I ran across an article today which was actually from March 15th that caught my attention. The article itself is about the Contemporary Christian musician, Steven Curtis Chapman, and an upcoming performance he will be holding at Crossroads Church. In that article, I noticed the following self-aggrandizing list of accomplishments and wanted to offer some thoughts on this:
His resume is more than impressive. In a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Chapman has earned 59 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, five GRAMMY Awards, an American Music Award and 49 No. 1 singles.
Chapman also has sold more than 11 million albums, with 10 RIAA-Certified Gold or Platinum albums to his credit.
“God has really given me great favor,” Chapman said in a phone interview. “There are many people who are much more talented than me in my estimation, but they might not have the album sales and the No. 1 songs that I have.”
Chapman toured in the fall and has extended this leg until April 10.
“I have so many songs, so many albums,” he said. “I want to play them, and people thankfully still want to hear them.”
Here are my thoughts on that:
First off, it is true that Chapman here attributes his accomplishments to God, but that isn’t the point. The point is that what he does, to begin with, naturally draws the attention of men to his own accomplishments rather than God. Why do Christian musicians need awards? Why do we need to mimic the world? Why do we need to be recognized for our own works? The entire culture built around the celebrity Christian music industry is carnal and ungodly—I’ve written about this before, it takes the glory away from God.
It is natural for man to seek his own glory and the glory of other men. The natural man that Paul says cannot comprehend the things of God in 1 Corinthians 2, that’s what he means. The natural man, in that context, is the man who walks according to human nature in Adams’s fallen world.
The names escape me at the moment, but there was an interview done at the end of the 19th century where somebody was asked who the greatest preacher in America was in that day. The person answered, whoever he is you’ve never heard of him.
The man who faithfully shepherds a flock of 50 in Marble Falls, Texas, and who gains no more fame or recognition than that, will stand far more rewarded in the judgment than some celebrity who sold a million records.
Obedience is its own reward. The smile of the Lord comes with doing what he has assigned you to do. If that means cleaning the bathrooms at your church, then if you do that faithfully you will meet Him with His hand out and that Royal smile on his face saying “well done my good and faithful servant, enter into my rest.”
That is the diametric antithesis of all this American celebrity worship that has pickled Christendom in this country, as we talked about in our podcast last night.
The faithful pastor of a small congregation who labors over the word and is involved in his people’s lives and shepherds them in the purity and power of the word is shrugged off as a failure with small numbers while some celebrity with a gift for public speaking and a skilled marketing team is hailed as a mover and a Shaker for Jesus.
Results-based ministry is born in the American Business boardroom, not the kingdom of God. Success in ministry is measured in obedience; the results are up to the Holy Spirit. As soon as we make ourselves responsible for getting the results, we have fallen into carnality.
Jeremiah is always my prime example. 40 years, four decades he spent faithfully preaching to a whoring Israel and nobody listened. His ministry was a success because he did what he was told.