I have always wondered why very popular people like Whitney Houston would get into drug addiction, and the very terrible consequences that followed. Why will Maradona take cocaine and have issues with food? There was also a very popular chef on CNN that committed suicide. Why is it that very successful and popular people go into depression?
I have seen very popular people go to extremes and make terrible mistakes.
I will attempt to show how popularity starts, turns to an addiction, prisons someone, and then, is the poison that perishes the individual.
There is usually a point where passion for a particular idea or activity develops in an individual.
It can be sports, politics, ministry, music, or acting.
A lot of people practice a lot because of the desire to excel, the love for what they are doing, or just the love for God.
Some do whatever they do because of the pleasure they derive from their passions.
P3 Promise of Eternity
When it comes to ministry, it might just be as a result of the promise of a glorious future in heaven. Very many people who become an embarrassment to the church started with good motives.
Many people who have made grave mistakes started with good intentions of changing history or leaving a positive mark on their generation, but good intentions do not always suffice.
This could be from a parent, pastor, priest, or patron.
Sometimes, there is a parent, like the father of Serena and Venus Williams, who saw future Wimbledon champions in them and pushed them until they achieved his dream.
Sometimes it could be from a mentor who acts as a motivator, and gives guidance and drive to achieve excellence.
With time, there is performance stimulated by passion, push, or pleasure.
Good performance will usually lead to . . . .
With good performance, praise follows, and praise can be an intoxicating liquor.
Subsequently, when performance leads to praise, you start to pray for a platform to perform, gain more recognition, and even more praise.
The platform eventually manifests, and popularity gradually starts creeping in.
Popularity will attract patronage and payments. Ironically, what started as mere passion (with good intentions) might gradually turn to a state where all the activities and intentions are financially or materialistically motivated.
The next stage is that people will gather around you—some for personal gains, others who are praise singers, pleasure seekers, or pressure agents.
P11 Pressure to Perform
This is the beginning of the problem.
These praise singers and pleasure seekers, who congregate around you, will want you to keep your performance at a high level, or even raise it to much higher levels. This is usually for their own pleasures and a distraction tactic from their own realities.
If you are a sportsman, you will be pushed to a level of exhaustion, physically and mentally. The managers of sports personalities can be very cruel; they can even resort to giving performance-enhancing medications. For musicians and actors, drugs are taken for performance.
One problem, I have personally experienced, is that when all the crowd and people are gone, loneliness sets in. This is the beginning of the dangers of popularity. You don’t really know who loves you for your person, your product, popularity, or the pleasures and personal gains.
There is also the greed for the payments that follows performance. It becomes a vicious cycle.
P12 Performance Prison
You suddenly come to a realisation that you are in a confined space of performance. This is worse off in ministry. All the fake miracles we see in ministry, particularly among African preachers, especially in Nigeria, and the Central, Eastern, and Southern African regions, are usually efforts to keep up with performance.
There is a young man I knew, a long time ago, in one of the Eastern States of Nigeria, when he was still residing with his parents. Then, he was a very humble man. I know him as someone who loves Jesus and humanity. He was very respectful anytime I went to preach in his fellowship. He had his limitations and excesses, because of his limited education, but recently, he seems to be going overboard.
There is the pressure to perform by praise singers and pleasure seekers, which can keep one locked in a prison.
When you start hearing people answering bizarre titles, especially as a preacher/pastor, it’s one step away from the last P.
This is usually the last straw. You can see it in the acquisition mentality—acquisition of titles, luxurious items, and conspicuous consumption. They cannot be corrected; they brainwash their followers never to question any of their actions, and you dare not criticise them.
Tiger Woods said, when he committed adultery, that he felt he was above the law.
They avoid their old friends and elders who can correct them. I had a ‘friend’ who would no longer pick my calls or the calls of the elders of his denomination, when he became the head of their church. He messed up big time. Even those who were his praise singers were those who stood against him.
During this pandemic, there have been very reckless and unconstitutional decisions taken by some political leaders because they want to remain in the limelight.
The Brazilian president, Bolsonaro, was shown on Al Jazeera News, as I was writing this, shaking hands with the crowds; meanwhile, Brazil has one of the highest death rates from COVID-19 infection.
Several of the very rich Islamic nations in the Middle East prohibited public prayers during the celebrations marking the end of their fast. But some States in Northern Nigeria, in a bid to please the crowd, allowed crowded worship in the midst of rising cases of COVID-19 infection.
Many of the complaints about closure of places of worship are because we, as pastors, preachers, and religious leaders, whether you like it or not, have a trace of this demon called crowd addiction.
I have been studying the early part of Jesus’ ministry. He usually told most of those who received miracles from Him not to tell others. But people, like me, will put them on my blog or social media platforms, and ask you to share the testimony.
Jesus usually withdrew from the crowd. My generation likes to preach and preach until we collapse.
I found out that I have had more revelations, and I have become more intellectually productive, without my usually-crowded schedule. My blood pressure is like that of a young person. My temper is no longer erratic, and I have spent more time with my wife.
Crowd addiction can deprive you of the crown of life.
The dangerous part of it, is that it is a very slippery and steep decline to destruction.
God Bless You.