Pastors, Tiger Woods and “Privacy”

February 19, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I have been rooting against Tiger Woods for about 13 years now.  I actively watch golf, especially the major championships.  I remember him winning his first Masters and many more tournaments since then.  Why would I root against him?  At some point I will blog about my philosophy about whom I root for and why.  For now, here are two of the top principles on the list.  I do not root for the person or team that wins all the time.  I do not root for whom the media tells me I should be.  Suffice to say, if you are over-hyped and win a lot, you can imagine that I will root against you and your team.   I say all of that, because most of my friends know this and will think that this post comes from that.  It does not.

I am struck by the calls from Tiger’s defenders and Tiger himself for his desire and right for privacy.  Even listening to the radio this morning, Bob Steele on KARN was getting lambasted for even talking about it.  “This is a private matter.”  “This is between him and his wife.”  “This isn’t even news.” 

I understand some of that, I suppose.  But I look at this from a completely different angle.  I know what it is like to be a public figure.  Nowhere near to the degree that Tiger Woods does, of course.  But on a much smaller scale, I do know.  All pastors know what I am talking about.  People always recognize you.  People recognize you and you don’t know who they are.  Those same people are always watching everything.  “What is he doing over there, sitting at McDonalds on his computer?”

Do I deserve privacy?  Do I deserve to be able to walk around Wal-Mart anonymously?  Do I deserve the right to have a life that is private?  What right do people have to know what is going on in my life?   With my wife, Heidi?  With my daughters, Maylee and Lauren who are 12 and 9 and are prominently pictured on the front page of my website?  Do people have the right to critique my parenting skills about which I blog on a regular basis and use to encourage other people?  (Hopefully, you by now, see the ridiculous way this is going)

I gave up the right to anonymity when I made the choice to enter a profession that put me in the public view.  I give it up even more when I talk about my life in a sermon.  I give it up further when I publish parts of my life and then post links encouraging people to read what I have written.  My livelihood depends on my reputation.

So what happens when a celebrity, sports figure, or pastor fails?  Do we get to invoke the privacy card?  The very same reputation that I need to have to do what I do is now gone.  Is it unfair that people would judge me?  Celebrities, sports figures, and yes pastors don’t seem to mind as long as they hear the cheers and cash the checks, but when it turns…?

Are we a celebrity-obsessed culture?  Yes.  Do we have too high of expectations of the sports figures we love?  Yes.  Do most pastors live in an unhealthy fishbowl also with unreasonable expectations?  Yes.  However, the time to complain about it is not when it starts working against us.  If this is not what we want, get out.  Better yet, don’t fail.  Be in your private life who you say you are in your public life. 

(That’s good advice, even if you are not a celebrity, sports figure or pastor)

****addendum, post Tiger’s prepared statement

There was a lot in that statement.  As a public speaker, I analyze things very differently.  He is not a great public speaker, so it would be unfair to read too much into his inflection, tone, body language, etc.  I am tempted to say a lot here, but I want to keep it on the topic addressed in the post. 

He did not make a desperate appeal for his own privacy, which is good.  He did make a passionate appeal for the privacy of his family.  Again, not reading too much into his tone, his appeal was angry.  Humble would have been better.  “I have failed, they don’t deserve this.  Please, leave them alone.  Harass me, but please give them some space.  They need that.”  He is right in saying that he has protected them from the public eye, mostly.  They are a part of his image, and he did bring them out.  He is their protector and defender.  He brought them into the spotlight, and it his responsibility to protect them.  Every paparazzi picture and salacious article is his fault, fair or not.  Now, humbly ask for help and support from the media.  Then we will turn against the media, and this can die slowly.

  I give the whole thing a C+,kinda what I expected.


7 Responses to “Pastors, Tiger Woods and “Privacy””
  1. Larry says:

    I think your last statement is most important – “Be in your private life who you say you are in your public life.” In modern times the concern for privacy has become synonymous with masking sinful or unacceptable behavior. Every time people do something that they don’t want others to find out about, they start screaming about privacy rights. It is a smoke screen.

    The truth is that character matters – it always has and always will. Somehow, we think that if a person is a great politician, lawyer, doctor, musician, whatever – then that somehow gives them a pass on the rest of their life. Character matters – in sports “heroes” (which is why I never encouraged my kids to idolize them) and especially in full-time ministry. My wife and I both do genealogy, and you would be surprised at not only how much “stuff’ you find out about ancestors, but how vehemently many of the living people don’t want you to find it out. The fact that someone had five divorces or committed a murder or whatever is just that – a fact. The best solution to people not finding out is to not do it in the first place.

    My grandmother used to say that “if your not up to no good then you don’t have to worry about what people find out.”

    On a side note, I do think that stories like Tiger Woods shouldn’t be incessantly played out in the media. It basically turns the media, and those of us who watch all of that stuff, into gossip mongers…and we know what the Bible says about gossip.

    Good post btw…..

  2. Megan says:

    So many want to be rich and famous, but few realize just how hard it is to live life–mistakes and all–under the microscope of fame. I do not excuse Tiger’s actions by any means, but I do feel sorry that he has to live out his worst days for all the world to see. I can’t imagine having to give a public account for any of my private failures.

    It’s easy to condemn him, shaking our heads, and separate ourselves from “that” kind of sin when we think of him as an untouchable famous person, but when you strip all of that away, he’s just like you and me–in need of the same gift of grace and salvation as all of us.

  3. cloften says:

    The conversation continues here:

    Please read some very insightful thoughts from my friend Megan.

  4. Tim says:

    Good word about the missing element of humility. We are a forgiving culture when humility is shown. True about pastors and public eye. Good post.

  5. Naomi Bratton says:

    Tiger’s wife and children don’t deserve all the trash talking, but call me hardhearted because I think he deserves it all and more. Maybe it would be easier to swallow if he wasn’t cashing in to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly predicated on him being such a “good guy” in the sports world. I believe that he only went to sex rehab as a smoke screen, because now we have to talk about him having a “disease” instead of just being a jerk who got caught. All that aside, the only one’s forgiveness he needs is God’s.

  6. Bryan says:

    Jason Pederson made a great comment on the radio today (103.7, the Zone) about Tiger’s defintion of character versus a proper defintion. Tiger defined character as not what you do, but what you overcome. Jason wisely pointed out that this simply requires some to mess up really bad, dig a deep hole and the only way out is up and that would qualify as character. Instead how about not dig the hole in the first place.

    Also, I’m really torn on the whole delivery aspect. Watching him, I just don’t believe him. I want to. I want to see someone truely change and get better. However, there is just something about his very stiff and rehearsed delivery that does not allow me to really buy in. I know not everyone is a great speaker, but measure this speech against all his other press conferences and speeches when he opens some foundation or teaching clinic. He has some personality and charisma, it just didn’t happen today (and I don’t know what to do with that).

  7. Aaron Reddin says:

    If you want privacy, play golf as a hobby. If you want privacy, go preach the gospel in prisons or shelters. If you don’t want your every move seen and scrutinized, then you have to decide which you want more. Fame and money, or fun and privacy.

    Should they have a “right” to some privacy? Sure. But everyone knows that if you are well known, so is your business.

    If your business is dirty, golf a preach as a hobby. ;)

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