There’s a little Lady Gaga in all of us: we live for the applause.
Catalyst kicked off on a strong start with a challenging session focused on the weight of being known by Chris Seay and Andy Stanley. While Seay reminded us that we still have a fear of being truly, vulnerably known, Stanley pointed out that we all want to be known for something or as somebody.
Need proof of this “appetite for the known?” Take a look at social media; it’s a platform for showcasing your somebody-status and by its nature feeds that appetite without ever satisfying it. We always want more: more followers, more likes, more connections, more recognition.
The same is true of our church leadership. We crave “knownness” through mediums like larger congregations, level of influence in the community, numbers of sermon podcasts downloaded, or speaking engagements booked. We can actually convince ourselves that one of these proofs of being known will satisfy us – but they won’t.
Stanley laid out the “Laws of Applause” – the progression of our hunger for recognition.
The Laws of Applause
What’s applauded as exceptional the first time will be expected the next time.
- Exceptional becomes expectional
- Most leaders get tripped up here
Applause is intoxicating.
- Intoxicated people don’t make very good decisions
- Those most applauded for feel most entitled to
- This is why Senior Pastors shouldn’t have a parking spot until they’re in their 60s
Applause is addictive.
- We start looking for it
- We start manufacturing it
Basically, what starts as an unexpected occurrence quickly evolves into a manufactured need that invades and poisons the effectiveness of the very ministry or industry for which we claim to be serving. What starts as an effect of our effort becomes the cause for our effort.
Where Do We Go From Here?
So what do we do with this desire to be known? This love of applause? After all, we are leaders and cannot escape being known. What we need to do is realize that we have “been called to be known.” God wants us to be known, and to use that status for Him. To leverage our gifts in our calling for His glory, not for the pursuit of applause. Much like being known is part and parcel with leadership, applause/recognition are bound to be a part of our leadership calling.
To avoid the applause addiction, Stanley suggested we look to the example of John the Baptist. If we turn to chapters Mark 1, John 1, and verses like John 3:26, we see examples that all tell the story of a well-known leader. A man who had a following, who had his share of applause; yet also a man whose thunder was stolen by the arrival of the next-big-leader, Jesus. Time and again we see a man who, instead of pursuing applause, points to Jesus and says “Yes. This is who it’s always been for; this is who you’ve been applauding all along,” even when his followers expect him to point the attention back to himself.
God wants us to be known so that, like John, we too can point others to Jesus. We absolutely need to pursue our gifts, to produce our best work, but not for ourselves and our applause addictions. To close, a final concept from Stanley’s session: we are given the gift of being known that we may make Him known. Let’s be good stewards.