After my tongue-in-cheek post yesterday, I wanted to talk more seriously about my opinion on the whole “Personality” issue of authors in CBA.
I’ve heard a lot of talk against the whole personality thing. How we shouldn’t elevate people to stardom, how that gets us off track, isn’t Christian, etc. Some of you may feel that way, and I’d really like to hear your opinions in the comments. As for me? I disagree.
Yeah, yeah, I make fun of it. How can I resist? It’s the fact that the word “Personality” is actually used. I think many of us tend to cringe at the word, yet ICRS uses it with such blithe flagrancy. Well, at least they’re honest. Might as well call it what it is. But really, all it means is that the author is a recognizable name—like a TV personality. Is that so bad?
Okay, still sounds like a target for teasing to me, but I can live with the term.
So—what does this issue mean to use as Christians? Look, publishing’s a business. We have to remember that ICRS, with all its glitz and in-your-face banners, etc. is for the bookseller. It’s their convention. And what authors are booksellers going to be most interested in? The ones whose books move off their shelves. The ones who make them money. After all, Christian bookselling is a rough business these days, and every dollar counts.
Enter the publishers at the show, who want to attract said booksellers to their booths. What’s the best way to attract them? By putting up banners of a brand new, unknown author? Of course not. By publicizing the names the booksellers best recognize. By throwing a party where those “Personalities” can meet the booksellers. Once the booksellers are in the booth, or at the party, the publishing staff can perhaps talk to them about other, newer authors whom they should be watching.
When I’m at ICRS and see the big banners and names of certain authors splashed everywhere—I don’t think, “bad, bad.” I rejoice for those folks. God has granted them a large audience for their work. A large audience, and all the publicity that goes with it, isn’t immoral or unchristian. In fact, I say it can be very Christian. Think of the readers these authors can reach.
Now, with that kind of success comes great responsibility. And therein lies the rub. A “personality” author can become too focused on stardom and start to push God aside. But so can a completely unknown author. Whether you have the stardom or not, you can be far too occupied with it. Bigheaded if you have it, jealous if you don’t. So it’s not the stardom in itself. It’s how it’s handled.
From the publication of my first Christian book, I have prayed this prayer: “God, don’t let me be more successful than I can handle.” (Meaning spiritually.) God’s given me a certain amount of success, but not huge stardom. And guess what. That prayer has proved as dangerous as I expected it would be. As my success grows, God has jolly well seen that my ego’s been pushed down a peg or two. And no doubt I have a lot more pegs to go. I’ve made some very humbling mistakes—some quite public. It’s no fun to be humbled. But I’ll tell you, God is merciful. Humbling is a good thing, a God thing. I pray I will always embrace it.
So I can rejoice for the “Personality” authors. I can be happy for them and content with myself at the same time. Meanwhile, I continue working hard and marketing myself hard, trying to build my own success. But the results are in God’s hands, and I’ll accept whatever He chooses to give me. If I’m a “Personality” too someday, that’s cool. I’ll just pray all the harder to keep my focus on God.
I’ll also do some shopping for a mighty fine outfit for the party.
And I’ll forever make fun of the P word.