Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

Are you an Iconoclast?

My favorite definition of “Iconoclast” is someone who does things other people say can’t be done. He or she is an independent thinker – even when that means going against the crowd. That sounds easy to say, but research shows that with enough social pressure, it’s almost impossible for most people to stand alone in their beliefs, views, and opinions.

Study after study indicate that few people are actually strong or committed enough to fight the influence of the crowd. As a result, we hear fewer diverse voices, and original thinking gets lost in the noise of the group. The biggest culprit? Fear. Most people site fear as the reason they hesitate to disagree with bosses, argue for their real political opinion, or stand up for their faith.

We’ve all been guilty of it.  But it cheapens our culture when all our voices aren’t heard.  From a practical perspective, by just “going along” we hurt our businesses, our families, our religious organizations, and most of all, our dreams.  The longer we continue to hold back our own thinking, the harder it will be for us to have original thoughts at all.

Photo by curtis powell on Unsplash

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  1. Sometimes you pay a price.  You give an organization what they NEED instead of what they WANT and you fall hard.  After awhile they "get it" and some small form of vindication comes, but again, at a price.  The satisfaction comes when you really know you were a change agent…finally, even with the scars.

  2. I know what you mean. I have seen some organisations churn through dozens of people in the same job, all recommending the same thing – then about 10 years later they finally "get it". I dont enjoy other people learning at my expense.

  3. I agree 100%, Phil. Too often, I find myself saying "Now why did you say X when you should have said Y?" And the answer? Yep. Fear.

    Fear that if my political viewpoints offend loyal readers, well, they won’t be loyal readers any more. Fear that if I admit a friend’s taste in movies and books offends me, it could result in a relationship rift.

    What I need to remember is that by ‘going along’, I’m ‘going against’ God’s word…that I only need to pause a nanosecond to hear what HE’D like me to say, instead of depending on my fear-filled self to come up with something PC.

    Maybe all I really need to do is change PC from Political Correctness to Please Christ.


  4. I thought the definition of ‘Iconoclast’ was someone who was opposed to the use of Icons?? Which seems contradictory for a Christian in media. *confused*

  5. Great post, Phil! (I just started following your blog last month, and have been blessed so much by your newsbits and insights. Thanks!)

    I’m twenty-seven, and have been putting off things God has put in my heart, and I’ve been doing this for some time–too long!  I’m at a point where I either pursue those things, or let a big part of myself die along with them.  …but I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life walking around like something out of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, ya’ know?!

    Like you mentioned, it’s hard to go against the crowd or family, etc., but if we’re trying to "Please Christ", it’s makes it a lot easier.

    By the way, i’m finding my voice on my blog!     


    ~Sarah M. 

  6. "If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything"!..This is what my pastor says to us most times in my church in Nigeria and i have found out, its true, so i always take a stand for the truth i believe in and no matter what, i try to be a Christ pleaser rather than a people pleaser, as He has the final say in my life…i will rather be correct according to God’s word than be politically correct by man’s standard! God bless you Phil for this!

  7. For iconoclast thinking, see

    For example, "Global Ponzi-Schemes of Deception That Caused Economic Crises Linked to Prosperity Preachers and Their Morally-Hazardous Doxie"…  links a financial writer’s ideas with the wide-angle posit that give-to-get shenanigans of oligarch-like personas of Christian Broadcasting are, in deed, linked to statist anti-natural law political leaders who happily find the broadcast-church-taught sheep easy prey…   What is woefully missing in broadcast Christianity is simple critical thought and self-correction and confession that many errant doxies are taught for the sake of self-interested leaders…. who have together (media, politics, broadcast religion) in collusion created one hell of an economic crisis; wherein the mega-rich are too big to fail and the sheep are too powerless to stop all extractions… But the empowered oligarchs (media, politics, broadcast Christianity) own the media machine… And their collective "eye" is the eye that alters all.  What they say and see about their own agendas seem to successfully occupy the minds of most of their listeners… Thus the moral hazard of the day is mental slavery, mesmerizing deception and inability to see hard truths that expose self-interested agendas of the empowered vaccuums of plebe monies and liberties.

  8. Intriguing definition of iconoclast Phil. 

    Fear should be cast out at every opportunity, but I think there is something to be said for a love which "goes along" with the crowd.  Jesus went along with the crowd for 30 years, and then 3 years later, in love went along with them again.  I guess there’s a difference between submission in fear and submission in love.  I’d like to be an iconoclast for the latter.

  9. I think I’d have to respectfully, but radically disagree with you on that one Joe.  Jesus didn’t get crucified by "going along with the crowd."  I’ll let Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) who was one of the famous “Inklings” – the group of writers at Oxford that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien say it the best.  In her book, Letters to the Diminished Church, she writes:

    “First, I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming with no offense to it.  Seeing that Christ went about the world giving the most violent offense to all kinds of people, it would seem absurd to expect that the doctrine of his person can be so presented as to offend nobody.  We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus, meek and mild, was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger.”

  10. Perhaps Joe’s’ point was not to imply a watering down of Jesus’ radical gospel, but simply the incarnation: God with us.

  11. Much-needed point to raise. What happens when there are repurcussions for being this way, for those of us tired of being made to feel bad for who God made us… ?

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