This is an open letter written to any woman who has eagerly followed popular Christian speakers and authors…
In the past 72 hours, the fallout from Jen Hatmaker’s positional shift on a few theological areas has created a spiritual Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in the evangelical community.
I think that this mass meltdown creates a great opportunity for a long overdue discussion. If you haven’t read Hatmaker’s article, you can click here.
It’s time to talk about the rockstar culture that WE – like you and me – have created. We have put women like Hatmaker, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer and others on pedestals and worshiped at the feet of their blogs, Facebook posts, conferences, and events. We’ve waited in hour-long line for three-second selfies that we post and hope that every single one of our Christian girlfriends will see and envy. In full disclosure, I’m sitting in my office next to a large collage of photos of myself with a few of those women, so I’ve had my fan girl moments as well.
Here’s the ugly truth, friends: Our favorite speakers and authors did not ask to be put on our pedestals. We did that. They said “yes” to the using the gift God gave them and bless their hearts, they’ve done their jobs well. It’s us who began to exalt them for it.
Looking for some clues about whether or not you may have your favorite Christian women’s speaker or author on a pedestal?
- Do your thoughts sound more like your favorite Bible teacher or Jesus?
- How much instruction or advice flowing from your words comes from the Bible or from the latest book that you read by your favorite author?
- Do you choose your Bible studies based on who’s hot out there or the stubborn places where you need to surrender your heart to God?
Yes, these are hard questions, but we need to be honest about our complicity in this situation. Friends, point your finger at Hatmaker if you’d like, but pay heed to the other four fingers pointing back at you.
Somewhere along the line, our community decided that a certain category of women speakers and authors were more valuable than the Jesus-loving women who tirelessly serve in their children’s ministry for hospitality team every single weekend at church. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Bible speak against that very thing?
People don’t belong on pedestals. Not even our favorite ones.
Friends, I so appreciate how Jen Hatmaker adds humor, richness and spark to our lives. Once, she liked one of my tweets and I think that I tweeted about that. But y’all, she is still a human, just like us. I never placed Hatmaker on any type of pedestal, so her theological shift doesn’t have a direct impact on my life. Am I curious about the details surrounding her spiritual journey? Not anymore than anyone else. Why? Because her spiritual beliefs aren’t a pillar supporting mine.
The nasty little problem with putting someone on a pedestal is that they never stay put. Hatmaker has wiggled off a number of your pedestals much to your dismay. You loved her because you felt that she was just like you and now she’s not. So, you’re throwing social media tantrums filled with unkind words and ugly comments.
Why is it is so easy for us to assassinate those that we once adored? Are those character-killing bullets about us or them?
For those standing up in righteous anger, I know that you are trying to stand for Jesus against a woman that you no longer feel is part of the team. But, is this the battle that Jesus has called you to fight or does this battle belong to the Lord? Every single one of our favorite speakers and authors is accountable to God for her faith and works. Voice your concerns and ask your questions, but give them the same love and respect that shows us as disciples of Christ. In Contrary to popular belief, these women are not ultimately accountable to us, even if we bought their books, subscribed to their blog or attended their events.
Even though she isn’t accountable to us, Hatmaker knew that the fur would fly. You see, when a person reveals his or her calling to teach or preach the gospel, a wise old pastor flips open the Bible and reads this verse from James 3:1: “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
If you choose to become a Christian teacher, author, preacher or speaker, you live with a target on your back. And beware because Christians love to shoot their own.
As a Bible teacher, I am aware of the responsibility that comes with the influence that God has given to me. Anyone who aspires to teach God’s word must be uber-conscious of what comes out of our mouths because we are accountable to God, but also because our words and actions can bring harsh reactions from others.
If you are unhappy with Hatmaker’s position…
The good news is that you get to adjust her influence in your life. Screaming, yelling, judging or snarking just proves once again that Christians know how to shoot down their own. You’ve still got the choice if you want to buy her books, subscribe to her blog or attend her events. You cannot, however, make her change her mind or apologize to you for shifting her position. Have we not learned this year from the current election cycle? Com’on people!
What’s the takeaway for you? Here’s what I’d like to offer:
First, live it out in over speaking it out. Hatmaker’s current theological position isn’t your responsibility and speaking out on social media isn’t the litmus test for standing for or against something. Anyone who really truly wants to stand for righteousness needs to do more than just post or comment about it. After you’re done making your public statements, then get back to the business of what God has called you to do and how He has called you to live. Stay in your life’s lane.
Second, be wise. Flip open James 3 again and pray for the wisdom that comes from God to decide on the level of influence you choose to give Hatmaker or any author. You are in charge of who you allow to influence or encourage your life, so pray and ask God, – not your girlfriends – to help you make a decision.
Third, keep doing Bible studies. It’s crucial to talk with each other over matters of faith, personal and social issues, just make sure to invite God’s truth into the dialogue. My preference is that the more controversial the issue, the closer in proximity you should be during the discussion. You should be doing Bible studies on sanctity of life, God and government, Christ-centered identity, sexuality and other hot button issues. Goodness, we have so many great studies available to us! I love that we can circle up together and open God’s Word along with gifted teachers who encourage us along the way. Just be careful to choose the studies that bring God’s focus to your fuzziness and not just pick someone whose popular.
Finally, as a speaker and author, I can tell you firsthand what a privilege it is to write and share what God has given to me. I can also tell you that I have to work out my faith just like you every single day. Just ask my hubby and my kids. So, I never, ever want a woman to believe that I’ve got my life more together than her just because I have a few books on a bookstore shelf or because I stand on a stage to speak. I’m a flawed, but deeply loved human who needs to surrender to a holy God every day of my life. If you want to show your appreciation, let your authors/speakers know how God has transformed your life through their work.
Friends, I hope that we can redeem this mess and let it be an important and lasting warning to get the stars out of our eyes so we can keep our adoration on God alone.
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