There have been some interesting conversations on this blog lately about criticism of different people and organizations, and the actual purpose of the blog. I’ve written before about our purpose, and I have to admit, the posts dealing with scandal and problems among ministries and non-profits seem to be the most popular. People do respond to criticism, and for whatever reason, seem to gravitate to those posts. My blogs about Randy and Paula White’s divorce, Bishops that sell anointed soap, or Juanita Bynum getting in a fist fight with her husband in a hotel parking lot always seem to get people worked up.
My point is, I’m not writing about gossip. There’s plenty of scandal on the “E” Network, so we don’t need more. However, my interest is branding and perception – how we look to the world, and how it impacts our message. Any professional communicator knows that the reception of a message is filtered through the way it’s presented, and the people who present it. So our integrity, lifestyle, and perception matters.
It doesn’t matter how anointed you are, if people think your private jet, luxury car, or mansion is excess. They’ll turn off your message. As a pastor or ministry leader, you may feel justified in flying in a jet, or having a mansion, but if it damages your witness, then why would anyone who’s serious about presenting a Christian message to the world not take that into consideration?
I also note issues like the Richard Roberts / ORU controversy, because it impacts not only their perception, but the trust and relationship with donors, supporters, and future students. In Richard’s case, I like him, and have known him for many years, but right now he seems to be listening to the wrong people. This Tulsa World story shows just how much he continues to shoot himself in the foot. When supporters of ORU need to know the President has integrity, is a solid thinker, can embrace a wide swath of evangelical America, and has a bold vision for the future, the World reports that: “According to Richard Roberts, he received the prophecy six months ago. An out-of-state minister known for prophecy told Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts he would go through a "major storm" but would come through it. The minister also said, "When you enter your 60th year, you'll step to a new level of ministry you've never known," Roberts recalled in an interview with the Tulsa World.”
It’s not an indictment of prophecy to say this is a really bad time for Richard to be saying he received a prophecy about this six months ago. First, why didn’t he do something about it? Six months is plenty of time to ward off a disaster. And second, to the non-believing world, this just makes him sound weird – not the solid leader he needs to be in people’s minds. Plus, the fact that his own people don't support him, says a lot about his inability to be a visionary leader.
So here’s my point – even when we mention personal issues on the blog, it’s not out of personal criticism, but an effort to make people aware of the image and perception we’re presenting to the world. Jesus was upset at the religious leaders of His day because they knew how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but they didn’t understand the signs of the times.
We need to understand the signs of the times, if we’re going to justify the attention of the culture. And without their attention, our message will fall on deaf ears…