Francis Chan, former pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, Calif., admitted that he struggled with pride and depression after he became a “Christian celebrity,” a status which popular Christian artists identify with.
“I saw a purity in my life early on that I felt like I was losing,” Chan said at Life Conference 2013 in St. Louis. “I just wanted to get back to the old me and run away from the public because it’s very difficult nowadays with social media. Everyone has their opinion about you and, good or bad, you can only take so much.”
Artists in Christian hip hop, those on Reach Records—the most prominent label in the subgenre—in particular, are no stranger to this phenomenon.
The hook of Tedashii’s “Dum Dum” featuring Lecrae goes, “They don’t know about us. They think we dumb,” referring to critics who ignorantly shrug the artists off. Lecrae’s “I Know” off his Grammy Award-winning album “Gravity” is written entirely about his critics.
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Derek Minor told Wade-O Radio in April that haters need to leave Lecrae alone, even though Lecrae swore to Wade-O Radio that they don’t bother him anymore.
Andy Mineo is less concerned about his critics and more worried about his fans. He wrote a whole album stressing that he isn’t a superhero and shouldn’t be exalted as such. Reach artists haven’t admitted to struggling with pride or depression like Chan, but others have—at least about the former.
Swoope of Collision Records rapped about struggling with pride in the first verse of the song “Welcome To My Life” off Dre Murray’s “Gold Rush: Maybe One Day.”
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Murray admitted to Wade-O Radio that he intentionally made an effort to avoid the same struggle by taking a Twitter hiatus earlier this year. Trip Lee declined an interview with Wade-O Radio earlier this year about his church to not “encourage any fanfare” and keep his position in it “low key.”
Whether or not artists struggle with accepting praise and criticism, the temptation exists. Chan attempts to avoid that temptation through prayer.
“I want to know when God is leading me,” said Chan.
He explained that if one prays to God for guidance and receives an answer, he or she will make a decision with confidence no matter what opposition lies ahead. If one doesn’t, that’s where doubt creeps into a person’s mind and leads to a depressed state.
“If you’re going to be a leader, we’re living in a time when every decision you make is questioned by a ton of people,” said Chan. “You see it on the internet. If there’s an article, there are 100 comments under it—everyone wants to speak their piece of mind. As a leader, it’s harder to make decisions because you know, ‘I’m going to get blasted for this,’ and once you’ve made some mistakes in life, it’s harder to be so sure of yourself. Pretty soon, you just feel paralyzed because you know whatever decision you make, you’re going to get so much flack for it.”
Chan added that if he knows that he’s following God’s will, then that difficulty subsides. He explained that scripture reveals two ways to know if one is following God’s will. Occasionally, God will say exactly what to do. Other times, one must pray for wisdom and figure out what to do through God-given judgment.