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Jesus, Justin Bieber and Bubba Watson

To be honest, my wife and I were updating that last night and talking about the last five years. Somebody recently asked me, “Where do you think you’ll be in five years from now?” and I laughed because five years ago, I could never have imagined the opportunities and the blessings that our current ministry would have. Bubba Watson is one of my best friends in the whole world. Our friendship has developed pretty fast. We’ve known each other less than three years, but he encourages me, and I hope that I encourage him. I’m blessed to be his pastor, so to speak, and also one of his dearest friends.

I think the local church is the greatest training ground in the whole world for helping people. I grew up with a real perspective on the value of each and every individual — no matter their income level, no matter their renown, no matter who they are. When I grew up, my mom and dad were very much that way. 

In my experience, the celebrities that I have voice to or that I love and am walking through life with are some of the most isolated and sometimes alone people in the world.  I’m not a philosopher; I’m not entirely sure, but what they’re really, really groping for and desperate for is genuine relationship, genuine friendship, someone who cares about them, not about what they can do for somebody. I have to attribute any influence that I’ve been given in some well-known figures’ lives to the grace of God, but secondly, I think, just growing up in the local church and recognizing that each individual is of infinite value to God.

Maybe that’s helped me in my life just enjoy being around people who are a little bit more well-known and just treat them — they’re different in terms of the pressure and the expectations and the eyeballs that are on them — exactly the same as everybody else when it comes to needs, emotions, challenges, difficulties.  Money and fame doesn’t give you much more in life except maybe more of what you really are, and sometimes that can be really challenging and daunting. I think I’ve learned more from Bieber, Bubba and others than they’ve learned from me. I’ve been able to watch their journey.  I’ve known Justin now for three and half or four years so I’ve seen him grow personally but also seen his influence grow. I’ve learned a lot.

 Has Bubba let you try on the Green Jacket yet?

(Laughing) I’ve held it and touched it, but I’ll be honest, I did not even ask to put it on.  It’s just one of those things. I don’t even think it’s OK. What would Augusta think? 

You mentioned treating people who are well-known the same as anyone else. I have to ask, when Justin Bieber lands in the news for something, like the recent allegation of smoking pot, do you engage him as a pastor to find out if it’s true or let it go?