In my last post I shared with you about our recent experience while visiting the Lone Star State. It was our honor to visit the brand new $1.1 BILLION dollar baby of Cowboys owner – Jerry Jones. The three themes that kept ringing in my head like a bell from Baltimore were: “Succcess, Simplicity & Salvation.”
Last post, I talked at length about “Success” and the need for “Salvation.” Today, I would like to touch briefly on the subject of “SIMPLICITY.” You have heard it said: “KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.” Well, to honor that phrase and if I may quote what Larry King said to his eighth wife and Elizabeth Taylor said to her seventh husband: “I LOVE YOU but I won’t keep you long!” - LOL
During the country concert last weekend at COWBOYS STADIUM, Ruth and I, were really impressed with living legend George Strait. In 1995, I went with my parents to see George – “IN CONCERT,” in Virginia and now a decade and a half later he now is considered “The King of Country.” To his credit, he has amassed 57 NUMBER ONE HITS! Loved by multiplied millions and he actually ministered to me when he walked out on stage at the massive 100,000 venue in down-town Dallas recently to perform.
George Strait walked out wearing his trademark Wrangler blue jeans, a white, ironed dress shirt, Cowboy boots, white Cowboy hat ( I always wanted to wear the white hat), belt buckle and his guitar. What I have learned over the years that those who have it in most cases don’t “flaunt it” and those that don’t do. I admit, even I have failed in this regard. We are all a work in progress. It has been my observation that not only are the “Greats Gracious” but when one has been to the mountain, climbed the corporate ladder, paid your dues, have a few successes under your “country belt” it is apparent that one feels very comfortable in their “own skin.” I also noticed that less is more. When George waltzed out on stage, gave a grin as wide as Texas and his pearly white teeth danced on the jumbo tron I was almost sure that the place was going to erupt. He humbly bowed, the crowd roared and he reminded me and many others that Texas night that we don’t have to be flashy, or even first but be grateful, gracious and genuine.
Ironically, George Strait entered Country Music some three decades wearing a white dress shirt, Wrangler jeans, Cowboy hat and boots, adorned with a belt buckle and his guitar. Nothing more – nothing less. In leadership, politics, business and even ministry, we can easily fall into the trap of being more “show” than substance. We can (intentionally or not) offer hype more than hope. Worse, promote self more than the Savior. Too often in preaching circles, I have seen pastors try to “impress” their flock more than INVEST in them. Secondly, regardless out of insecurity or accidentally – many ministers have tried in vain to show the crowd (congregation) how much they know but failed to reveal how much they care.
Friends, pertaining to the Gospel – “GOOD NEWS” it is indeed a simple message of Salvation. After preaching now for over two decades, I learned long ago that we need to “keep the cookie jar” low enough where even the “little hands” can grasp it and enjoy. Preaching too deep is like speaking in tongues without an interpreter. You are going through the motions but its like riding a bicycle without a chain (only with the congregation in tow). The answer here is not are you following me but is the congregation following you? Pastors constantly talk about “exegesis” but if you fail at execution and helping folks apply it to their daily lives we are failing in the pulpit. We must always keep the “Main thing – the main thing. Those in attendance really don’t long for titles but a living testimony of God’s grace, love and fellowship.
In closing, years ago I heard a wonderful story told by Dr. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral in California when Evangelist Billy Graham came to speak at his church. Dr Schuller noted: “The car carrying Billy pulled up and I met him on the curb of our church.” Dr Schuller went on to say: “I must admit, I was quite surprised and impressed. Dr Graham came alone with no security detail, press agents, special assistants, and no extra personnel. What impressed me most was the fact that it was just Billy Graham and his Bible.”
That day, Dr Graham got up to preach wearing a nice, white dress shirt, navy blue suit and with Bible in hand and when he smiled the crowd roared and he humbly but boldly preached the Word of God.” Today, all these years later and despite the accolades, accomplishments and applause from folks around the world; it is still just George Strait and his guitar and Billy Graham in his Bible. May we all (regardless of what our vocation in life) be mindful that “success” is found in service to the King but also staying SIMPLE, true and loving what you do and why you do it. Trust me, the crowds will not only love you for it but Christ all the more.
God bless you and go with God.