Jeff Bethke has a long blog post reflecting on his viral video, that in one month took him from being almost completely unknown to being viewed 19 million times on YouTube, interviewed by Charlie Rose, critiqued by David Brooks in the NYT, featured on Nightline, etc.
Here are a couple of excerpts.
On artists and local-church accountability:
Too many times artists play the “lone ranger” by submitting to no one except for themselves. I hope the people reading this and writing about me understand that with me this is not the case. I am fully submitted and under the leadership of elders at my local church, who I have given full authority in my life to pull the plug on certain poems, lines, and actions. Furthermore I have made a commitment from here on out to submit my lyrics for future poems to my church elders. On top of that I also have older godly men and women outside of my local church who do the same thing but maybe come from a different theological stream. I have spent countless hours these last couple weeks meeting, praying, and gleaning from these leaders in my life. I’ve asked them questions such as “do you think I was wrong?” or “where can I grow?” So I hope whoever reads this understands and trusts the leaders God has put in my life to do their scriptural mandate of protecting and shepherding over my heart because they will give an account (Hebrews 13:17-18).
About the pain of critique and slander:
About the actual critique though, I’ll be honest, there were times after it came out that I just started to crumble. The pain of critiques was too painful. . . . [T]he last couple weeks have been some of the most difficult in my life. Have they been rewarding? Sure. Have they been exciting? Sure. Have I seen God pour out His grace? Definitely! But the tone, words, and down right vitriol from fellow brothers and sisters in the faith have crushed me. I’m a 22 year old dude who has only been out of college 6 months, and who has only been walking with Jesus for a few years. I am beyond thankful to the older godly men who chose to pick up the phone and find ways to contact me privately, before discussing me publicly. I personally had to stop reading and trying to follow the blogs because Jesus showed me pretty quickly it wasn’t healthy for my heart (whether praise or critique). The ones I did come across stung. Some hardly even dealt with my content, but wrote more about my character, my salvation (or lack thereof), my looks, my poetry, etc. Part of me was extremely hurt, while part of me started to really wonder how blog posts fit into Jesus words in Matthew 12:36. Today, we understand that God will hold us accountable for what we speak, but we neglect that judgment a lot of times when behind a computer screen in a room by ourselves. Part of me trembles when I think about the day I stand before the King of Kings and He asks me to give an account for every careless word I’ve ever spoke, facebooked, or tweeted.
And his conclusion:
Lastly, I am thankful for grace. I am thankful that the Cross of Jesus met me where I am. I’m thankful that I don’t have to perform for Him, but rather He has performed for me. That’s the grace that drew me in the first place, and its that grace I cling to daily. How could I not after all He has done for me? He is worthy of all my worship. He is worthy of all glory. I pray to God that through all of this I would grow and pursue Him more deeply, cherish Him more fervently, and love Him more fiercely. This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and my hope is to steward it well, remaining faithful, and pointing to Him!