The Problem with Pastors Seeking Celebrity

Zac HicksCulture, Personal Stories & Testimonies1 Comment

Ed Stetzer made some great observations on a guest post on  He talks about the “rock star pastor,” with “rock star” being used as a general term, perhaps synonymous with celebrity, not necessarily flashy, axe-wielding musician.  In sum (whole post here):

4 problems with the rock star pastor:
1. Personal Imbalance
2. Hindering Community
3. Approval Addiction
4. Selling Out the Church’s Future

4 ways to counteract the rock star pastor in us:
1. Focus on Equipping
2. Take a Sabbath
3. Adjust with the Economic Times
4. Preach the Glory of God

These are wise words.  I’ll be honest here, too, and perhaps I am representing the struggle that other folks like me have.  The reason I blog and the reason I write and promote my music is because I have a burden, particularly in the area of the church’s worship, to see reformation and renewal.  I want the camps of traditional worship and contemporary/modern worship to continue to grow in their ability to speak into one another.  I want to see more modern-worshiping churches embrace hymnody, historical-rootedness, theology, and biblical thoughtfulness in ways that hopefully don’t compromise what they prize about heir liturgy structure or stylistic expression.  Over a year ago, I realized that to accomplish this, I needed to jump on the scene and dive into the “market.”  If I desired to effectively communicate in this environment, I would need to do some “self-promotion,” so that others would read and think about what I had to say (or sing).

This is dangerous, because it feeds into Stetzer’s rock star pastor idea.  It is so hard to remain pure in motives, not letting self-glamorization, self-inflation, and entitlement creep in.  The environment just drags you there.  The strategies employed almost force you there.  

I wouldn’t say I’ve made peace with it.  Perhaps the better metaphor is truce.  In truce, you’re acknowledging that you are not so at odds that you must fight.  But, unlike peace, you are still unsettled about your enemy’s integrity…will he keep the truce?  I’ve determined for myself that I want to always feel this tension, because it will be a powerful way (amidst the self-aggrandizing vortex of the communicative medium) to keep my heart in check.  Unlike other cultural exegetes, I don’t believe the medium and methodology is totally bankrupt.  However, you can slide into letting it bankrupt you. 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”  (1 Peter 5:6)

One Comment on “The Problem with Pastors Seeking Celebrity”

  1. Zac,
    I appreciate your thoughts.
    I believe the key argument here is the pursuit of Christ’s sufficiency in our lives through disciplined time spent alone with the Lord and Scripture, humbling ourselves before God (as you say). It’s pretty hard to think more highly of yourself than you ought when you’re faced with the Almighty God and His glory. Narcissism is the loneliest and most empty way to walk through life.
    It’s so easy to fall into "rock-star" thinking in any walk of life, but certainly when that life is so often lived in the public eye or "on-stage". Personally, I fled the pursuit of the classical/opera singing world due to guilt and conviction over my uncontrolled and ugly pride and self-promotion, hoping that perhaps serving the Lord in ministry might be a better route. I’ve found that it doesn’t really matter my line of "work" but the condition of my heart and pursuit of His glory over my own. Hopefully, as pastors, we intentionally cultivate relationships with others who can hold us accountable in our spiritual disciplines which so often can fall by the wayside as we study the Word for and pray over our ministry responsibilities, and who can be used by the Holy Spirit to convict us of our pride and self-aggrandizement.
    Or, we can just listen to our wives. 🙂
    Blessings to you, brother.

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