Another post about promotion, but a slightly different tack.
In the same ACW Facebook group I mentioned yesterday, I asked a question about public speaking, and this eventually led onto a discussion about preaching. I felt, as did others, that promoting your writing through your preaching was a big no-no – I wouldn’t do it, and would feel unhappy with others doing it. By all means talk about what fires and inspires you (which may well be the topic that you tend to write about), within the much more important inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit, but this is not a place to publicise your work. This is a place to share the whispers of God, to reflect on his word,to challenge one another, to build each other up. A preacher’s message should outshine the preacher, in my opinion. We should remember our cracked pot state – those clay jars which have treasure within – not a treasure that comes from ourselves.
These thoughts tripped another tangent in my mind.
I can recall occasions when preachers are introduced with great fanfare, effusive praise and impressive lists of credentials. I find this equally discomforting, and often I think the preacher/speaker does too – they often look down, wince, shuffle their feet and try and apologise for it when they begin to speak.
I appreciate that many times the person introducing is trying to be encouraging or simply nice. Or maybe they really have fallen for the cult of the celebrity. Whatever is behind it, I cringe in my seat, as they rave about this incredible person about to speak. I’m not denying that they may well be exceptionally gifted, wonderfully inspiring or stupendously qualified. But I’m uncomfortable with them being built up like this before they speak – speak of God, no less. Why pedestalise one another?
I do think it is important to encourage our teachers, leaders, preachers. They need our support, our prayers, our kindness. But those long winded introductions – I know I would hate it, if it were me. A simple expression of gratitute for being there and saying we’re looking forward to what s/he has to say – is that not enough? And then show our concern and appreciation in ways that really matter – in the way we treat each other, in the way we react to things we disagree with, in the way we encourage each other.
A celebrity culture is not an encouraging culture. It plants people too high and then strips them down. It gloats over their falls or dismisses everything they’ve done previously when something goes wrong. It leaves people high or low – and alone. Let’s stop celebrity-ising. Let’s start loving – carefully, wisely, gently.
And let’s not fall prey to hyperbole – it doesn’t build up the kingdom, it distracts from it.
Father, give us a right view of ourselves and of each other – showing gratitude to one another, but not reserving the top spot of the table for our own ‘celebrities’. Let us build each other up, not puff each other up. Let’s remember we are all clay jars, and we all have treasure within. Help us nurture an encouraging culture, not one that pedestalises or idolises but instead embraces each other, whatever our gifting. Help us recognise that those in leadership are often under fire and under strain. They need us to know they are human. They need us, full stop.