I have never been one for celebrity gossip. I sort of “keep up” with it by looking over the racks as I check out of the grocery store. Truthfully, if I wasn’t in youth ministry or the parent of teens I don’t know if I would care.

In the last year it has appeared that Justin Bieber has been a train wreck. He had some crazy antics with a monkey in public. A friend of mine told me he had been “spotted in a church, breaking down as He rededicated his life to the Lord.” I never followed up on the truthfulness of the story and thought briefly, “I hope it’s true.” Then all of a sudden the announcement was made that he was “retiring” at 19, egging his neighbors house, and of course, his smiling mug shot made the news this past Thursday. Truthfully, it made me sad.

Justin Bieber

My husband and I got into a discussion today about whether or not it’s fair to ask children and teens to bear the weight of the spotlight. We are a country fascinated with voyeurism. Reality television, entertainment news, social media and the Internet give us the illusion we know people we will never actually meet. Young teens are put out in the public eye and expected to be able to handle it. I am almost middle-aged and don’t know if I could.

Then earlier today a friend of mine posted this article from NPR:

“We are well aware that news outlets, websites and social media seem to be obsessed with the news that pop star Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami Beach early Thursday morning.

According to the Miami Herald, he’s been charged with “DUI, resisting arrest and drag-racing.” The Herald adds that:

“When stopped by police in his yellow Lamborghini, Bieber barraged officers with a string of F-bombs, babbled incoherently, refused to get out of his car and, when he finally stepped out, declined to take his hands out of his pockets, according to the police report.”

We’re not going to join in the piling on or joking about the 19-year-old Bieber’s increasingly notorious behavior.

Instead, we suggest you watch this video from 2007 when The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson talked about why he was not going to joke about another young pop star’s much-publicized problems. Ferguson, an alcoholic, spoke from the heart about how he was feeling “uncomfortable about making fun of these people” — troubled stars such as Britney Spears.

“We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable people,” Ferguson said. As he pointed out, celebrity Anna Nicole Smith died of a drug overdose. So did pop superstar Michael Jackson. Both had been the objects of endless fascination and jokes.

They need help, not ridicule, said Ferguson.”

 (Read the rest of the story and see the Craig Ferguson video HERE

In the 12-minute video, Craig Ferguson tells his story of alcoholism and admits at his lowest point he contemplated suicide. It’s so easy to point fingers or even shake our heads at the likes of the Miley Cyrus’ and Justin Bieber’s of the world. It’s a given that we shouldn’t poke fun at them, or is it?

Should we feel sorry for them?

Should we be praying?

Should we care at all?

When it comes to the teens in our lives. Do we use these lives as examples of choices NOT to make?

What do you think?



Once upon a time, this week didn’t exist.

duck-dynasty-okla-prayerBefore the Duck Dynasty sound-bytes, there was dialogue… testimony… witnessing.

Maybe some of that can continue. (By the way, have you read some other perspective beyond your own? Here’s a great post by Shawn Harrison).

I’d love to offer two videos with some insightful commentary given recent thoughts.

Flashback #1: “What the (bleep)?”

Some have argued this week that a company gets to do what a company wants. So… what has A&E as a company attempted to do – not just this week, but in the past? Here is one that is intriguing, given that it was filmed in the spring that seems to reveal a piece of that.


Flashback #2: “Before the money…”

Check out this great interview with Jase and Missy regarding life before fame.


Maybe these videos mean nothing, or maybe they give context to everything.

I suppose that’s up to you…

and really…

that’s sort of a point in itself.

joejonasJoe Jonas recently opened up about his experience as a “Disney” kid.

Maybe there’s nothing surprising here… but read on.

“Being a part of a company like [Disney] comes with certain expectations. Not overtly, but there was a subtle vibe. We were working with Disney in 2007 when the Vanessa Hudgens nude-photo scandal happened. We heard that she had to be in the Disney offices for a whole day because they were trying to figure out how to keep her on lockdown. We’d hear execs talking about it, and they would tell us that they were so proud of us for not making the same mistakes, which made us feel like we couldn’t ever mess up. We didn’t want to disappoint anyone—our parents, our fans, our employers—so we put incredible pressure on ourselves, the kind of pressure that no teenager should be under. We were just kids. That’s the reality. We were frightened little kids. So you got all this responsibility that’s foisted upon you and you’re expected to be perfect. … [But] being a part of the Disney thing for so long will make you not want to be this perfect little puppet forever. Eventually, I hit a limit and thought, Screw all this, I’m just going to show people who I am. I think that happened to a lot of us. Disney kids are spunky in some way, and I think that’s why Disney hires them. ‘Look, he jumped up on the table!’ Five, six, 10 years later, they’re like, “Oh! What do we do?” Come on, guys. You did this to yourselves. The first time I smoked weed was with Demi [Lovato] and Miley [Cyrus]. I must have been 17 or 18. They kept saying, ‘Try it! Try it!’ so I gave it a shot, and it was all right. … I was caught drinking when I was 16 or 17, and I thought the world was going to collapse.”
—24-year-old Joe Jonas, in an extensive interview published at vulture.com about his and his brothers’ rise to fame as the Jonas Brothers [vulture.com, 12/1/13]

Jonas also added that much of this began because he was “used to growing up in public. I was a pastor’s kid, so eyes were always on me, even then. I sat in the first pew of the church, and I had to wear a suit every Sunday, because my parents wanted me to be this role model that I didn’t always want to be.”

So… let’s sidestep the time we can spend deconstructing the Disney machine here. (In fact, it may be worth noting that not every Disney star feels the same way he does/did). I will add that you should Jonas’ other personal reflections about church, religion, purity rings and more. It’s an eye opener, especially if you plan on promoting someone as an “example” to your students to look up to.

Let’s also pause chatter on how senior pastors aren’t parenting their kids like they should, “blah blah blah.”

Instead, I’d offer you a question as a youth worker…

What are the high-end expectations that we might unknowingly put on youth group kids that cause them to shine today but explode later?

And… if you have the courage and raw honesty to answer this..

What are the high-end expectations that YOU might unknowingly put on youth group kids that cause them to shine today but explode later?

I’ll answer, too.

How about you get the conversation started?

Recently I have been reminded about a painful truth about ministry life and the pastor sub-culture that each of us is a part of whether we like it or not. Sitting having a coffee with a student last week I was reminded of this:

What doesn’t matter to students:

1-Who follows / mentions us on Twitter

2-Where we spoke on the weekend

3-How many people read our blogs

What does matter to them:

1-That we love Jesus and passionately model that relationship to them.

2-That we sincerely care about their life and their story.

3- That we encourage them and pray for them often.

In the midst of opportunities and distractions, its so easy to forget that the students that we lead don’t care about all the other stuff. They just need us to Pastor and lead them, to accept them and encourage them, be there when we say we will and passionately shepherd them. Our integrity to speak about leadership is rooted in us being healthy, rooted leaders at the local Church level working in the trenches.

-Geoff (Twitter)