Do you want to be famous? Do you have a secret desire for everyone to know your name or for people to admire you? It seems we have a cultural obsession with notoriety and attention. Right now in Colorado, a family is being accused of staging an elaborate hoax involving a homemade balloon and their young son for the sole purpose of attracting media attention. I am not the judge of this family’s motives. I will leave that to God, law enforcement officials and trained therapists. However, it has caused me to think about our need for attention.
I have had national media attention on several occasions in the past two years. I have appeared live on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and I have been quoted by almost every major newspaper in the country, including the New York Times, the LA Times, and the Dallas Morning News. Believe me, notoriety is overrated. It does nothing to feed your soul and does everything to feed your flesh.
Three years ago, before I became Senior Pastor of New Life Church, I told friends that my goal in life was to make Jesus famous and not myself. Of course, at that time, no one in the media knew my name and certainly no one cared about my opinion. It was easy to promise God that I would remain anonymous when anonymity was almost guaranteed.
The exposure to media attention has been both bothersome and flattering. Most of the interviews from media have been about topics that are sad or dark. But, make no mistake, any attention can be a slippery slope and better people than I have surrendered to the carnal desire to be noticed, even if the attention is negative. Thankfully, I have a wife and a close cadre of friends who hold me accountable and all of them have promised to break my kneecaps if I become too infatuated with myself.
The root causes of this need for attention are narcissism and egotism. Narcissism is the erotic gratification derived from the admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, while egotism is an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Either way, both egotism and narcissism are fueled by the attention of others and only humility and repentance can set us free from their grips.
Certainly, some of us will be known more than others. We cannot always avoid the spotlight or the recognition that comes from leading something that is successful. But there is a difference between the spotlights finding us than us seeking the spotlight. Our motives are the real issue.
What would happen if every local church and its leaders were committed to making Jesus famous and not themselves? Could it be that Jesus is longing for a group of people who are committed to real humility, anonymity and servant hood? How cool would it be if we were really successful doing things for God and no one noticed?