Not Exactly The Best Re-Start for Richard Roberts

As I said in my last post, I wish Richard Roberts the best. But for him to ever succeed in a media driven culture, he must learn more about the power of perception. Today’s headlines in the Tulsa World were that God told him to resign. Perhaps, but for him to say that in a public forum where he knew the news media would be, is reputation suicide. Does God speak to people today? Absolutely. But do you just blurt that out to the national media? Not unless
you want to perceived as a nut. And this is how it gets reported in the wider media. Plus, would God have told him to resign if these allegations had not surfaced? From a media or PR perspective, a statement like this doesn’t help his case, it only hurts it from every conceivable angle.

If the church is going to make an impact today, we have to understand the power of perception and realize that how we are perceived is as important as who we are.  Pastors and ministry leaders, are you listening? Now more than ever Richard needs to let people know he’s not what this lawsuit suggests. In the same way, every pastor or ministry leader in America needs to remember that their message is being filtered through media and/or personal perceptions. Jesus understood how his message was being received, and we can do no less…

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Mark Deckard

    God spoke to me and told me…

     For the Roberts dynasty this phrase has been reduced to a bad habit that needs to be broken. Every thing they want to sell to people is wrapped in this holy refrain. It's nothing more than a dysfunctional extension of a pitifully transparent megalomania.

    God told Richard to resign. As if Richard and God are in total control of this whole thing together and it's just a matter of time before he is back in the saddle. To portray his resignation as an edict from God continues to put him above all human accountability. He answers only to God and he's just letting us all know that no man told him what to do.

     His claim that God spoke to Him and told him of a supernatural victory that would bless the university if he stepped aside is like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise. He is so desperate to show that he is tuned in to God ahead of everyone else yet he has no idea how ridiculous he looks trying to prophesy the future after it has already happened. Sorry Richard, but if you were as cognicent of Gods voice as you want us all to believe, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

  • Phil

    I received this from a reader tonight:


    My favorite part of Richard's story in the World: "Roberts told the students that God spoke to him Thursday and told him to step down. Roberts said he initially resisted the instructions, but God told him that if he would resign, the school would be blessed ''supernaturally.'"

    So ORU has Richard to thank for the $70 million???

    He really is just too arrogant or ignorant to get it. But, “God told me” was always the trump card out there, so I guess we should have expected it. Hopefully the new leader will be someone who has not lived so insulated from reality. The sooner we can put RR behind us the better, although the attorney for the plaintiffs is not defused by any of Richards antics.

  • matt bell

    "who we are isn't nearly as important as how we're perceived."

    So by this logic Ted Haggard was doing just fine. 

  • Bart

    Perception is reality in the public forum and I believe that is the context used here.  That is the context of the board after all.

    I can't believe any reasonable person would imagine that attributing their decision to resign in the midst of the issues surrounding ORU to direct communication from God and an inferrance that it was done to secure God's Blessing ($70 million dollars worth perhaps?) is a statement that should be made publically or that it would be seen by most people as anything other than a rationalization to set aside the disgrace associated with the objective facts of the situation.

    It is just irresponsible.

  • Phil

    Nope.  My comment has to do with the media and how people receive our message.  (Ever heard of "context" when reading?)  Integrity is integrity.  But it doesn't matter if you're a great and anointed man of God if people think you're a no-talent hack.  They won't listen to your message, and you've failed.  If more Christian leaders understood that perception matters, we'd make a far greater impact in the culture.

  • Matt G

    I initially "twiched" a bit when I read that line from Phil as well.  But my reaction didn't match yours, Matt.  I understand the context in which Phil made the comment. That said, I still don't agree with the statement.  

    I think the proper phrase is "How we are perceived is as important as who we are." If we place "perception" on higher ground than reality, we still end up with a lack of integrity and a host of problems.  
    The two should be approached with equal consideration.  Only then do you have honesty, transparency and an audience willing to listen and consider your point of view.
  • Richard Gaspard


    I'd like to say thanks for posting the various goings-on at ORU over the past several months.  You have been fair and honest, without swaying either way on the topics at hand.  I've found your comments to be not based in emotion or sentimentalism (is that a word?), but just in clear reporting, with opinions based in fact, an not subjectiveness.

    Your posts have been, almost exclusively, my main information gathering of ORU's state of affairs.  The posts from the various repliers have been spirited, emotionally charged, and thought-provoking. This has been a GREAT discussion thus far.

    Thank you for doing this.  The effects of your blog may be farther-reaching then you imagine. 

  • Good Commentary

    I know I have commented on this point previously.  I totally agree with your stand that whether or not God spoke to Richard in these words should only be important to Richard.

    Some gifts from God are to be shared, and some are for self edification.  When God tells someone to do something, it will almost always be inappropriate for that person to tell anyone – save maybe a spouse – that the words were from God.  Why? 

    Because for one, you could be wrong – yes we should be able to discern the shepherds voice, but we are human and can be at a place where we are NOT hearing God's voice.  With this posibility, sharing the source to those around you continues to set the stage for making your word unquestionable.  Anyone that questions you will immediately be discounted – and they will feel the pressure to not sharpen you, but to follow you.  Sharing this with the world, sets up a situation that could discredit you in the future.

    Secondly, as mentioned, you will appear foolish.  However, appearing foolish is not something uncommon to a Christian that operates on a spiritual level.  Almost any leader in the Bible looked foolish to the world at times.  Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.  Looking foolish for something that God told you to TELL people is a much different thing than looking foolish for sharing something that God gave you for your own edification.  So in this particular case, I totally agree.  It unreasonably places him out of touch with the people that he wants to evangelize.

  • matt bell

    I understand context … and I can't think of a single one in which your statement would be correct.

    Being genuine and clueless is much better than having no integrity and knowing it.  God is the ultimate judge of our words and actions, not you, the media or some board.  Last time I checked, God looks at the heart.

    Obviously, you have to be aware of how you're perceived.  But who you are will always be more important, even if the percentage is 51-49. 

  • Bart

    I doubt many people would disagree with you in your assertion that when someone stands before God, Integrity will trump Media Presence, Phil included.

    The context here is public perception not only within the community of faith but to the world.

    God knows the heart and can cut through that.  We don't share that ability and therefore have to rely upon outward actions and words.  The greater a person's impact upon the public arena, by definition, the more they are removed from the average person seeing them and knowling them well enough to make that distinction, hence the creation of the term "Public Persona."

    Like it or not, that is something that has to be managed in order to enhance the impact.  Likewise it can hinder or destroy any positive impact if it is not done or done poorly.

    That's the purpose of this blog in examining in large part, so it should not be surprising for things to be stated in that context.

  • Phil

    For the record: Integrity is important, honesty is important, personal character is important. Perhaps your not getting that from reading these articles? That's the baseline. That stuff goes without saying. The point of this blog is, if your point is to present a message to the culture, and that message isn't received properly because of something you've done or not done, then you've failed. All your integrity, character, and good intentions will not help that message get through if your perception is wacked. Jimmy Swaggart means well. I'm sure he has a good heart and has a lot of personal character. Over the years he's done some great things for the faith. But that little mistake in the hotel room a number of years ago will forever damage his perception in the culture, and no matter how much integrity he has now, most people don't care, and have no intention of listening to his message.

    But your criticism is good, and I'll be more careful in how I share that in the future… :-)

  • breaklight

    Somebody will always act the fool no matter what we do. Besides this no excuse to just have a go at the guy. The brother needs help. In fact I would dare say that many of us if we were raised up under such a leader as Oral Roberts whether we would it do any different? I don’t think Richard has discovered certain things for himself by himself. I was in a similar situation a few years ago and God just rocked my world until everything I believed in was challenged to very core. Then for a whole year I began a journey of rediscovery of God is to me and who I was in God for Him. You cannot give what you have not received. If you never saw your father submit to others for accountability and authority purposes what makes you think you will be able to do it to others? A lot of people don’t change because of fear and lies and they have been rooted to a particular way of life. Uprooting that is a very painful process. We fear change because we fail to understand what it is we need to change to and how we can benefit from it. That said the world will never respect believers until we start doing it ourselves. We need to start to show respect and love to one another regardless of conditions. I respect my father not because what he does to me but because of who he is. I love my wife not because she submits but for who she is and what God has said. My loving my wife has nothing to do with whether she submits to me or not. God loves me regardless of what I do and therefore it makes it easier for me to want to love Him back.

  • Phil

    Matt – that's the best suggestion yet, and I made that change to the original post.  Thanks.

  • Matt G

    Anytime, Phil.  I work in the world of hockey broadcasting…so I guess I'd get an assist for that suggestion?  (Hate it when I have to add cheese like that, sorry).

  • Phil

    Very good points.  He's actually the one hurting the university with these kinds of statements.  Yes, I do have more, and I'll be writing about it shortly…

  • Bart Breen


    Richard appeared on the 700 club yesterday and according to the summaries I saw, he repeated that God told him to Resign (despite God's apparently contradictory message to stay on until vindicated earlier) and further he characterized the former professor's bringing the lawsuit as people wanting to ruin ministry.

    Nothing new I guess.  He's had plenty of time to think however and yet he's continuing with these media statements even as preliminary rulings are set to come down in Tulsa.

    Not particularly wise media management in my opinion.

    Do you know more about this?