Saturday, 26 April 2014

Why I may fail as a charismatic preacher.

Now I qualify that with the word "may". It is not a sure thing. It is more an unsure thing because people do change. Some people are rarefied by challenges. Others are terrified by it. The truth is, you will never really know it until you are thrown into the situation. But let's do a mental exercise here. Let's put imagination to work. I wonder what happens if I am a charismatic preacher? What challenges will I face? In fact,
 what challenges does a charismatic preacher in general face?

Personally I trust a charismatic preacher will conduct himself above board. In any event, he is where he is because he has proven himself over the years. His industry has paid off. That much can be safely presumed. I can trust that he will resist a bribe. He will refuse a questionable proposal. He will watch his tongue most of the time. He will also reject favoritism, discrimination and overt nepotism (leaving covert nepotism aside). I will also expect the charismatic preacher to be able to control his carnal appetites, to refuse an indecent proposal, to turn away from worldly affiliation, and to resist a gamble that ordinarily seems too good to resist.

Now, it seems like I am describing an almost perfect person and I know that's quite delusional. Let me balance it up then. If the Catholic priests convicted of sexual misconduct 
is any indication, I guess what is uncommon to pious men can sometimes be rather common when they are given enough opportunity, indulgence and adulation to feel infallible or indispensable.

So, my praise for them may be on the effusive side but I guess the majority of them will struggle successfully to meet the collective expectation. Still, my point is a nuanced one about these charismatic preachers and why I may fail as one. There is just  something that goes far deeper than the sins of the carnal flesh 
as listed above.

I believe that even the sin of the carnal flesh pays homage to this core sin. And it is the sin of the ego. This is what I truly fear. And this is where I find it most uncanny or strange. Here's why. If we take Lucifer’s fall as a timeless lesson for all, the strange bit is that we often overestimate our own ability to overcome pride and underestimate Lucifer’s. Although seldom openly admitted, we think we are special, chosen and different. As such, we tend to measure ourselves with a 
centimeter ruler and interpret the results in miles. And therein lies the problem.

Lucifer fell because of pride and he was needless to say the apple of the Father's eye. Alas, being highly favored was not enough for the most talented creation before man. Lucifer didn't just want to be the object of God's love. He wanted to be God; full stop. He wanted to be worshipped. And here is a wry quote that comes to mind, "If you worship me, you will find that I am actually a very nice guy." This is the implied danger
 faced by many charismatic preachers. Like it or not, the adoration of charismatic preachers by the masses somehow do cross the line from respect and reverence to idolization and even worship, albeit demonstrated most indirectly; most times even unknowingly. And the effect on the charismatic preacher can be unnervingly delusional and even self-realizing. 

Now let's go back to my chances of being a successful charismatic preacher. Pride is a slippery slope for me and it is the main reason why I may not make the cut. What makes pride even more insidious is its close cousin called humility. Here's another quote that comes to mind, "Most of what they call humility is successfully disguised arrogance." (Nassim Nicholas Taleb “The Bed of Procrustes”).

Many would think that the opposite of pride is humility. Well, this is not always the case. In fact, most times, the private self-ingratiation of pride needs to be buttressed by some public form of self-effacement. You can call it a hired public relation officer or a spin doctor of humility. Of course, I am employing a semantic twist to humility here. My point is that charismatic preachers will be adored. That's a fact. That's a fact even if the preacher himself (with the best of intention) constantly reminds his people to redirect their adoration to the right person. They will also be showered with praises. They will
 be treated like the "Vicar of Christ" so to speak. 

Let me go out on a limb here to prove my point with this scripture. If no man comes to the Father except through the son, then for a charismatic preacher, there is a hidden risk that his enraptured congregation may take that scripture to its next logical conclusion, that is, "no man comes to the son except through my pastor."

This is where the resolve to resist the onslaught of pride gradually wears down and become compromised by a deluded sense of self-believability. This is also where projected humility becomes disingenuous over time as the preacher’s popularity rise by default of congregational strength.

As a result, these popular preachers will have to struggle through with this larger-than-life image forced upon them and it is not going to be easy. I therefore empathize with them. In 
fact I empathize with myself more. I believe there is no immunity for pride unless one is immune from being a human being.

In the end, I think that all such personalities, who are constantly being placed quite involuntarily under the spotlight, should be reminded that when the blinding light shines directly at them, they cannot possibly see where they are going. It clouds their way and they sometimes have to muddle through. This leaves the pitfalls, potholes and road bumps in the open and
 increases the risk of missteps and mistakes.

I guess pride has an insidious way of anesthetizing us into a lull of invulnerability. It conflates our sense of self importance and gives us this "I-just-know-I-am-right" mindset. This mindset is stubbornly resistant to changes even when such changes are long overdue. Before long, the victim is entombed in his own self-fortifying sanctuary, which is watered and fed weekly by the wholehearted endorsement of the majority of his congregation.

 for all those reasons, the yoke of the charismatic preacher is indeed heavy. And a yoke I would be unduly burdened with. If we cast it on the back of Christ, we will overcome eventually. But if we want it all for ourselves - the glory, the fame, the adulation, the perpetuity in succession, the iron-fisted control, the self-conjured charisma, the self-deluded invulnerability, the holier-than-thou-or-righter-than-you mentality (not openly embracing them but progressively and largely unknowingly), then we are ineluctably following in the angel of light's footstep (2 Corinthians 11:14). That is, the one who once thought that he was better than his Creator and considered a replacement as long overdue. Cheerz.

* Image from a page by Brandon Wallace.

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