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Celebrity Leadership

Mark Cook is the program coordinator for the Institute for Global Engagement, a partnership between Denison Forum and Dallas Baptist University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Dallas Baptist University, and completed his Masters of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School and Truett Seminary. His ministry background is college ministry, and he has served both on a church staff as well as within campus ministries.

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Disclaimer: With the Oscars and Grammys in our recent memory, and with our increasing fascination in America with all things celebrity, I thought I would write a farcical letter of advice to a young Christian aspiring to be a celebrity leader a la C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.

So you want to be a celebrity? That is wonderful! What a time to aspire to such greatness. With the masses increasingly addicted to their small screens, it’s easier than ever before to get their attention. You can imagine how much harder it was when there was only television! You have come to the right place for advice. In all my accumulated years of helping celebrities, I’ve developed the following three pieces of advice. I hope you will follow them diligently.

Rule #1 Always look out for your personal image.

I know you are a Christian and that you want to use your platform to “give God glory.” Great! Just remember that God wants you to get some glory too. Anything is possible if you just have the faith to believe it! So dream big, and don’t let obstacles get in your way. When Jesus said to “take up your cross,” he wasn’t talking literally. He was talking about all the various people that will try to bring you down along the way. He doesn’t want you to suffer; he wants you to succeed.

This means that you’ve got to start thinking more about yourself. Since you want to be a celebrity leader, you’ll need to be marketable, and that means that you’ve got to have a certain persona. Think about what kind of image you want to project. You have lots of options. You can be the edgy, push-the-boundaries leader. Or you may want to be the positive, optimistic leader. I especially think that’s the way to go, because people always want to feel better about themselves, and if you can offer them a smile and a little reassurance, they’ll almost instantly want to trust you. So choose now what you want to be known for, and stick ruthlessly to it!

Rule #2 Always stay relevant.

While I said earlier that it’s much easier to become famous today than ever before, keeping that fame is the new challenge. You are competing with thousands of other people who want the same attention, so learn this rule quickly. Do whatever it takes to stay relevant and hold their attention.

You’ll want to master the ability to create drama, because drama keeps people’s attention. It’s what sells, and if you want to sell yourself, you’ve got to learn how to create and manipulate drama. People don’t want to tackle their own problems; they want you to tackle the problems for them. So always focus their attention on how you’ve overcome so many obstacles and difficulties. Make them feel like they can overcome their own challenges if they’ll just be more like you. This is why the image you project is so important. You’ve got to keep them focused on you. You want to create such a powerful persona that when they face a new difficulty they’ll automatically crave your advice.

Rule #3 Take care of yourself!

I’m so glad that we’re beginning to see the term “self-care” take root in popular leadership books. (By the way, I can help you write a wonderful best-selling book and even get you a TED talk slot here in the near future.) It’s simply exhausting being famous. Since you’ve constantly got to maintain your image and your personal image, you can pretty much forget about having many close friends. Surround yourself with people that will say “yes” to you, not people that will challenge you. You don’t need to fight that negative energy.

Since God wants you to succeed, make sure that you take plenty of time for yourself. Sowing into yourself will reap great success down the line. I would recommend starting every morning with a time of centering, where you think about all the success you will have that day and all the powerful blessings that God wants to bring your way.

These are just the three most important rules. There are so many more. If you’ll learn to apply these I think you’ll be off to a great start. Best of luck to you!