Moving Beyond the Personality Cult

Its so easy to do.

When you display a charismatic personality and a half decent communication gift you can ‘wow’ people, pull a crowd and before you know it have people ‘following you’ and cheering for you almost irrespective of who you are.

I was reminded of this over the last week as I spent some time with a survivor of my time in youth ministry at my old church. She was one from a non-Christian home, who came to Christ and is still going. She is rare. Most kids without Christian family give it away when the scene changes,the pastor moves on or they hit a hard patch. She hasn’t and has certainly earnt my respect on those grounds alone.

That youth ministry did rely too heavily on my own presence to give it energy. It was good while I had passion for the youth scene, but when my passion waned everything began to come unstuck. I couldn’t inspire people like I used to, because I didn’t have the same fire. And it was around here that I began to realise how much others depended on me to be the passionate one – the inspirer of others. The source…

I reckon its a danger for church planters also – to build a church focused on us download moulin rouge dvd download snow angels online living dying dvdrip – to be the centre of it all – the lynch pin – the ‘man’. Its a quick way to pull a crowd, which only tells you how dumb people are sometimes – how easily they are swayed by an up front presence – how much they long for someone (anyone?) to look like they are followable.

The challenge is not to dismiss the power of personality, but to use it with integrity – to lead people rather than drive them and love them rather than smile at them as you ‘work the room’ on a crowded Sunday.

I remember a retreat we had as an Upstream Team over 2 1/2 years ago. It will go down in history as a fairly unmemorable weekend. It wasn’t terrible – just kinda average – ho hum. I remember as it came to an end there was a distinct lack of passion in the room. I began to switch into ‘vision talk’ mode, but then just as quickly jumped back from there.

Its not that a vision is bad – or even that a ‘vision talk’ is bad in its place. But what I sensed then was a critical moment, when people could either look to me for energy and inspiration or could look to Jesus. Somehow I had the presence of mind not to wind up a ‘ra ra’ kind of talk, but I didn’t know why. It was only as I drove home that it dawned on me what I had (not) done. I won’t claim that I pointed people to Jesus. I didn’t. All I did was not point them to me.

Even so, we were able to reflect on this later, and it became a learning moment then, a realisation that we are not going to be a team dependent on Hamo for inspiration, but rather a bunch of people who try to look to Jesus for that.

Now that’s easier said than done, and I do believe that God does gift some of us as motivators and inspirers of others, but the huge challenge is to do that without then becoming ‘the centre’ in place of the one who really is and ought to be the centre.

Small challenge hey?!

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