I met a “celebrity” pastor at T4G yesterday.
I can confidently report that he was normal.
In fact, he was more normal than many “normal” pastors I’ve met. He was warm, friendly, engaged in our conversation, didn’t try to get away after the initial pleasantries, and wasn’t continually looking over my shoulder for someone more interesting or important to talk to. And I have to say that most of the well-known pastors and preachers I’ve met have been similar.
The problem is often with those who surround these men. In my experience, it’s often the gatekeepers, the hangers-on, the media, PR & marketing guys, the organizers, the administrators, the “friends,” etc., that create the impression of superiority, aloofness, arrogance, and disinterest in lesser mortals.
I’ve met a good number of them too, and though there are some happy exceptions, I’m afraid that they often give their masters and “friends” a bad name. When no one else is around, they might give you the time of day, but meet them in a crowd and you’re suddenly invisible. Or if you are talking to them in a crowd, you wonder if you have a parrot on your shoulder!
Past too much like the present
Before I was converted, I’m afraid that I was a regular sampler of Glasgow’s nightlife. I used to go to clubs that were attended by the top Scottish soccer players (the equivalent of your ARod, Tom Brady, etc). Because of their large “retinues” you wouldn’t normally get near to talk to them – unless you met in the restroom. I “bumped” into quite a few of them there over the years and usually found them friendly, decent, down-to-earth, etc. Just like the few “celebrity” pastors I’ve met.
But again, it was their retinue, the guys basking in reflected glory, the entourage, the guys that probably could hardly kick a ball, that by their attitudes and actions usually caused the public perception of these “stars” arrogance and superiority.
So, to the celebrity pastors, I would say, you may be the humblest, godliest, and most decent pastor in the world; but if you have bumptious, pretentious, person-respecting staff and (mis)representatives, don’t be surprised if people who don’t know you think that you are just like them. I would prescribe them a daily dose of James 2v1-4 and maybe some regular time at Calvary.
To the entourage, the “friends,” I would say, go pastor a church yourself for a few years (rather than by proxy), and you might then stop to talk to some “ordinary” pastors at the next T4G.
The Word of God reveals the human heart. So do large conferences.