There are so many awards in the the area of the arts – Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, CMA Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Tony Awards, etc, etc, etc. These awards are very coveted and give the winners prestige, plaudits, and fame. And, sadly, the church has adopted the practice of rewarding its artists.
Dove Awards are given each year to Christian musicians in categories such as Song of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Group of the Year, Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the year, New Artist of the Year, Worship Song of the Year, and Praise & Worship Album of the Year (and many more). Also, these recording artists tape music videos of their popular songs, which are videos of them lip syncing their song with creative camera shots of them in while they “sing”. In the ones I have seen, the focus is always on themselves.
Another award in the Christian arts arena is given by the Evangelical Christian Book Association (ECBA) to Christian authors for books written in categories like Bibles, Bible Reference Works, Bible Study, Ministry Resources, Biography & Memoir, Christian Living, Faith & Culture, Devotion & Gift, Children, Young People’s Literature, and New Author. And, sadly, many books that are written by big name authors are really not written by them at all. They have “ghost writers” who actually write the books (using the authors main ideas), with the author putting his or her name on the cover as the writer of the book. I’m sorry, but this is just dishonest, even if they put the “ghost writer’s” name in much smaller print under their name (which is in very large print).
When these musicians and writers are given their awards on the big night, they thank God and say all praise goes to Him, but then they grab their awards and joyously receive all the adulation that comes with winning. The winners of these awards will tout their achievement, and make sure that everyone knows that they are a “Dove Award” winner or an “ECBA (or “Gold Medallion”) Award” winner when they come out with a new album or book. Additionally, when they appear on a Christian radio talk show or TV show, they are introduced with accolades about how many Dove Awards or ECBA Awards they have won. The more the better.
I don’t want to sound like a killjoy and a stick-in-the-mud, and I know that many don’t agree with me, but I think this is just wrong.
Awards for worship songs? Are we really competing with each other for who writes or sings the best worship music? Do we really compete with each other for who sings the best, or which band or soloist gives the best performance on stage? Are spiritual gifts given so we can compete with each other on whose is better? Is worship a competition?
And book awards for Bibles? Correct me if I’m wrong, but God is the author of the Bible. All the notes at the bottom of the pages are just extras. And regarding the other categories, do we really compete with each other to see who writes the best about God or the Christian life? Is the measure of a book determined by how many copies it sells and how popular it is with people?
All spiritual gifts are given by God and are given for one purpose – to bring Him glory. We should use them with humility, knowing that they are not ours to use for recognition, applause, or self gain. We don’t use them to compete with others who have been given the same spiritual gift for an award and a bigger recording/publishing contract. If anything, the very fact that God would give us certain gifts and use us at all should bring us to our knees before Him in humility and awe. It should compel us to recognize that we need Him in using these gifts, and that these gifts are useless when we exercise them in our own power for our own recognition.
I would love to see the recipient of one of these awards leave the trophy on the podium and never mention it again. And when one of these individuals is a guest on a radio or television show or at a conference, I would love for them to be introduced simply as a bond slave of Jesus, not as someone who has won “x” amount of Dove Awards with “x” amount of gold or platinum albums, or the winner of “x” amount of Christian Book Awards with “x” amount of best sellers.
Don’t get me wrong, we all need encouragement as we serve our awesome God, and it gives us joy when we know that what we do is making a difference for the kingdom of God. But when we go out of our way to congratulate ourselves, to reward ourselves, and use these awards to promote ourselves, we have let pride take over and have actually robbed God of the glory that is due Him alone. We have put ourselves in the spotlight instead of Him, no matter how “Christianese” the acceptance speech is in saying that all glory goes to God, while the winners clutch their trophy and basks in their victory. Church, we have congratulated ourselves to death.
Serving God by using the spiritual gifts He has given us is both humbling and joyous. Humbling in the fact that none of us is worthy or capable of serving Him in our own strength, and joyous in the fact that serving Him in His power and strength for His glory makes Him smile and pleases Him.
Knowing that He is pleased and glorified is our reward. And no trophy or applause can ever rival that.