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Bob Kilpatrick - The Professional Christian

  • Updated Feb 01, 2002
Bob Kilpatrick - The Professional Christian
By {{Bob Kilpatrick}}, courtesy of {{Christian Musician}}

"I have always said," growled Peter, "that the professional advocate was the most immoral fellow on the face of the earth, and now I know for certain."
-Dorothy L. Sayers
Clouds Of Witness

I make my living advocating the Christian life. I have done so since I was seventeen. I derive my support from making appearances and speaking in favor of Jesus Christ. When I was a teenager, I told all my friends about my newfound relationship with Jesus, and I didnt take up an offering. I was an amateur: that is, one who does what he does for love, not money. I am now a professional.

In the early days of my ministry, I never spoke in terms of my "career" in music. It was a calling, and even though I was paid, I still considered myself an amateur. I was passionate about it. I had to be. The honorariums I received were so tiny, I certainly couldn't be doing it for the money. Our first year's taxable income was $1,700. Someone in the IRS found an excuse to send us a check for $800 even though we'd never paid a dime into the system.

Things got better. I made more money, had more kids, bought a bigger house, hired people to work with us, got larger offices, put out better albums, paid taxes, spent more money on just about everything. Now we were a machine that needed fuel, and the fuel was money. And then my wife made a comment about my career. I was taken aback. This was not a career; it was still my calling. Yet I had been doing this for a long enough time that, in everyone else's eyes, it was my career. I was way behind and needed to change my thinking.

My quandary was to think of myself as a professional without thinking of myself as a professional Christian. It could be so easy to speak of Jesus merely because a) I'm good at it and b) it pays my bills, whether I believe or not. I could easily allow a rift to grow in my own heart between my true beliefs and my expressed beliefs. It happens to people, good people, who perhaps never see it coming. I didn't want it to happen to me, especially because I had young ones whose lives would be shaped by the way I lived at home, not in public. My brother-in-law, a psychologist, tells me this disconnection is called "cognitive dissonance" in his circles. Further, he tells me that the human psyche cannot abide this inharmonious existence forever or it will unravel. One must reconcile one's true beliefs with one's actions sooner or later, or simply come apart. Now that I know this, I can see, in retrospect, that this happened to some ministers I knew. They seemed to be great examples of propriety and ministry until one day; they seemed to flip out, ran off with the organist, abandoned their families and sold used cars or insurance for a living and a brand new life. One went to Reno and became (no joke) an Elvis impersonator. Fitting, isn't it? From one act to another, I suppose he'd had some practice.

A professional advocate is paid to say what he's paid to say. As an example, an attorney is not hired to find the truth. He is obliged to protect his client's best interest, whether the truth is served or not. That's what he's paid to do. In other times and cultures, mourners were paid. They were hired to appear at the funeral. They could care less about the dear departed. This was a job. Pay in advance, weeping on demand.

The subtle danger every day is that I, too, will say something, not because I believe it, but because it plays to the interests of the people who pay my bills. My words and my beliefs will drift apart and my heart will either be seared like as with a hot iron or it will quiver with the pangs of conscience until I repent of this wickedness. And wickedness it is. This was the very sin of the religious leaders that irked Jesus in His day. He saved his most vitriolic attacks for them. He said they were whitewashed on the outside and rotten on the inside. Oh, how I don't want that to be said of me!

Years ago a wise friend talked to me about fame and its dangers. He thought I was on the cusp of some notoriety. His counsel was that I should endeavor to ensure that the image and the reality of who I am be the same. I have heeded his words. I daily fight against my own hypocrisy. I am a professional. I am not a professional Christian. I am a follower of Christ.

{{Bob Kilpatrick}}'s new album releases in July from Fair Oaks music. He wrote the classic song "(In My Life) Lord, Be Glorified" and is available for speaking and concerts. Bob lives with his wife and two of their five children in Fair Oaks, California. A dog (on her way out) and two cats (who couldn't care less) would also list the same address, if they could write. They cannot, but you can at 2000 Bob Kilpatrick Ministries, Inc.