Avoiding The “Ministry Celebrity Trap”

Several weeks ago, I was having lunch with a friend of mine after church on a Sunday. As we were leaving the restaurant, an older couple was walking out at the same time, and the wife came up to me and said, “I just love seeing you on stage at church!” I had never met her before in my life.

At our Spring Fling event the Sunday before Easter, I walked up to a family who was new to the church and introduced myself. The wife said, “I know you – you’re the funny one! You do a great job up there on stage.”

I’ve been on staff at Eastridge going on seven years now (non-consecutively), and I’ve served there for many more years than that. My current tenure on staff puts me out front more than my first go-round. I’m onstage hosting the service at least once a month, and I’ve begun leading worship occasionally – something I haven’t done since our church was much smaller than it is today.

I’ll never get used to people coming up to me, knowing my name when I don’t know theirs. Sometimes I can go to town and not avoid seeing someone I know. Yes, it’s one of the features of small-town life, but I often feel bad when I think I should know the name of the person speaking to me.

Admiral-Ackbar-trapHere’s my confession: there’s something about a prominent ministry role that I struggle with. I call it the “ministry celebrity trap.” I like to think of myself as down-to-earth, but it’s tough not to let the fact that people know who I am because of my onstage and backstage roles at church go to my head. I can talk about humility all day long, but the straight-up, unvarnished truth is that my flesh craves that attention and those accolades.

Jesus warned his disciples to avoid this trap:

“So you too, when you’ve done everything you are commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves. We have done only what we were supposed to do.’”

Luke 17:10 (TLV)

The secret to staying out of the trap of “ministry celebrity” is an attitude of humility – not some false, “oh I’m soooooo unworthy” kind of self deprecation, but a genuine grounding in who I am in Jesus.

I love my job, and I love to serve. I love the people I serve with, and I love the congregation I serve. Most importantly, I love the God I serve, and I want my words and actions to reflect that love in a truly humble way.