Bruce Springsteen on Meaning and Purpose

Bruce Springsteen is on tour again. I’ve never been a Springsteen fan, but his music has affected millions. Recently, Scott Pelley interviewed Springsteen for the TV show 60 Minutes. His concert was described as “part circus, dance party, political rally, and big tent revival.” Here’s a portion of the interview, street language unedited.

“You have got to be, wild guess, worth somewhere north of 100 million dollars. Why are you still touring? You don’t have to do this,” Pelley remarks.

“What else would I do? You got any clues?” Springsteen asks. “Got any suggestions? I mean, am I going to garden? Why would you stop? I mean, you play the music and you know, grown men cry. And women dance. That’s why you do it.”

“It’s good to be a rock star,” Pelley says.

“I would say that yes it is,” Springsteen says. “But the star thing I can live with. The music I can’t live without. And that’s how it lays out for me, you know. I got as big an ego and enjoy the attention. My son has a word, he calls it ‘Attention Whore.’ But you have to be one of those or else why would you be up in front of thousands of people, you know, shaking your butt. But at the same time, when it comes down to it, it’s the way it makes you feel. I do it because of the way it makes me feel when I do it. It gives me meaning, it gives me purpose,” Springsteen explains.

Hearing Springsteen talk about why he does what he does made me freshly aware of how different leading corporate worship is from being a rock star, even though at times the line can be blurred, both in our culture and in our hearts. Here are a few of the distinctions.

“The music I can’t live without.” I love music. I’ve been playing music for the last 46 years, and professionally for thirty five. Right now I have close to 40 days of music on my iTunes and iPod. But if I had to make a choice, I could live without music. It’s Jesus I can’t live without, in every sense of the word. Music is just one more of God’s blessings, meant to direct our attention to the Giver and create fresh affection for the God who gives all good gifts (James 1:17).`

“I…enjoy the attention…or else why would you be up in front of thousands of people?” Whether we’re up in front of ten people or ten thousand, we can all crave the same thing – attention. We want to be the center of the world, even if for a few moments, thinking we deserve at least a portion of the glory that rightly belongs to God alone. But there are other reasons we can want to be in front of people, and they have nothing to do with us. We can want to direct people’s eyes to the matchless Savior, whose glory knows no bounds. Paul said it like this: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). All our musical skill, all our creative arrangements, all our technical prowess might impress people, but it certainly doesn’t impress God. He’s the one who gave us everything we have as well as the ability to develop it. Our goal in leading people is to communicate through our gestures, voices, bodies, and faces that Jesus Christ is a great Savior, and that God is worthy to be loved, trusted, and obeyed with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

“When it comes down to it, it’s the way it makes you feel.” Leading people to praise and encounter God can be a very fulfilling experience. I’ve cried, laughed for joy, shouted, stood in awe, and been overwhelmed with the sense of God’s presence. But we don’t lead worship because of the way it makes us feel. Our goal isn’t to reach a musical high. We lead worship because Jesus has been given the name above all names and is worthy of worship. Ideally, we’re already experiencing the peace, joy, and strength of the Holy Spirit as we step up to lead others, and want them to drink from the same fountain of Gospel grace that we’ve been enjoying.

“I do it because of the way it makes me feel when I do it. It gives me meaning, it gives me purpose.” If the good feeling I have when I’m the center of attention is where I find my ultimate meaning and purpose, I have a very small world. God created us to find our meaning in Jesus Christ – his purposes, his plans, and his exaltation. The day will come when everything in heaven and earth will be subject to Jesus Christ for the ultimate glory of the Father (1 Cor. 15:28). Paul looked on all his gains and achievements as loss, compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus the Lord. He tells us that “Christ is our life” (Col. 3:4). Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). What gives us meaning and purpose is not what we do for God or for others, but what God has done for us in sending his Son to atone for our sins and deliver us from our sinful selves. He has freed us from being fixated on our own lives to be overwhelmed and undone by his goodness, greatness, and beauty.

We’ve benefited greatly from musical and technological advances of recent decades. And leading a band doesn’t mean we have the same attitude as Bruce Springsteen. But we need to be clear on what role music plays in our worship and the place it holds in our hearts. We can’t think and act like rock stars and exalt the crucified Messiah at the same time.

I’d be interested in hearing where the “rock star” mentality may have invaded your ideas of leading God’s people to worship him, and what you’ve done to fight it.

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33 Responses to Bruce Springsteen on Meaning and Purpose

  1. Matthew Westerholm October 23, 2007 at 6:34 PM #

    Isn’t Springsteen’s nickname “The Boss”? Sad.

    Great post, Bob. Both thoughtful and engaging. Thank-you.

  2. David October 23, 2007 at 7:35 PM #

    I’ve fought that “rock star” mentality by taking every thought captive for Christ, lots of prayer, and above all being humbled by the greatness of who God is and what He has done. You miss out if you worship yourself and not Jesus!

  3. Josh October 23, 2007 at 9:46 PM #

    “I’d be interested in hearing where the “rock star” mentality may have invaded your ideas of leading God’s people to worship him, and what you’ve done to fight it.”

    Sadly, I can remember many times of leading worship that I had thoughts like, “Does my wireless guitar pack make me look as cool as Keith Urban?” or, “They must think my strumming is pretty talented.” Pretty revealing huh? Idolatry and worship cannot happen at the same time, and God has graciously been patient to reveal this to me and is sanctifying this area of my heart. For me, it requires a right mindset all week. I usually begin praying the week prior to leading that God would give me a right heart and desire for His glory most of all. I then ask Him more specifically what He desires to do in our hearts and what He wants to speak to us. This creates in my heart an anticipation for the meeting, and now I find more thoughts like, “Jesus, there is no one like You!” and “Bless your people today with faith and hope from your word.” When I think like this, I forget myself (how insignificant a rockstar compared to the greatness of the living God!) and feel a true sense of privilege to serve.

    Bob, when you say, “Ideally, we’re already experiencing the peace, joy, and strength of the Holy Spirit as we step up to lead others..” Should this be our experience every time we lead? I find that there are times that I’m distracted by the morning set-up/rehearsal etc… and by singing the truth of the first song or two I sense more of the peace, joy and strength of the Holy Spirit.

  4. Kyle October 23, 2007 at 10:24 PM #

    There are times when the band is playing well, the songs are affecting, and the congregation is responsive that my proud heart begins to silently prod, “Look, you’ve led these people into a meaningful time.” Or, if I’m honest, my heart has gone so far as to suggest, “All these people must think you’re really gifted.” I detest those moments of disgusting self-exaltation more than any other temptation or battle I fight as a leader of corporate worship. No one else would even know it’s happening, but there is one pair of eyes that see straight into my heart, and I know that in those moments, it must grieve him.

  5. Bob Kauflin October 23, 2007 at 10:30 PM #


    That’s why I said, “ideally.” There’s no guarantee that when I start to lead a group of people in giving praise to God that I’m going to be completely focused. But as a rule, I shouldn’t be waiting to be moved myself as we sing. I want to lead others by my faith and present experience of God’s goodness. That means prayerful preparation. I’ve found saying “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” is a helpful way to prepare my heart as I lead or preach.

  6. John Burton October 24, 2007 at 3:58 AM #

    Springsteen is real, god is just a figment of your imagination. Springsteen gives a lot of money to charity (quietly and without fuss). God gives nothing because there is no such thing as god. Religion is an evil that causes untold misery throughout the world by preying on the vulnerable and peddling fantasy. Of course you’ll probably delete this post because your belief is so narrow minded that the questioning of this ridiculous illusion doesn’t warrant discussion. Springsteen pretty much summed it all up in his song ‘reason to believe’.

  7. Rob P October 24, 2007 at 6:48 AM #

    Thank you, Bob. Excellent observations as always.

  8. Bob Kauflin October 24, 2007 at 8:52 AM #


    Thanks for stopping by. I’m not sure you’ll read this since you didn’t think I’d post your comment, but I wanted to respond to what you said. I have nothing against Bruce Springsteen. I’m sure if I had the opportunity he’d be a great guy to hang around with. He’s a brilliant songwriter and performer. And I’m grateful that he gives money to charity. But none of those things has anything to do with whether or not God exists. Bruce gives money to charity. God gives us the ability to exist. Bruce creates great songs. God created the universe. In both cases, the latter is more significant than the former.

    Question all you want, but nothing changes the fact that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose from the dead to rescue and redeem rebellious sinners. Questions and excuses won’t help us when we stand before God on the last day, giving an account for the way we lived and what we did with Jesus Christ.

    The point of my post was expressed pretty well by Springsteen himself in his song, “Glory Days.”

    “Glory days well they’ll pass you by
    Glory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye

    And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
    but I probably will
    Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
    a little of the glory of, well time slips away
    and leaves you with nothing mister but
    boring stories of glory days”

    All our glory is derived, relative, and fading. The glory of the God who created us and gave his Son to receive our judgment lasts forever. It only makes sense that we should give it to him now.

    If you’re open, I’d encourage you to check out More Than a Carpenter by Josh MacDowell, and I Don’t Have Faith Enough to Be An Atheist by Norm Geisler.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

    • Chris Feller March 16, 2019 at 8:27 AM #

      I am moved by this post. What an amazing display of Grace and presentation of the Gospel. I pray all the time for wisdom like this

  9. Peter Hamm October 24, 2007 at 9:47 AM #

    This is a constant battle, especially when, as the team leader, you might have more experience and ability than the people you lead, especially when you are the “pro” and they are volunteers.

    Here’s something I’m in the midst of doing that I think is really working.

    I’m firing myself over a period of time as “lead vocalist”… I have enough singers that I could very conceivably have a different individual lead each song. Eventually, and it happens with some regularity now, I hope no one will be able to tell who the team leader is on any given weekend.

    BUT… Please… we must not let our humility stifle our ability. We MUST do excellent work for our Master… we MUST play and sing and lead and cheerlead to the best of our ability… the BEST! I have TOO often seen worship leaders do a poor job because they didn’t want to get too big a head or become a rock star. Find a way to keep that from happening that does NOT mean doing a poor job.

  10. John Burton October 24, 2007 at 9:56 AM #

    Well at least my posting wasn’t deleted and I have no wish to take up more of your time as we are never going to agree on anything. However, I can’t let some points go unchallenged. I should also point out that my general comments relate to all religions and I’m not specifically taking issue with Christians.

    “the fact that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose from the dead to rescue and redeem rebellious sinners”

    Now someone who became known as Jesus may (or may not have lived) but the rest I’m afraid is pure heresay and conjecture. You weren’t there so I’m afraid it would be inadmissible evidence in any court (and please don’t say read the bible because that is equally invalid as evidence).

    Of course it’s at this stage that the believer drags out their last card and says that it is necessary for me to disprove the existence of god. Here I must refer you to Bertrand Russell;

    “If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”

    On the subject of books you may want to consider reading A Devil’s Chaplain by Richard Dawkins who developed the above further:

    The reason organized religion merits outright hostility is that, unlike belief in Russell’s teapot, religion is powerful, influential, tax-exempt and systematically passed on to children too young to defend themselves. Children are not compelled to spend their formative years memorizing loony books about teapots. Government-subsidized schools don’t exclude children whose parents prefer the wrong shape of teapot. Teapot-believers don’t stone teapot-unbelievers, teapot-apostates, teapot-heretics and teapot-blasphemers to death. Mothers don’t warn their sons off marrying teapot-shiksas whose parents believe in three teapots rather than one. People who put the milk in first don’t kneecap those who put the tea in first.

    This latter of course is the key to my comment about religions being evil. I have no truck with your beliefs. You can believe all you want but to indoctrinate children in your belief is clearly child abuse. By all means teach children about religion, but teach them about Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, atheism, etc etc Let them decide what they want to believe after being given all the facts. It is clearly arrogant beyond belief to assume that one religion is correct and others are not.

    I shall leave it there. As I said we’ll never see eye to eye. The moment one person can show me proof of god’s existence I shall believe. However, there is not one scrap of such evidence in thousands of years history.

  11. Bob Kauflin October 24, 2007 at 10:33 AM #


    Great point. Avoiding being a “rock star worship leader” doesn’t mean we can give ourselves over to mediocrity.


    Thanks for stopping by again! You’re right. I don’t think we’re going to make much progress in changing each other’s thoughts in the comments section of a blog. Talk about something that is fading away…

    Thanks for your honest comments and thoughts. I’ll limit myself to two responses.

    First, if we can’t prove that Jesus existed, then that pretty much rules out Plato, Aristotle, Julius Caesar, Mohammad, and a host of other historical figures whose existence is only substantiated by written records.

    Second, I think I would be arrogant beyond belief to think that I was in a secure enough position – intellectually, spiritually, or morally – to dismiss Jesus Christ and the two thousand years of Israelite history that preceded him.

    I encourage you to continue to look for those “scraps of evidence” for God’s existence. They’re literally all around you.

    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge (Psalms 19:1-2).

  12. Kevin Doyle October 24, 2007 at 11:12 AM #

    Hey Bob,

    Thanks for the post. Great insight and a great question. I have definitely struggled with the rock star mentality myself. For years, I failed in trying to combat it. It was a nasty attitude that was one of my Romans 7 experiences….”I do what I don’t want to do”.

    When I read your question, the hymn came to mind

    When I survey the wondrous cross
    On Which the King of Glory died
    My richest gain I count as loss
    And pour contempt on all my pride

    The only way to combat this is through our remembrance of the Gospel. The “rock star” mentality is sin. It is pride that creeps in ever so sneakily. I remember a time that I would justify this mentality as something that was needed or wanted, in order to have a “successful” worship experience. Praise God, He has purged me of such thoughts, not that I don’t struggle from time to time, but I have found the right answer, the Gospel, and I am truly free from such bondage.

    Thanks again Bob.

    -Kevin in Meridian

  13. Mike October 24, 2007 at 12:22 PM #

    You wrote, “This latter of course is the key to my comment about religions being evil.” I wonder, what is the basis for “evil” in your eyes? You say there is no such thing as “God” but then decry that Christianity or religion in general is evil. Without a God to declare what is “good” and what is “evil” how can you, with any authority or confidence condemn something as “evil.” You’re borrowing a belief about evil from the very thing you say doesn’t exist!

  14. Chris October 24, 2007 at 1:05 PM #

    What’s amazing to me is that so many of our brothers in the faith look to Bruce and his music as inspiration, especially on the “Devils and Dust” album. He is hailed for his ability to put the most complex of emotions into the simplest of terms, but should we do that with God? Should he be reduced to manageable bite-sized chunks? Of course not.
    One of the biggest ways that the “rockstar” mentality has invaded my service from the stage stems from the desire to be influential in peoples lives. My flesh wants to say things that make people go “Amen!” because it will make me feel important, but in reality, I don’t even like being on stage, I don’t want to be seen. I think our job as worship leaders is not just very different from a rock star, but completely the opposite. At it’s best, worship leading points the congregation (regardless of size as you said “10 or 10,000) past us and to the Cross. We are aimed at getting peoples attention in the right place.

    Great post. in a time when the lines really are blurred it’s important to be reminded of our place, washing peoples feet for the praise and glory of God.

    Praise God for your ministry Bob (can’t wait for the conference)

    Grace and Peace

    Chris from Castro Valley

  15. Sean October 25, 2007 at 11:07 AM #


    Thank you for visiting this site and giving some comments for us to chew on. I think it is important for historical writings to come alongside the Bible and give evidence to its claims. If the Bible is true, it can withstand all written historical records. If not, there would be discrepancies everywhere. I believe we should honestly and diligently search to see if it is.

    Research has shown that there are more historical documents that Christ rose from the dead than documents that caesars ruled Rome. There are over 5,000 documents of Christ’s resurrection.

    A few years ago, I came across this quote. It is Pilate’s testimony AFTER Jesus’ resurrection. This was written in Pilate’s own handwriting, and is referred to by several period historians, non of which are mentioned in the Bible (Tertullion, Justin Martyr, and Eusibeus).

    “There befell of late a matter of which I myself made trial, for the Jews out of envy have published themselves and their posterity with fearful judgments of their own fault for whereas heaven, his HOLY ONE, who should of right be called King, and of promise he would send him on earth. By a virgin, he then came when I was governor of Judea, and they beheld him, enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the palsy, driving the devils out of men, raising the dead, rebuking the wind, walking on the waves of the sea, and doing many other wonders, all the people of the Jews calling him the Son of God.

    The Christ Priest therefore moved with envy against, took him and delivered him unto me, and brought against him one false accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and that he did things contrary to the law, but I believing that these things were so, having scourged him, delivered him to their will, and they crucified him. And when he was buried they set their guards upon him. But while my soldiers watched him, he rose again on the third day. Yet, so much was the malice of the Jews kindled they gave money to the soldiers saying, “Say that his disciples stole away his body.”

    But they, though they took the money were not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to pass, for they have also testified that they saw him arisen and that they received money from the Jews and these things have I reported unto thy mightiness for this cause, less some other should lie unto thee and thou shouldest deem right to believe the false tale of the Jews.”

  16. Bob Kauflin October 25, 2007 at 6:48 PM #


    Thanks for stopping by. This is very much off topic to this post, but I did want to mention that your quote from Pilate is considered to be a forgery. We have nothing in his “own handwriting.” In his book The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, Christian scholar F.F. Bruce wrote:

    We should especially like to know if Pilate sent home to Rome any report of the trial and execution of Jesus, and, if so, what it contained. But it is not certain that he must have done so; and if he did, it has disappeared beyond trace.

    Certainly some ancient writers believed that Pilate did send in such a report, but there is no evidence that any of them had any real knowledge of it. About AD 150 Justin Martyr, addressing his Defence of Christianity to the Emperor Antoninius Pius, referred him to Pilate’s report, which Justin supposed must be preserved in the imperial archives. ‘But the words, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” ‘ he says, ‘are a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided them among themselves; and that these things were so, you may learn from the “Acts” which were recorded under Pontius Pilate.” Later he says: ‘That He performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied from the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate.”

    Then Tertullian, the great jurist-theologian of Carthage, addressing his Defence of Christianity to the man authorities in the province of Africa about AD 197, says: ‘Tiberius, in whose time the Christian name first made its appearance in the world, laid before the Senate tidings from Syria Palestina which had revealed to him the truth of the divinity there manifested, and supported the motion by his own vote to begin with. The Senate rejected it because it had not itself given its approval. Caesar held to his own opinion and threatened danger to the accusers of the Christians.”

    It would no doubt be pleasant if we could believe this story of Tertullian, which he manifestly believed to be true but a story so inherently improbable and inconsistent with what we know of Tiberius, related nearly 170 years after the event, does not commend itself to a historian’s judgment. (p. 115-116)

    But there is plenty of other evidence that Jesus was indeed real, and the only Savior of the world.

  17. Sean October 25, 2007 at 9:47 PM #


    My apologies for the misquote. Thanks for your correction.

  18. Michael Cheng October 25, 2007 at 9:53 PM #

    The spite against organized religion, as John’s posts have made reference to, cannot be limited to Christianity (and this may very well be an issue that has been based on other unstated assumptions not to be unpacked here but would be worthwhile to consider). A reality that we must come to grips with is that all “religion” cannot be simplistically and unequivocally generalized to be in the same bucket. I understand the spite against manipulation: Psychological, social and otherwise. According to the bible, Jesus frees us from this very tyranny… but if we cannot point to “the bible because that is equally invalid as evidence”, then, as Mike has
    previously posted, we have to consider what the basis for this evil is?

  19. Steve October 27, 2007 at 2:58 PM #

    Hey Bob,

    Great topic and perspective! As I have read through the blog and all of the comments posted, some thoughts have rolled through my head….

    1. Almost every Sunday, I find myself coming down from the platform after leading, and walking into the foyer for a quick cool off and drink of water, and inevitably, I find someone along the way, and either after a “high-five” or a pat on the shoulder, I find myself asking them “How did the music sound today?” Now while I would like to qualify asking this question to be certain that I and the team are fulfilling the command in Scripture that tells us to play skillfully, I know that my real motivation much of the time behind my question is the pride of my own heart, and my seeking of approval from others around me…

    2. Also, I am reminded of the arena of “Contemporary Christian Music” at large. You and I actually sat down briefly after one of the night meetings at the “Glorify” conference in Orlando, and chatted briefly about the differences between professional performing musicians and worship leaders (not expecting you to remember that by the way, you had a ton going on). Here is what I am reminded of, keeping in mind that I have many close friends in the professional CCM industry. There are many Christian concerts that I have been to where it wasn’t easy to see the difference between that and one that Bruce Springsteen might put on. We must be so careful and vigilant!!!!! As much as one might condemn Springsteen for his actions and comments, we must constantly check ourselves, and those we even listen to in the Christian market…

    I am also reminded of some helps…

    1. Kneel at the cross of Christ daily, reminding ourselves that our righteousness is but as filthy rags, and there is never anything good, entertaining, or praiseworthy about us, save our testimony of how Christ has redeemed us from that.

    2. Read “Humility-True Greatness” by C.J. at least monthly… looking at practical ways we can live, lead and listen humbly.. WOW!!! What a perspective-giver!

    Thanks for listening to my ramblings….

    Tampa, Fl

  20. Mark Altrogge October 29, 2007 at 11:40 PM #


    Excellent article! Thanks for faithfully pointing us to our glorious Savior for so many years. Thanks for serving us the way you do!

    I was, and in many ways, still am, just like Bruce at heart. I’m so grateful I have a Savior who has pardoned me by his blood and is making me like himself.


  21. Wally Joiner October 30, 2007 at 9:59 AM #


    There seems to be a positive and negative aspect to the war against pride; a bringing down from the pedestal, and a lifting up from the pit. We are not to think to highly or too lowly of ourselves. Humility is thinking accurately of ourselves. For believers, as the righteous Job concluded when tested, we must say when compare ourselves to God, “I have heard of You with the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You, therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Pride is an ongoing exercise of comparing myself to other mortals. Humility starts and persists with this gaze upon God. This is the negative aspect: coming to grips with our finiteness at best, and our vileness at worst.

    An intellectual atheist (oxymoron?) acquaintance of mine, and sadly one who 30 years ago used to do Christian music ministry with me, sent me this video of Stanley Jordan, the guy who plays complicated jazz on TWO guitars SIMULTANEOUSLY. At first I thought, “Man, give it up, Joiner! You cannot play half of what he is playing on one guitar. But then I had this thought that rescued me from that pride that is sad, and that was that Mr. Jordan, as talented as he is, is but a sad circus sideshow to God. All of the amazing feats of mankind are but circus acts when compared to the wonders of God. It is folly, as Scripture says, to “compare ourselves with ourselves.” I remember Jonathan Edwards writing, (paraphrased) “Lost men (and Christians too often) who boast of their accomplishments and abilities are like one dung hill worm boasting to another about their great mound.” We are wonderfully delivered from this sort of pride by exiting through the door labeled, “Ordinary Creatures.” I don’t have to be Stanley Jordan, but the world and the devil keep giving me the measuring stick of human ability and accomplishment to find out if I am truly happy; to inform me if my happiness is sanctioned by the standard. Don’t take the stick! The marks of heaven’s sons are: good, faithful, servant. Are you good? Are you faithful? Do you serve in all that you do? Hear the Father’s commendation, “Well done!” (a voice that should be often heard through the recipients of the good and faithful service, more below) Faith will be required to value such a commendation, so strengthen your faith, and His voice will be more that enough to content you as you live among the competing dung hill worms. I am not defined by my chops, though the world, in league with my old man, says that I am. I will labor toward excellence until I die, but at best, if not for Him and for His bride, my music is nothing more than a circus act, and my leading of worship is just the act in the booth next to the Amazing Bearded Woman.

    A second sort of pride is less obvious, and that is the sulking, sinking pride. The above is that of a self-proclaimed champion, and the other is that of an unbelieving quitter. Sadly, this sort is beautified as a element of humility, but it is the other face of pride. Though this may look like, “I abhor myself,” it is not. It is really, “I adore myself, and no one seems to notice my glory. Blind fools!” This was Jonah’s defect. When God ask, “Should you be angry,” he came out from his sulking shell and screamed, “Yes, I should be angry.” The anger is ultimately toward God that He as the foremost does not perceive the glory of our opinions and accomplishments and abilities.

    So, pride will try to escape to the right or to the left. It will run, looking for commendations from fellow worms while shutting its eyes to the great Standard, or it will run seeking a place to die because of the faithless and false recitation, a mantra of doom, “I am utterly useless.”

    Solomon wrote, “Let another man praise you, and not your own lips.” The obvious here is, don’t boast about yourself. But perhaps implied here is a duty for others, “praise the excellence and usefulness and goodness around you. Learn to admire the grace of God in others, and declare that admiration.” It is all from God. “Encourage one another daily.” The sad place is a temptation to those who cannot see any point to their lives. Surely, this is unbelief, but truth is the remedy and they (I so often) cannot speak it to myself. What a “cup of cold water” that grateful “pat on the back” or hug for a good and faithful service performed will be to those sinking down in the vortex of unbelief. One of my pastors tells me almost weekly, “You need to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That is not what I am thinking about myself. I am thinking, “What a poor job, proud and unfaithful self-seeker.” Certainly, traces of this will be found in all that I do throughout my entire life, but what Al Pino says to me and is trying to beat into my head, is that God is pleased. I think that we need more Al Pinos, sons of encouragement, to give balance to those who cannot get past being one who “beats on his breast and cannot even lift up his eyes to heaven.” Perhaps Jesus’ commendation was heard by this man who went down to his house justified. If so, surely this is an example to follow.


  22. Steve B. November 1, 2007 at 11:48 PM #

    Bob, excellent thoughts. I would humbly suggest, however, that BOTH the desire to be a “star” and the desire to AVOID being a star are symptoms of perverse and sinful pride. We are simply to let God be God; He it is who sets up kings and brings them down. Our job, only and always, is to worship Him, three in one. All of the effort spent worrying about whether we are effective or whether we are acting like a “star” is effort wasted. True heartfelt worship is always effective, no matter the abilities or talents of the worshipper. Worship that is from a heart which has been touched by God’s great grace is worship that will ascend to His throne. Anyone following the flow of that heart-worship will naturally be led to “look up” and follow along in worship as well. The Spirit will do the approving of our offering in Christ and He will do the work of making our worship effective. Let’s all remember, brethren, not to make an idol out of the virtue of humility, either. Grace and peace to you all.

  23. Downbound Train March 22, 2008 at 11:26 AM #

    Most of the posters here seem more concerned with their ego’s than Bruce. The self-loathing banter is transparent folks.

    In the words of Springsteen:”It ain’t no sin to be glad your alive.”

  24. Bob Kauflin March 22, 2008 at 2:37 PM #

    Downbound Train,

    Thanks for joining in the conversation. “Self-loathing” has been cited elsewhere as the root of depression, suicide, and a host of other ills. But self-hatred simply proves our desire to be the ultimate judge, to call the shots, and to set my own standards, which I fail miserably to meet. It’s a form of inverse pride that says because I can’t have things the way I want, I can do whatever I want with my life, even end it.

    No one here, as far as I know, would disagree with Springsteen when he says, “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.” The all-important question is, what does it mean to be alive? The Bible says that we only find life in knowing our Creator, which is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 17:3). Jesus said if you lose your life for my sake, you’ll find it (Matthew 10:39). The “self” we loathe is that part of us that rebels against God’s right to rule and own us, and seeks to steal the glory that rightfully belongs only to Him. Which is what I originally addressed in this post.

    Only when we love Jesus Christ more than our own lives do we really know what it means to be alive. If the end of my existence is bringing glory to me, not only do I have a very small world, but I’m ignoring the fact that God loves me better than I could ever love myself, and that he is infinitely more worthy of love than me.

  25. cathy March 23, 2008 at 3:39 AM #

    I’ve recently been struggling with how to respond to/handle internally “the praise of man”. How do I respond graciously in true humility? How do I get my own gaze off myself and “my” gifts?

    As I was working through this a word picture that came to mind that I think will help me from this time forward. When we look at a flower God’s created, though we acknowledge that He created it, we do still pause to say, “What a beautiful flower” and we just enjoy looking at it. What does the flower do? Does it straighten up it’s stem and show off it’s beauty? Does it shrink and wilt and try to become less noticeable? No. It just keeps on doing what it was created to do. It just continues to be a flower, reflecting God’s glory. So my words to myself are “Be a flower” :)… when I hear words of praise, say “thank you” with a gracious spirit, and turn my own heart’s gaze to the Father, resting in the warmth of His sunlight, and continue to do, and be, what He created me to be, obedient to His call and His purpose.

    Also, following a time when I shared my testimony ( interspersed with songs I had written and a time of worship), I realized as women came to me and embraced me, some with tears in their eyes, that my receiving their words, and their hugs, is just as much a part of ministering to them as sharing my story and songs. There is something in the receiving that “completes the circle”… From the Father through me to them, from them through me, back to the Father. A few women said, “that could have been my story” and I realized that we are sisters of the heart, though living out our own stories, we are really being caught up in His story as He is a Father to us all.

    I have begun reading Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney (from Bob’s recommended book list), and he offers several life-impacting insights and practical applications that have challenged me to recognize that humility is something that has to be actively cultivated on a daily basis, and that this pursuit is not even possible without Christ’s work on the cross. In Mahaney’s words, “We can not free ourselves from pride and selfish ambition; a divine rescue is absolutely necessary.”(p.52) Though I haven’t yet read it, I think Heart of the Artist by Rory Noland looks like it will also be a helpful read in this arena of managing ego, and figuring out what true humility looks like.


  26. clara July 27, 2008 at 11:03 PM #

    I really enjoyed the 60 minutes interview with Bruce Springsteen. He is living a purpose, and reflecting God. You do not have to openly worship God to prove that you are a reflection. He is demonstrating Life, he is active, intelligent and full of passion. This is inspirational. Worshiping God does not have to be so literal. It comes in many forms. Music runs through him like God does. He found his purpose, and has used his God given talent. Living and doing what we love, does not have to separate from our Love of God. And to me, Bruce has shown a sense of purpose, dedication, loyalty and love to the best of his ability. God works everywhere, not just in traditional church organizations, and “culture” of religions. Being obsessed with God, does not necessarily mean you are living it. Prove, do it, go live whatever it is you are feeling inspired to do…even if it is routine. I see too many people obsessed with proving that they know God, and know the bible, just get out there and Love your life. Keep it simple.

  27. Bob Kauflin July 29, 2008 at 5:10 PM #


    Thanks for stopping by. You say many things that I agree with. God does work everywhere. Being obsessed with God doesn’t mean you’re following his commands. And I do appreciate the fact that Bruce is active and full of passion.

    But God has revealed who he is and what he’s like in the Bible. And he especially works through his Word and his people. He’s told us what it means to worship him. It involves what we say, think, and do. And it results in giving glory to Jesus Christ for saving us through his death and resurrection. As far as I can tell, Bruce seems like a great guy, but unless what he does points people to the only Savior, he’s worshiping something other than the true God.

  28. Bonkero June 12, 2009 at 2:39 PM #

    Hi. I am a Christian and was looking up some stuff about Bruce and found this, and I want to thank you for what you wrote. There are some of my Christian friends who recently went to a concert of Bruce, so I thought I’d check out what he is professing in his songs. Sadly, many of the songs seems to be of the part that does, in some way, look like Christianity, only without the most important part; Jesus Christ dying for our sins. That is probably the most dangerous type of anti Christian spirituality. Something that looks so much like true Christianity, but essentially is not. The Devil sometimes (often) reveals himself as an Angel of Light…

  29. Louise September 16, 2009 at 7:39 AM #

    One of my long standing dreams was to attend Bruce Springsteen concerts live. . I know all the words of his songs by heart �well he is performing this year. Next weekend I�m going to visit my sister and we will attend his
    concert; someone recommended me to get cheap tix.
    So I’ll be analyzing as well as enjoying the concert.

  30. tickets February 24, 2010 at 5:05 AM #

    Bruce has shown a sense of purpose, dedication, loyalty and love to the best of his ability. God works everywhere, not just in traditional church organizations, and “culture” of religions. Being obsessed with God, does not necessarily mean you are living it.

  31. erin bruce January 14, 2011 at 11:44 AM #

    Bob, I don’t know you. I was googling “rock star/worship leader”(because of some recent staff issues) and this came up. Your answers are awesome. Thank you for being so thoughtful with your words. It’s a gift:)

    It’s such a worship leader struggle to be self glorifying and to be too insecure(which I struggle with). My desire is to see someone in a crowd that’s never delved into a relationship with God-jump in. There’s nothing like it. It’s like watching your child take his first step. The rock star mentality repulses me. I suppose if I were a bit cooler, I might struggle with the self glorification part. I do think it’s more of a struggle when you are really cool. :) No kidding.

    I am desperate for Him to be my purpose. And He doesn’t care how cool I am. That’s the best part. As much as we practice until we have an awesome, tight, relevant sound, I’ll take the guy with a true worshippers heart-without quite as much coolness or talent- over the rockstar-worship leader any day. A rock star may bring people to your church, but he will only draw them to himself. Then you’ve really got yourself(ministry leaders) in a bind.


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