What's happening to Britney Spears has me thinking about how we treat the stars in our own communities. I think Britney is more of a victim of our culture than the cause of her own demise. I've seen this over and over again in my own life and in the lives of others in churches. This is roughly what happens:
- She shows that she's gifted.
- She is invited to take responsibility as an opportunity to exercise or share this gift.
- She, usually being young in years or in the faith, gladly takes it on because she can use her gift and there's some gratification in her gift being recognized.
- She is rewarded with praise, admiration, adoration, recognition, fame and sometimes money.
- With rewards and responsibility comes more responsibility, so this person is given more to do or the level of responsibility is increased. They become, necessarily, committed with verbal, written or unspoken expectations or contracts.
- Because this person was too young or immature to recognize her own boundaries or endurance and because she was unable or unwilling to say "No!", they start to show signs of wear and tear.
- In the industry, this is met with more praise and the ethic of hard work paying off is preached, as well as the old idea that this is the cost of responsibility. Our curiosity into her humanness and vulnerability elevates her even further in our own eyes. In the church, this wear and tear is met with more prayer, encouragement, and servant-theology, service and sacrifice is preached even harder.
- Over time she begins to crack. This is evidenced by increased absences, embarrassing mistakes, illness, sloppiness, outspokenness and surprising behavior.
- This is met with either pity or outright condemnation. Correction is attempted. But we still expect her to produce and perform better than she ever has before.
- Finally, she crashes and burns. She totally loses it.
- The general reaction is scorn and blame. She is perceived and treated as though she is the scum of the earth because it is her own fault. She asked for it!
I see this with Britney. I see this is the church. All the time. These people are seen as failures, burn-outs, has-beens, dead wood... whatever. And it makes me sick because we are the ones who created them. I can't see us stopping it either because we love to be entertained and the show must go on.