I have relationships with a few of the "big names" you know out there. Several are authors of international acclaim and the others are speakers and leaders in Christendom. By relationship, I mean, staying in their homes, emailing frequently, crying over texts and praying together, planning our next get-togethers.
I have watched and weathered the flagrant criticism they've encountered over the past few years. I was at a conference with one who was followed incessantly by young, starry-eyed writers who pressed the author for time, an ear, a photo, and perhaps a lead to publication?
That author friend is gracious and kind and sympathetic, but fame is not her arena and she struggles to pour herself out to the adoring fans. It takes everything she has within her and leaves her desert-dry.
Other author friends can't speak at conferences without an assistant, which maybe makes others look askance: "Who do they think they are?" , but is a necessity because of the expectations their fans have placed on them. Everyone wants a personal conversation; many are hoping the author can give them a word. The assistant can see the drain on the author and quietly pulls them away to rest and recovery.
I hear the accusations. I see them passed around on Facebook and discussed by armchair pundits.
"She speaks subtle heresy, she's a mystic, she misleads."
"He has a plan that denigrates women."
"He's power hungry."
A direct hit: "You're tickling their ears, telling people what they want to hear."
My jaw drops open. Who are the Facebook and blog commenters talking about? These aren't the hearts I know. These aren't the passionate, lovely, Jesus-adoring, gospel-hungry, beautifully flawed and in-need-of-a-Savior friends I have come to love deeply and pray for with intensity.
As I've carried the burden of yet another scathing judgment lobbed this month at friends I love, I become increasingly disgusted with this particular behavior of Christians. I'm not a big name but I've experienced the unfounded, self-righteous judgment of Christians, too, and though my personal narratives of criticism are on a smaller, less public scale, it's a tool that Satan often uses to tear down our confidence and tempt us to retreat into a safe and insulated cave that would cause our message of hope and Jesus to be snuffed out.
Do you see that? Snuffed out.
What God is using to draw others to Him, our careless and puffed-up proclamations dropped over the reputations of those God has put in the public eye are like the bucket of chemicals released from the underbelly of a fire plane and spread over the forest to put out a wildfire.
You're putting out the fire.