Steven Furtick — Making Headlines
We live in a World of clicks, and so in order sometimes to get your eyes to not turn away from a channel, or to get you to click through on the link, have you noticed that they're having to make the headlines more and more sensational? How they're just having to say the craziest things?
And I get it because we're all so busy and there's so much vying for our attention that they can't just put the actual story on the headline, no body would look. We're just used to that, so they have to make it so crazy in how they say it, that you can't look away. And it usually works, it works for me at least.
If I see the headline, and the headline's crazy enough I've got to keep reading, I've got to keep watching. And the interesting thing about headlines, and I know this even as a preacher, is that if you don't get the right title, it's kind of different when I'm preaching to you because you're stuck, like you already committed to be here, you might not come back next week, but you're at least gonna politely sit through.
So if I give you the title, it's not very good you're not gonna (scoffing) but when I put my stuff online, I've noticed that because there's such a fight for attention, I have to think more about what to call it, because people really won't click on anything that doesn't revolve around their personal interest.
So if you put a title out there "How to Honor God" the people that you really want to reach aren't gonna read that because they're not walking around wondering "How can I honor God?" But if you said "The Real Reason You're Stressed" and then when you get into the teaching you talk about how when we give weight or honor to things that are not God, and treat them as they are God, they cannot hold the weight of our expectation, and so our hearts are heavy with stress.
And so what I did is, I didn't, yes I did. I kind of baited you with the thing that you're thinking about to get you to the thing that you need to know. And all effective communicators do it, but I would say that the news media sometimes abuses it, abuses it.
Not all the time, but sometimes, so this is like a journalistic secret, is that a lot of people don't know this, but the journalist may write an article, and hand it to an editor, and then the editor decides what headline to put over the story based on what will get the most people to go "Did he really say that?" "Did they really do that?" "Did I really eat that?" "Is that really true?" "Did the Pope really hate Mother Mary?"
You know, whatever. So, it's to stop you in your tracks, and the editor's job is to try to figure out what will stop the most people cold. And I think the Devil's job is to try to figure out, in your life, and in my life, and in the lives of these students, "What can I put in big, bold, letters, across the top of their story that will mislead them away from their ministry, and away from their purpose, and away from the real meaning of life?"
I believe that if you let him, the enemy will sit at the editor's desk of your life, and he'll take the facts of what happens to you, and the facts of what you've been through, and the facts, and what he'll do, and he's really good at it too, he'll adjust all of this in your mind by the way, you're not looking for a guy with a pitchfork, you're looking for a guy who looks an awful lot and sounds an awful lot like you.
This is how he does it, he gets inside because they're both running the same organization you understand, it's your brain, and then it's the enemy, and so the enemy if you let him, he'll take everything that happened to you and he won't necessarily tell you stuff that didn't happen, he'll arrange it in such a way to get you to click through.
And he'll hit you with such a thought, that seems so conclusive. He'll hit you with such a thought, that is so gripping, see that's what he's trying to do, that's what they're trying to do on the bottom of CNN, the bottom of FOX News, and the top of whatever paper that you want to read above the fold.
"What is the thing we can say at the top, that will keep them from reading on to find the real story?" That will cause them to click through, what can I tell 'em? Maybe I can tell them that because they were abused, they're worthless. Maybe I can tell them that because they struggle in this one subject, that they're learning disabled, yeah that's what I'll tell 'em.
I'll put a headline over their life when they're young, it'll say 'Tina has a learning disability', and so when Tina thinks of herself, she'll think of herself in terms of one limitation in one area, but I won't let her see that it's just one area, and that she's really got gifts in other areas that can shine if she can stick with it, and if she can focus on what she's good at, but I don't want her to see that. I want her to read the rest of my story instead of knowing the real story."
"Maybe I can convince them that they're an addict, and then maybe they'll think they have no control, and then maybe they'll think that they're not accountable for their actions, because it's just who they are, because that's who their dad was. Maybe then I can convince him that he'll never be a good dad, cause he never had a good dad. Maybe I can take the fact that his dad walked out when he was seven, and if I print that big enough, and say it often enough, and drop it off at his doorstep every day as a reminder, maybe then I'll."
But the Devil is a liar, see here's what I found out, here's what I found out. Here's what the Charlotte Observer taught me, here's what I learned from Huffington Post, and here's what I learned from Joseph. You don't get to control your story, but you do get to choose your headlines.
You don't get to select the script of your story, ask Joseph, he wouldn't have chosen to be thrown into a pit by his brothers when he was 17 years old. He wouldn't have chosen to be falsely accused of rape, and thrown into a prison as a reward for his excellence strategic management of Potiphar's house, yet all of these things happened, and all of these things were traumatic, but they were not defining.
Just because it happened, doesn't mean it has to make the headlines. The one who writes the story, is not the one who chooses the headlines, and you know life is going to put some stuff in your story that you wish you could change, and some stuff in your story that you didn't choose.
And yet Joseph, with the rape charge, false imprisonment, near death at the hands of his brothers, at the end of it all, as he is publishing the proclamation of what his life has been all about has the editorial authority to look at everything that he's been through, and see all of those events that could have marked him, and in many ways probably did shape him, and I'm sure pained him greatly.
But when he sat at the end of it all... and if you were writing my story, you would have would have had me as a slave, but I'm not a slave. And if you were writing my story, you would have had me as an arrogant 17 year old who didn't know any better than to keep his dreams to himself, but I've changed from that.
And if you were writing my story, and if life were writing my story, I'd be a victim, but I refuse to let what happened to me, when I was 17 be the headline of my life when I'm 30. And I refuse the let the divorce that I went through when I was 30, define me when I'm 40, and I refuse to let the parenting mistake that I made when I was 40, define me when I'm 50.
See in other words, I'm not just allowing life to write my headlines. Now, things can happen to me, but there's a big difference between what happens to me, and what I headline. I'm trying to say, and maybe I should just say it, cause I'm afraid it won't come across if I don't put it this plainly.
You are not the author, but you are the editor. You are not the author, but you are the editor. Now that's a different relationship, I write books, I just finished by fourth book. Guess what the editor does not do in the role that he has? He doesn't determine what the book is about in the same way, I don't believe God is really called us to determine what our life is about, I think He's already given us that.
I think Joseph illustrates it clearly, he said "I was put here", in fact he uses the word, he says "I was sent here to save lives." You need a dream to drive you decisions, you need a dream to drive your decisions. You need a dream to drive you toward you destiny, what you don't need at this point in your life is the details of that dream.
Joseph was 17 when he saw a vision that he didn't understand, he saw something that was beyond his maturity to comprehend, or really even handle, in that he saw himself surrounded by 11 sheaves of grain, bowing down to his sheave of grain. He was seeing a picture of how one day his brothers would come and bow down before him.
Followed up by a second dream, because when God is doing something in your life He'll reinforce it in various ways, see a little here or there, see it a little, and you do it a little bit, and you read this, and you see that, and the pastor'll say this, your friend'll say that, and your mom'll say that, God'll start speaking, and you'll start to feel something, but you won't really know the details, you'll just know that your dream is in development.
The second dream he sees some stars, and he sees the stars and the sun, and the moon bowing down to him, so this time it's not only his brothers, but his parents that are going to be dependent on him. He almost sees it in a way that's very ambitious, at the end of his life, when we met him at the beginning of this sermon where he's speaking to his brothers who hated him so much that instead of leaving him for dead, which would have actually been a kindness, they sold him, they sold him out.
Now I was reading something, and I want to go a little deeper into this, is this good preaching? Get a little more insight into how Joseph refused to let the enemy be his editor. Why in the world would you let your enemy be your editor? Why would you let your doubt, and your cynicism, and your negativity, and your past, tell you where you're going?
And so, Joseph, God this is good. Joseph is explaining to his brothers the point of view, because everybody writes from their point of view, right? I mean that's one of the things you gotta decide if you're writing a story is "What's my point of view?"
And Joseph is explaining to his brothers his point of view that allowed him to come to this place where he could say "I know that the story should be 'They Sold Joseph Out' but that's not what I'm gonna call these chapters of my life."
Says in Genesis 45:4 "Then Joseph said to his brothers 'Come close to me'", now I would have called 'em close so I could get my hands around their neck after what they had done to me, but he understands that he is only responsible for his response.
You are not responsible for all of the events that occur, only your response to those events. Your parents divorce was not your fault, the Devil is a liar. If he's been telling you that, kick him off the editor's desk, and tell him "I refuse to see it that way, that's the wrong lens, that can't be true, that is not God."
But he said "I am your brother Joseph, the one', watch this, "You sold into Egypt." You got it? "You sold", and that's the headline. Joseph's brothers sell him as a slave, that's the headline, that's the click bait. That's how must of us in the room would have written it, by the way, from Joseph's point of view. "You sold me", he says it, it happened.
"You did it, it happened. You sold me into Egypt. Now, don't be distressed, and don't be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me", now, we've got two possible headlines here that we can choose from.
Remember that Bible that your parents used to have, and it was some inductive methods study Bible? I went to seminary, I don't even know what that means, but I remember about... big, old, thick Bible. The Bible was like that, and the Bible was big print, I think that's why your parents had it, but can y'all hear me okay?
And so this big, thick, Bible, and it was cool because it had all the same chapters in the Bible, but you know how like in this Bible before each chapter it has a heading that tells you what that chapter is about? This Bible was cool because it had a blank space where normally the heading would be, and the idea of it was, cause it had big ole margins where you could write notes in the margins. But my favorite part was that you got to choose your own heading.