Ever wonder why such a high percentage of national profile media ministers crash and burn? Why those in whom millions of people put their trust, eventually fail those same people? Certainly it’s a tribute to the temptations of money, power, and fame. Those are easy answers, and certainly a significant part of the puzzle. But the real truth is, so many end in failure, because they didn’t understand the real power of the media itself.
The last generation of major TV evangelists tried to make a bargain with the media, like the classic deal with the devil. They accepted the national platform, the accompanying fame and celebrity, the money, the book deals, the jets, and the influence, but when it came to their personal lives, they wanted privacy. But they didn’t realize that when you kneel at the throne of the media, you can’t have it both ways. Early in my career I worked for a major TV evangelist that was a wonderful person. He had a huge impact on my life. But he was old school. He would never let me photograph him around his jet, or at his second home in a resort town. He didn’t want anyone to know about that because he knew it would hurt his image as a preacher of the gospel. That worked for awhile, but during his career, the media changed – as he abruptly discovered.
Others since have tried a similar path. They gladly accept the money, fame, and influence, but assume that when it comes to their eccentricities, their marriage troubles, their sex addiction, their house at the beach, their girlfriends, their private jet, or any other personal struggle, they can keep that quiet.
Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m out to get these guys. Because many of them are delightful people, and some have actually been clients. Many of them are my friends and are terrific men and women. They’re not trying to rip anyone off, and they are passionate about their calling, and the seriousness of their message. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to know and work with a great number of them, and fortunately, some understand what I’m talking about and have avoided a disaster.
However, for the rest, the only chink in their armor, is that so many don’t understand that the media is unforgiving, cruel, and relentless.
So what’s the solution? Is it just to shy away and forget about taking your message to a national audience? I don’t think so. But you do need to understand that today, there is no escaping the media’s far-reaching tentacles. Especially in a world of social media, where it’s always turned on, and the conversation happens 24/7 with millions of people worldwide.
The only real answer is transparency.
If you want to keep parts of your life private and away from the public, then don’t seek a media platform. Just stay away from the exposure, because you can’t limit exposure. But if you choose to take your message to the national stage, then live a transparent life. Live the kind of life that can bear up under media scrutiny. Because people are shooting video, recording audio, and connecting online every moment of every day, and sooner or later, your double life, your eccentricities, or your excesses will be exposed. In a Facebook and Twitter world, word travels fast, and there’s no going back.
In a digital generation, the “always on” media can destroy a reputation in seconds.
It’s not a threat. It’s the nature of the media.