Less Personality Please, and More Jesus

Wednesday is for Prayer

The oldest surviving panel icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on panel, c 6th century.Part of living in a world where God intervenes in the affairs of humanity (what Christmas is all about) is being aware of what the Spirit of God is doing around the world. This is always a tricky business.  There is a need to be humble and tentative because, after all, we are trying to discern things that are not stated directly in Scripture. At the same time we need to be bold when we sense that the Spirit of God is moving in a particular direction.

Some Guidelines:

  1. What does the Scripture say?
  2. What do godly men and women seem to confirm?
  3. After prayer and meditation and rooting out your own ego (and anger for some), what is the confirming sense in your own spirit?

In the past week I have posted twice on a particular issue from different angles.

On December 12 I posted an article titledChurch Planter: Your Personality Isn’t Enough. In it, I tried to lay out some simple but biblical counsel on how to avoid a trend that I have seen in church planters (and other Christian leaders) of building ministry on personality rather than gospel preaching, Holy Spirit-depending, Christ-exalting faithfulness.

On December 13 the post was If You Tolerate Sin in Your Life Today, You will Tolerate More Tomorrow. That post was an earnest plea to recognize that big personality and the enlargement of influence requires diligent pursuit of spiritual passion lest temptations come for which the leader is ill-equipped, because of neglect, to handle.

Yesterday, I was doing some cleaning out of old files and ran across an article from Leadership Today (Spring 1994) and wrote on the tendency of larger churches to produce a “following the star rather than the Son culture. Frankly, I probably didn’t have to say larger churches, because the problem is endemic in our churches.

That post produced a short but very interesting comment stream.

Today I read this article from CNN on Francis Chan’s move to Asia and thought, “Francis seems to be wrestling with the exact issues that I have been wrestling with in these posts.

Thought:   Would you join me in prayer in 2011 [now 2014, and now 2022], that God would help the American church and the Church around the world to wrestle hard, soul-searchingly and effectively in prayer with the cult of personality in our churches.

“Lord Jesus, keep us from stealing any glory from you. Help us to be arrows pointing to you and not ourselves. Help us to exalt you. You said that if you were lifted up, you would draw all men to yourself. Help us to take you seriously and ourselves, not so much. Empty us, Lord, empty me of self so that there is only room for you. In your name I ask this as Christmas approaches. Amen.

4 thoughts on “Less Personality Please, and More Jesus

  1. Oh yes!! We have been offering merely a shadow of the Reality! It reminds me of what Tenney talks about in The God Chasers when he gives the analogy of asking people to be satisfied with picking crumbs of The Bread of Life out of the carpet. He said when the Bread is back in the Temple, we won’t be able to keep people away. When we felt called to help with the church plant we have been with for five years now, we really hoped it would be different than “church as we have always known it.” We hoped that it would be so full of Christ that it would change not only us, but the city, and beyond. Yes, there is fruit. Yes, there is growth. But we know there is More. We must keep praying for wisdom and discernment. Thank you for the encouragement.


  2. Is “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) too cryptic? It seems to me to sum up our problem quite nicely. We are living and preaching according to the inverse “I must increase, but He must decrease.”


    1. Not cryptic. Perfect. And yet, the problem persists. Join me in prayer for “eyes that see and ears that hear” among our leaders, pastors, church planters and congregations.


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