When I was a teenager, I went with my friend to see Rick Springfield at a local venue. Of course, the place was crawling with his groupies. I was a bit of a Springfield groupie for a while, but it was not long lived. He was kind of a one-hit wonder, and I didn't see what the fuss was about.
I have written here about something that shaped my attitude toward celebrities, Christian and non-Christian alike. For Christians, the questionable lifestyles of Hollywood actors may make it easier to avoid becoming a groupie. With well-known Christians, however, the temptation may be greater because we have shared values, and technology makes it so easy to hang on their every word.
I do not want to be a groupie. I have seen what happens in Christian circles when women are groupies: we become unreasonable. Women who could be considered Beth Moore groupies love her so much that they do not tolerate any critique, and if you offer some, you're mean and uncharitable. With all of these talented people who are so easily accessible, how can I avoid being a groupie? Here are some ways I try to approach the matter.
I try to read widely. There are a lot of good writers out there, and being limited in my reading is a road to being narrow in my thinking.
I read older and dead authors. Some of the books which are popular today will be forgotten in ten years. I want to read what is enduring.
I respect and pray for my pastor. With all of the pastors out there, it can be tempting to give more heed to those men than to the one God has put in our midst. I need to remember that my pastor is my pastor because God put him there. I need to pray for him as much (if not more) as I do the famous pastor.
I try to read more books than blogs. Blogs are great, and I love them, but I also need to read something that has a well-developed, thorough, and well-studied message. Blogs also tend to ride on the wave of what everyone is talking about. Sometimes, what everyone is talking about is not worth nearly as much attention as it is getting.
I remind myself of the old addage, "we all put our pants on one leg at a time." These popular individuals are human. Some of them leave the lid off the toothpaste, snap at people in a heated moment, and leave their dirty laundry on the floor. We only see one side of them. Recent days have certainly shown us that no one is immune to error, and no one is above critique. Focus on the work of the person, not his personality.
Finally, I try to build relationships with people in my local church. Christian circles on the internet are not the church, and we live in the real world. What is the point of reading and taking advice from Christian writers if we aren't going to live it out in the flesh?
I am grateful for good writers, but I am wary of celebrity. In the long run, it isn't helpful to exalt Christian leaders or put them on a pedestal. Usually, the only way off a pedestal is down.