American Idol – Why I love It and What It Teaches Me

I love to watch American Idol. There, I said it. And I’ve published it so I am officially out of the closet. But my reasons for loving it may surprise you.

I love it for the entertainment value – I think it is a very well produced show. And this year, oh my goodness, they have an incredibly amazing stage that is worth the watch in and of itself. I get very emotionally involved with the performers – especially at this time of the year with only about 6 weeks left. I feel like I’ve gotten to know the contestants. And when one of them gets booted off the show I feel like I’ve lost a friend. This will surprise you if you know me at all – I cry at the end of every show. Not like weep, but I get real teary and can’t talk for a few minutes because someone just lost a part of their dream.

Like this week for instance. Colton Dixon got the boot. I liked Colton. He was not my personal favorite but I really liked him. And he is a strong believer. For his goodbye encore he got down on his knees and sang a worship song and then later in an interview talked about wanting to honor God with his music. He was very humble when he heard he was going home and apologized to his fans for his performance on Wednesday night. He was referring to the Lady Gaga song “Bad Romance” that he did which he admitted was VERY out of character for him. I was thinking the same thing as he was performing it. So I was sorry to see him leave – and I cried a bit.

If you watch the show then these names will be familiar to you: Jessica, Philip, and Joshua. All 3 of them are incredibly gifted. The other 3 are also really really good, but not in the same way as these 3 – for me at least. I realize we will perhaps differ on this as we all have our own reasons for liking someone. But I can’t wait each week for the 3 of them to sing. As J-Lo often says, they give me goosies.

But I digress. There is another reason why I love Idol. I love it because it teaches me things about being a better preacher, teacher, and communicator. 3 things in fact that I am reminded of each week by the judges.( A quick word about the judges from my perspective. I think Randy and Jennifer do a great job of giving excellent feedback to the singers and helping them to become better. Steven Tyler is useless – he opens his mouth every week but never says anything. Just my thoughts – don’t be a hater)

The judges are constantly telling the contestants these 3 things:

1) Pick the right song – for me, translated, this means that the message you convey is very important. As a communicator I need to make sure that I do a great job of teaching the Bible. Not teaching what I think or what others think but what God thinks. It is God’s Word that is eternal and it is God’s Word that changes lives so I need to teach God’s Word. I need to stay true to Scripture – God’s Word is always the “right song.”

2) Know who you are as an artist – At this point in the competition the judges expect the idols to have this figured out. For me as a communicator, I need to be true to who I am. I am not a Billy Graham or a David Platt or a John Piper. I know need to know who I am and let my personality be a vehicle through which God’s Word is conveyed. I cannot try to be somebody that I am not as it will come across as ingenuous.

3) Connect emotionally with the audience – I hear this every week on Idol. And I admit, the songs that make me go WOW are the ones that not only are sung well but are sung with passion and conviction and feeling – all of which you can see written all over their faces. As a preacher/teacher I need to feel what I teach. Which is hard for me because a) I am a guy and b) I have learned not to express my emotions over the years. But I also recognize that the messages that I best remember are the ones that I felt as they were preached – not just heard as they were preached.

So there you have it. That’s why I love American Idol and what it has taught me about preaching. The next time that I preach in church will be at about the end of the Idol season. I will probably be so teary over my favorite losing (or winning) that I will be an emotional mess. But hopefully, any emotion that I convey in the message will be because I feel passionately what I am preaching and can deliver God’s Word in a way that gives Spirit inspired goosies that result in life changing obedience.

I’m Just Sayin!

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2 thoughts on “American Idol – Why I love It and What It Teaches Me

  1. Kim Stewart on said:

    GREAT post! I didn’t know you were such a fan! I really didn’t know you got so emotional about it. I learned something new about you.

  2. So I just read this post sitting on train headed back to Delhi and I wanted to let you know it was a pretty awesome post. Loved the application you drew from Idol, wish more preachers and teachers would think through those things before they present the Word. Thanks Shay

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