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How to Avoid Becoming a Church Sex Symbol

The other day, I was watching The Today Show. They were interviewing one of my favorite actors—Robert Redford. They were giving him praise for all of his accomplishments and talents. He was clearly not comfortable with it.

He said he is honestly embarrassed about the recognition. They asked him if it bothered him that he had never received an Oscar for best actor, and he quickly assured them that awards didn’t matter to him. He truly is passionate about the art of acting and movie making.

Then they asked him about his early days. When he was younger, he was one of the biggest sex symbols in Hollywood. He said he was nervous about what life would be like if he played into that.

Then he said something that was amazing.

He said he put three signs up about the word “object.” These were signs to keep in front of himself as a caution. I immediately took out my iPhone and typed them into Evernote.

Here’s what the signs said:

Sign #1. You are being treated like an object.

Sign #2. You will start to behave like an object.

Sign #3. You will become an object.

As a church leader, I couldn’t help but hear the sermon that Robert Redford had no idea he was preaching to me. The title of the sermon was “Church Sex Symbols.”

The definition of sexy is “interesting, exciting or trendy.”

There’s a lot of interesting, exciting and trendy things going on in churchworld these days. If we are to be completely honest, there are a lot of sex symbols leading the current culture of church. They’re influencing the way Christians live their lives, the way church leaders do church and the way the unchurched see the church.

Now, this isn’t a rant about how bad and self-indulgent some leaders can be. This isn’t a post for me to call out the latest megachurch pastor scandal. This is much more than that.

This is a call to church leaders, including myself, to be careful and cautious with the platform that God has given us. This platform is a sacred and important responsibility to, ultimately, equip and disciple the church. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.

Being a church leader is amazing. Sure, it’s got bad days, but the good days make it all worthwhile. The privilege of leading and influencing others is a humbling experience, unless the position is abused … and, unfortunately, it has been and people have been damaged because of that.

God has not called church leaders to be sex symbols. He’s called us to be shepherds. He’s called us to lead a generation to worship and discipleship.

God is to be the object of our church’s affection, not us. Just like Redford, we need to keep some warning signs up.

So, here’s a few ways to avoid being a church sex sybmol:

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Gary is the Worship Arts Director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, Ohio. He is also a blogger and a songwriter with a passion to serve the church. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children and have been married since 1999. You can follow him on Twitter & Instagram @garydurbin or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garydurbin.