to grab a interview with the winners. We have seen American gold medal gymnast, Gabby Douglas, speak about her faith in Jesus over the last four years and it was nice to see so many others join her in sharing their faith at this year’s Olympic games.
Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman swimmer to win gold – “All Glory to God. Isn’t he awesome!”
American gold medalist Maya Dirado – “I don’t think God really cares about my swimming much. I think God cares about my soul and whether I’m bringing his love and mercy into the world”
Ethiopian gold medalist Almaz Ayana – “I pray to the Lord. The Lord has given me everything. My doping is in Jesus”
American women’s triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgenson – “I really think you just have to keep God as your focal point and know that he is always number one. When you do that it will help you gain perspective on everything in life-not just endurance sports”
“We both know our identity is in Christ” – Mens diving silver medalist David Boudia says about he and fellow American diver Steele Johnson
How are you using your platform to make Jesus famous outside the church?