We all face it as Christian leaders. It’s the temptation of being “up front.” There is a level of influence we have that we pretend to “not want,” but down deep… we like it there.
The hardest thing to face when you’re “up front” is to know what you say is from “down deep.” It comes from a congruent life. It’s not hollow.
In As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Eugene Peterson has a sermon on Balaam. He was hired by Balak to curse Israel.
Peterson cuts to the core quickly:
As both Hebrews and Christians reflect on this story, it looms large as a warning against religious eloquence, whether your own or another’s. Balaam had a great reputation as a spiritual giant. He was suave and knowledgeable. But it was all external. His oratory was all in his mouth, not in his heart. He had nothing inside. There was no substance to him, a hollow man.
It’s easy in American church culture to look at the person on the stage. There they are… on a huge platform in a huge auditorium saying things. They must be real. They must have something to say! It must be genuine.
There are two places we need to guard in our Christian lives. As the spectator, it is vital to understand that having a “place” to speak (on a platform) doesn’t equate to that person actually having something real to say.
The second place is the person on the platform. Don’t be hollow. Don’t abandon the private life because your public life looks good on a big platform with multiple big screens showing your face all over the room.
For both positions, it’s also important to guard how we see things. We often see something as “valid” in a big space, but in a small space? Do we value the voice of someone that hasn’t “made it” onto the platform? Or, if you are the speaker with the platform, do you value the space that may be across a table in a coffee shop somewhere where no one is taking a picture and it doesn’t show up on your social media feed?
Our temptation is to live life facing out. We don’t look in enough. And we’ll be in trouble before too long if we keep ignoring the inward.