Given the events of recent days, the firing of a prominent mega-church pastor who also served as a team chaplain to a professional sports team, I would like to reprise an article I first submitted to you on November 30, 2012. I believe this week’s grievous news makes this most poignant.
Behind the Scenes vs. High Profile
Many of our colleagues serve in rather obscure settings, with almost invisible teams or clubs and with coaches and competitors who are much less than household names. Others of us serve with clubs which are on television every day, with high profile people who are seen daily in advertising of all sorts and whose sporting gear is worn by fans of all ages. Many of us are somewhere in the middle with our service being among “local celebrities,” sporting people who have some profile in their communities, but not so much celebrity across the nation or the globe. While serving in any of these stations, it is wise for us to consider how to manage our own approach to obscurity vs. celebrity.
Some of our colleagues trade on their position and use their favor with the club as a central part of their fund-raising, to obtain outside speaking engagements and occasionally to prop up their own sense of celebrity.
Some of our colleagues serve faithfully in more remote situations where the spotlights and television cameras never even appear. They’re not tempted by the allure of celebrity or reflected glory of fame, simply because they never even encounter it.
I’d like to have us consider the tension between serving entirely “behind the scenes” and holding a “higher profile” position as a sport chaplain, a character coach or a sport mentor. These are in no particular order, but I do hope they’re each insightful and spur you to contemplation and wise decision making.
• A higher profile in a community makes it somewhat easier to do fund-raising because people will associate you with their favorite team, institution, community, etc…
• A higher profile can help one build a platform for ministry in a community from which one can gather volunteers and other ministry partners to further your ministry goals.
• A higher profile in a state school (USA) can raise scrutiny from prying media members seeking a controversial story, university officials with conflicting agendas, lawyers with an axe to grind, and others who could jeopardize one’s freedom of service.
• A higher profile can cause those one is serving, the coaches and competitors in the club or team, to question his or her motives. “Is he here to serve us or to build his “brand?”
• A higher profile is perceived by some as indicative of self-promotion, betraying a self-centered attitude.
• A couple of simple scriptures which can help us check our attitudes and inform our hearts are these:
o Proverbs 27:2 “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Self-promotion is less than wise.
o Proverbs 27:21 “The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, And each is tested by the praise accorded him.” Praise, celebrity, fame and public honors will certainly test our hearts to their core. Some of us will pass and others will fail this test.
Let’s live wisely in this tension. Understand that the alluring nature of fame and celebrity can afford us some things which will enhance our ministries, but they can also serve as traps which can seriously hinder as well.