As I sat in a room with a mere 8500 other people the energy was tangible, there’s nothing like Oprah to get the excitement level up there! People purchased tickets at astronomical rates to attend Oprah’s first ever Canadian appearance and then lined up for hours hoping to get the best seats on the day of the event!
At times over the course of the experience I felt like a duck out of water, frankly I just don’t have the idolization of Oprah that many other fans seem to have. I respect Oprah, grew up on her talk show and could pen a huge list of her accomplishments both for herself and for her charities. I acknowledge her brilliance in business and on her journey. BUT I draw the line at worship.
Sitting in my chair which was decently close to the stage, I took a moment to look back towards the far end of the auditorium and was amazed at the visual. The sheer volume of people attending was powerful, 8500+ minds and hearts waited to be moved during LifeClass. In my mind this was a wonderful opportunity, I imagined being a presenter and the magnitude of the responsibility of bringing the message with me.
Listening to the folks in the conference hall saying the names of the presenters in such awe-filled voices was amusing at first, and slowly became thought-provoking. It would be safe to say that a large portion of the attendees are seeking meaning in their lives, their attendance alone reflected this.
Would attendees find their answers in the messages being presented or in the presenters?
When we’re dealing with celebrity presenters it’s likely that a percentage become lost to the message by being star-struck.
The topic was one that is dear to me, Gratitude.
How does one present on gratitude without including faith?
Over the past few years gratitude has been the center of my life, the driving force behind every conscious move I make. I have sought to retrain myself, constantly striving to reflect this on a subconscious level. The only way I’ve been able to achieve any growth in this area is by turning to my faith.
Deepak Chopra, Iyanla Vanzant,Bishop T.D.Jakes and Tony Robbins all shared their messages on gratitude in the pre-show warm up. I took pages of notes, here are some snippets for you:
- There is a spiritual solution for everything ~ Deepak Chopra
- Gratitude is the door to abundant awareness ~ Deepak Chopra
- Be still and allow God to come forward ~ Iyanla Vanzant
- Live the truth, Be the truth of what you believe in the moment ~ Iyanla Vanzant
- It’s the things that go wrong that make you better ~ Bishop T.D. Jakes
- Move forward with intentionality, your miracle is always in what you have left ~ Bishop T.D. Jakes
- Decisions not conditions determine destiny ~ Tony Robbins
- Change is automatic, progress is not ~ Tony Robbins
Each presenter had their own style and personality with their presentation, each brought forth points of interest for me irrelevant of their faith but they didn’t actually speak about their faith. All of the points I’ve listed above are fantastic, their all truth based but missing the crux of the message….they’re missing the point if they’re not founded in a relationship with God.
I realize that this was a media event, one which was geared to inspire spiritually no matter what people’s spiritual beliefs are but where was the meat of the topic?
How can Bishop T.D. Jakes possibly speak on gratitude without mentioning the supreme sacrifice Jesus made for us?
This question alone will be the topic for an article I’ll write in the near future because it’s one which I dance around often in my mind.
At the end of the day what I was left with was a magnificent respect for all 5 celebrities and their presentations, their passion and their willingness to share. Along with this was a realization that I missed having Jesus recognized or God being given the accolades He deserves.
Throughout the day each presenter did speak the word God, in fact often giving credit but God wasn’t the center of the message and for me….well it felt hollow.
How do we inspire others of different faiths while remaining true to our own? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to focus on my gratitude while excluding the foundation of my faith.
What do you think, how do you inspire and motive others without scaring them off with your faith?
Listen, I’m not saying they should have pushed Jesus or their own Higher Power but isn’t it strange that none of the presenters spoke from the heart of their OWN faith? They didn’t specify where they draw their own spiritual soloution from.
Why is it that we shy away from this, from speaking the words of our faith?
Why do we shut down when people of other faiths present us with messages, cannot we apply the message to our own faith?
C Wilson says
I have similar feeling about Oprah that you do. I admire her greatly but am always a little disappointed when she speaks of her faith. She has such an opportunity to spread the gospel message but stops short to maybe not risk offending.
I waited with bated breath on her final Oprah show when she was imparting her life wisdom for the name JESUS…..but it never came….It was a watered down version of her profession of her Christian faith for the masses.
Jenn @therebelchick says
I have never personally been a big fan of Oprah, but I can actually agree with you here. A lot of celebrities don’t speak about their own personal faith because they think it will deter people from identifying with them. That’s untrue. I am not religious, but attended a seminar by Josh McDowell as a teen that related to sex and love. Even though I didn’t identify with his messages about God, every point he made about the importance of sex and virtue meant something to me because he did it in a way that ANYONE could apply to their lives and their hearts – and they shaped my romantic life and how I behaved with men always.
It is entirely possible to speak about your personal relationship with God with non-believers and still have them listen and identify. Maybe Oprah just isn’t as great at connecting with people as many give her credit for, so she’s afraid to do it.
Jenn @therebelchick says
I think that the point you are missing is that not everyone believes in God. I personally do not, yet I can agree with every single one of the quotes you listed. I am a grateful, conscientious person…and while those who do believe in God may feel that those aspects of human nature are divine, it is possible to be that way “just because.” :)
I am not a Christian because I am a grateful, conscientious person (though there is nothing wrong with being this way), I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus died for me.
Lisa Marie says
We’re kind of in a tricky age – where anyone (celebrity or regular person on the street) isn’t really at liberty to share their own personal beliefs without being attacked or dragged through the mud. By leaving it purposefully ambiguous, they are better able to cover their tooshies. It’s a presentation of tolerance and acceptance of all beliefs.
I understand that.
But I agree with you. It would be better to be open about their own beliefs and experiences. I would love to hear that more. :)
I’ve never been a fan of Oprah but it was interesting to read your thoughts on the event. I have read a few other posts and they all have something different to say
People are afraid to mention that Jesus is their personal savoir. But I’m pretty sure that they are totally screwing themselves by denying Him.
I love to tell people that I’m a big Jesus Freak. It pisses them off more when I tell them that I’m a Republican though.
Your Friend, m.
I think it goes back to the old adage of never speaking about Politics, Religions, or Sex (I think that’s the last one) with a group of individuals.
With myself, I have strong faith and I believe all of my success is derived from hard work and belief in a higher power, which to me is God. As with anything in life, so much is shared with the greater population where many other thoughts and inclinations are keep close to my heart. Many people are that way and that’s OK.
Be still and allow God to come forward ~ Iyanla Vanzant
I truly believe that this is a powerful statement. A powerful statement in gratitude, in suffering, and in pain. There are messages everywhere that hide the word of God. The truth is if you are still and listen…..God will come forward for you……for myself it really doesn’t matter if I share the message or not.
Amy D. says
Well said Julie. I didn’t go to the Life Class sessions for this reason. Oprah has almost become a religion onto herself and really tends to promote a new “truth” every month/week/year/season. I liked her celebrity interviews and watched her show for that reason alone over the years. I can do without the “Oprah the prophet” persona and don’t need her brand of new age thinking (Spiritualism without the spirit and faith with out mentioning God). As for living in an age when we can’t talk about religion in public I don’t buy it… Rev Billy Graham can draw crowd’s as big as Oprah – bigger even- He uses God’s name, speaks the TRUTH about Jesus our Saviour, being the only way, TRUTH, and life. He is televised even!
AnnMarie Brown says
I am not an Oprah fan… respect what she has done and such but just not a fan. I do get what you are saying and why do people do that… I am not sure. I think people are afraid that they will be judged when that should be the last thing on their mind.
really good point Julie. I think celebrities have a harder time with this because they feel a need to be loved by the masses.
well I have a very strong faith and belief in Jesus but no, I don’t think that a message of being grateful needs to include Jesus to be relevant.
I think gratefulness is absolutely vital no matter what your faith is and can change your life.
That being said I see where you are coming from Julie- I do. You know I do.
But I actually think events like Life Class that are not faith-based really need to be “user-friendly” and that would mean leaving the door wide open for people of any and all faiths to feel comfortable in them.
The beauty of a gratitude message is that anyone can apply it. And of course those of us who believe in Jesus can apply our faith to that as well.
I always see it as an open door- everyone can and should be thankful for what they have… but not everyone would be willing to hear that message if it was couched in religious-talk if that makes any sense.
Personally I don’t shut down when people of other faiths speak- but that is sort of how I see secular messages as well. I think by not specifying where they draw their spiritual truths from they allow the listener to insert their own faith.
I think it is really cool that you go to be there :)
Faith is the foundation of everything I do or think. My faith in Jesus Christ influences every part of my life. I cannot imagine giving a speech on this topic and not say what I believe.
I think they didn’t speak on this because of the diverse group of people that listen to them, many with different faiths, but I’m like you in that if someone spoke of their faith it wouldn’t bother me, even if it went against what I believe. I am open-minded enough to know that not everyone believes the way I do. I can filter out the messages and find something good to take away from what is being presented just as you have done, but I really do think they should take a stand on what they believe and spoke up about it. Especially, T. D. Jakes.
I think they don’t want to take a stand on what they truly believe because their afraid it will upset someone or make someone mad and they might lose fans. I’m also sure that their publicity people and managers have a lot of influence over what they say and do. But I am shocked that Bishop T. D. Jakes didn’t speak of it. I don’t really listen to him, but you would think out of all of them he would have said something in reference to Jesus Christ. Wow, how could he not?
My faith is so interwoven into every area of my life that when the subject comes up on Faith, Salvation, God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit, I just say what I believe without trying to force feed someone else into believing the way I do. I really don’t worry to much how they will take it one way or another. I’m just careful not to push it down someone’s throat or argue if they disagree. I know that it’s not always what we say but how we say it or present it that can influence someone else for Jesus.
I don’t have a problem listening to someone else of a different faith. I am so strong in what I believe and know and in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ that I can take away something good from what is being presented or just completely ignore it. So if someone of a different Faith was speaking I would be able to respect our differences, so it wouldn’t bother me.
I look forward to reading more from you on the subject. Kim
I’d rather see someone LIVING their faith than talking about it.
Once they profess their faith, they invite in a lot of judgement. “Oh, that’s not a very Christian thing for her to do, now is it?”
If they simply LIVE it, then the rest will fall into place. That’s what *I* believe.
I agree that living your faith is important Ronni, otherwise you’re not actually reflecting or buying into are you? But I still wonder why we are apt to stop listening to someone if they state their spiritual foundation….but if they pretty it up and don’t state it we do?