Hero Worship

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by rbell, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. rbell

    rbell
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    OK...this comes out of the youth thread, but I think it's appicable across the board.

    There's a lot of dynamic leadership out there in Christian circles. Many of these folks have devoted followings. Some of it, at times, appears to border on "hero worship." It cuts across all lines, denominations, and conservative/liberal leanings. I see it with popular Christian Bible teachers. I see it with musicians. I see it with evangelicals, fundamentalists, and everywhere in between. I think that in my "target group" (jr. high-collegiate) this problem seems to be more prominent...but it's entirely possible for a 70 year-old to elevate their favorite preacher/singer to a status beyond what is appropriate...however, the 13 year-old is usually more vocal about it with their "hero."

    So here's some questions for yas:
    1. At what point is a line crossed from "enthusiastic supporter" to one who engages in hero worship?
    2. How do you discourage "hero worship" from taking place with your group you lead? (I'm interested in all responses, but especially those who work with students)
    3. What responsibility does the person that's "idolized" have for taking themselves off the pedestal? What should they do to discourage "hero worship?"
    Obviously, hero worship is wrong. Certainly, it can devastate churches and take one's eyes off Christ. And of course, it can (and does) happen in many Christian circles today.

    I look forward to your responses.
     
  2. donnA

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    Thats interesting, and I don't know any of your answers, but I will definitely keep an eye on this to see what everyone think s about this.
    When I was leading the women's ministry, we did a weekly bible study, we usually had Beth Moore. Now theres nothing particularly wrong with Beth Moore, she wants you to keep your attention on Jesus not her. But I noticed women wanting to do a lot more Beth then anything else. And I refused to allow us to it, we were not going to become the Beth Moore fan club. Now I am not leader, and thankfully the new leader mixing i other good authors as well to keep a balance. I can see how having a favorite christian author can easily turn in to some kind of hero worship.
     
  3. benz

    benz
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    Well this is my opinion...

    Even while i was a christian up until recently I used to consider my favourite artists as my idols like they were rock gods, I set my philosophies and ideals around their beliefs. This was when I was less mature, after I really "met" christ after he confronted me about living a life that was ungodly (smoking pot, drinking, smoking, partying and etc) He really changed my life. It was a really long process but Christ has accomplised a lot in my life. Like two years back I stop idolizing muscians because I was convicted that only God should have that much importance in my life where I base my life on his teachings and beliefs!!!
    YES I THINK IT IS WRONG TO IDOLIZE MUSCIANS!!!
     
  4. Jon-Marc

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    While I have loved certain people and even envied them for various reasons, I have never idolized anyone. The only one I idolize is Jesus. Because of that I have no answers to your questions.
     
  5. Lagardo

    Lagardo
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    In many ways, we have a bookstore culture in which those who reach the best seller list are immediately heros for us to follow. This goes for pastors, authors, musicians, etc. The interesting thing is that people will like someone without knowing anything of their actual theology.

    Take popular Christian musicians for example. How often do the listeners even know what denomenation the person belongs to, let alone their particular beliefs. I know of one rather famous Christian musician who wrote numerous worship songs and radio hits. He was very popular, yet he believed it was wrong to tell someone of another faith that they needed Christ. He believed that God worked through many faiths. He was very much into native-American mysticism. I had some friends who met him and were shocked when they heard him cuss, saw him drink beer (no, please, let's not take this to another discussion of alcohol), and heard him talk about how native americans had much more spirituality that Christians. My response to them was, why are you shocked. He never said otherwise. You just assumed he believed like you because you enjoy his music.

    As Christians, we must be discipled and we must disciple one another beyond the Christian culture.
     
  6. rbell

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    I've watched this from an insider's position. FOrgive the lengthy story:

    What I do with our worship leaders in our youth ministry is this: I work on discipling them, helping them mature, helping them musically (become better instrumentally) and help them in the ins and outs of leading a worship service...those little details that become important...in planning, conducting, adjusting during the service, etc.

    As I do that, I am at first that band's leader. I call almost all the shots. As they mature and become ready to take on more responsibility, I "work myself out of a job." The two bands that I've worked with the longest have become excellent men and women of God, good worship leaders, and I serve as an advisor and "fill in" when necessary.

    As these bands have progressed and improved, they've, quite frankly, gotten good. One of those bands is really good. And thus, we begin to see the genesis of a "following." And thus, we see a pedestal begin to be erected.

    I hammer all my leaders with these thoughts:
    • Yes, it CAN happen to you. Fame, recognition, and becoming idolized is more intoxicating than any drug you can take. And when you're "hooked," you'll find yourself doing things to keep the fame that you wouldn't have done. So be awake at all times.
    • Constantly remind your "fans" of these things:
      • You are absolutely not worth worshipping. Only God receives that honor.
      • You are not leading worship because you are perfect. Are there higher expectations on worship leaders? You better believe it. But, you're still just a forgiven sinner leading other forgiven sinners into the presence of a Holy God.
      • God wants us. So what if you play a guitar well? God doesn't "rank" talents. Make sure your folks you lead understand that you would praise God if you lost both hands and could never play an instrument again. Consequently, that puts you on the same level with other worshippers...you're just leading them.
    • You have no right to lead others in worship if you're not a worshipper. As soon as you're "performing" in a worship setting, sit down. Now...there are settings where "performance" happens. There's a line there. But when your goal is corporate worship, you cease to be a performer.
    • I've been on both sides of this issue (worship leader and preacher)...and I'm fully convinced: the central focus of worship is the hearing and applying and doing of God's Word. Worship leaders: you are important. You "set the table." But we feast on Scripture. Keep that in mind, and let that attitude permeate your leadership...be flexible and work with the one preaching. Keep the Word central.
    • (this one gets repeated the most) Assume you "make it" as a leader or band. ALWAYS be under the authority and discipling of a local church. Have a pastor that is "your pastor"--especially if you find yourself gone on Sundays a good bit. Local church membership, accountability, and involvement IMO is one of the top barometers of one's likelihood to be "living it" in the limelight.
    Yep, it was long...but those are some things I am dealing with.
     
  7. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    This is a real issue and as you've already figured out, it is not limited to youth culture. Many of us have a favorite pastor who may or may not be the pastor of the church that holds our membership. Innocently, it happens because some folks are more dynamic and appear more authentic than others.

    The only way to avoid the dangers in this is to make sure that your youth are grounded in Scripture. Of course, for this to happen, your youth must be redeemed. Once your youth are passionate about God's glory and understand the place of Scripture in evaluating claims, then the hero worship thing will fade.

    Now, if the hero is grounded in the Word (in word and deed) and speaks/sings Biblical truth to your youth, you don't really have a problem, do you?
     
  8. drfuss

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    In the opening post:
    1. At what point is a line crossed from "enthusiastic supporter" to one who engages in hero worship?
    2. How do you discourage "hero worship" from taking place with your group you lead? (I'm interested in all responses, but especially those who work with students)
    3. What responsibility does the person that's "idolized" have for taking themselves off the pedestal? What should they do to discourage "hero worship?"
    Perhaps this is a reason Jesus instructed Christians (Matt. 23:7-10) not to address another Christian by an elevated title, i.e. Rabbi, Father,or Teacher. In todays's jargon, that would be Pastor or Reverend. Good leaders will discourage the use of such titles in addressing another Christian.
     
  9. bapmom

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    rbell,

    awesome OP! You are being fair and forthright and Im impressed.

    I, too, see this from an insider's point of view, not so much with youth though. Over the years Ive even had some ideas on the questions you asked.

    1)
    IMO, a line is crossed whenever the leader is placed in such a position that he is never to be questioned, even on minor issues. There are some leaders (preachers) who we trust of course, we believe they are right Biblically so we have some trust with what they say. Thats understandable. BUT, when you refuse to even consider that they might be wrong than a line has been crossed. I have seen this taken to such an extreme that the person's outline cannot even be corrected for grammatical errors when transcribing to a typewritten SS lesson. That is over the line.

    It is "hero worship" when you refer to their life as illustrations of how we ought to live more than you refer to Biblical examples. I don't really have a problem with using someone's life as a positive example, after all, God did this in the Bible, too. This could be mitigated by also including a negative example, but "hero worship" would never include a negative about the "hero" being held up as an example. This is a problem, too.

    It has crossed a line in your youth group when the teens talk more about wanting to live/do/be "just like (hero)", INSTEAD of them aspiring to be more like Christ.

    2)
    I would discourage this first of all by getting them more focused on Bible study rather than "hero's life study." My teaching illustrations would come out of the Bible more and I'd avoid using that person as an example for awhile.

    I think alot of hero worship comes out of the idea that "if Im following the right MAN, than I must be right with GOD." ANd it is that wrong notion that ought to be addressed quickly. The students need to have their own relationship with God, and not focus so much on their hero that they think his relationship with Christ translates onto them somehow.

    I would not, however, criticize the hero, as all this does is create defensiveness in the listener, and they will quickly tune you out. With proper Biblical teaching they grow up, and eventually realize their hero is just as human as they are. But because they have that Biblical foundation under them, this realization will not bring bitterness and disillusionment with it.

    3)
    The responsibility of the hero is difficult. Everyone I know who is getting "hero worship" is adamant that they NOT receive this attention. Yet all that creates is more admiration for their humility! I believe that sometimes they get where they like the attention (even unconsciously), and the hero needs to be aware that their flesh enjoys that attention just like anyone else would.
    Some steps I see that could be taken are
    - use other people (instead of your own life) as an example of how to live right. Get your "followers" focused on other people around them who are just like they are, yet are overcoming struggles.
    - use instances in your own life in which you failed, or had a struggle and another person helped you.
    - when you see the hero worshipping start, do what you can to take yourself out of the picture (ie. don't let them name things after you, etc.)
    The difficult thing for the hero is that almost anything they do to minimize themself is seen as yet another example of having a humble spirit and not setting oneself up in pride....so it creates even more "hero worship".



    drfuss,
    I can't say I agree with your assessment of it being about titles. My main experience with hero worship is in the case where the "hero" refused to be called by any "title" other than "brother", a title shared by all the men in the church. And his predecessor has continued that tradition. Neither one of them was/is called Pastor even though that is the position they held/hold in a very large, prominent church.


    (sorry about the length of this post!)
     
    #9 bapmom, Mar 6, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  10. rbell

    rbell
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    Good points, all...

    I know I'm referring to teens a lot in my posts. I'm not trying to necessarily stay in that age group with regards to this discussion. It's just that:
    1. That's the group I work with, and am thus familiar with.
    2. That age group doesn't "hide" its devotion as well as some of us "refined" old folks. But I would assert that hero worship can take place with any age group.
    It's amazing how many areas of Christian life this reaches...pastoral authority, the nature of worship, interactions (both good and bad) among church leadership, accountability, discipleship...quite a large umbrella there. (BTW, good job of staying on topic. I should know...I chase rabbits as a side job).:laugh:

    I realize that this idea of "hero worship" is sometimes used as a perjorative here on the BB. But let's unpack the idea...how would you determine if a friend is going overboard? Let's say that I have a friend that really, really likes Atlanta area pastor Charles Stanley. What actions or attitudes on their part would make you think, "OK, this person's taking this too far"?
     
  11. gb93433

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    If your hero is Christ then it is not wrong.

    Too many substitute the opinions of others for the hard work of studying the Bible.
     
  12. bapmom

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    one red flag to me would be if their reason for believing things is "because Charles Stanley said so...."
     
  13. bapmom

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    another would be if my friend decides Im "not good company", "not a 'fundamentalist'", or "not willing to listen to God's Word" just because I disagree with and/or dare to question Charles Stanley.
     

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