I want to share a telling quote with you from the king of shock jocks, Howard Stern. In a wide-ranging interview with Rolling Stone’s Neil Strauss this week, the incredibly raunchy Stern admitted to being addicted to the approval of other people:
“The curse is I take it so seriously. I gotta know, do you think I did a good show and are you satisfied? That’s the neurosis and that’s the source of all problems for me.”
Stern’s bold admission reminds me of a powerful chapter from Dr. Tim Keller’s excellent book, Counterfeit Gods. In “The Seduction of Success,” Keller reflected on this rising culture of competition, as well as our chronic and seemingly insatiable appetite for approval and applause:
The human heart’s desire for a particular valuable object (human affirmation) may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable. How can we break our heart’s fixation on doing “some great thing” in order to heal ourselves of our sense of inadequacy, in order to give our lives meaning? Only when we see what Jesus, our great Suffering Servant, has done for us will we finally understand why God’s salvation does not require us to do “some great thing.” We don’t have to do it, because Jesus has.
I can only speculate where Howard Stern is on matters of faith. He has spoken very critically and disparagingly of Focus and, especially, our Super Bowl advertisement two years ago. How much of his “shtick” is an act versus true belief is impossible to measure.
But regardless of his faith or lack thereof, I do know where Howard Stern is concerning his need for affirmation. In that regard, he is suffering from what we’re all suffering from: a need to be liked and a craving to know that he’s accepted, not for what he’s done, but for who he is – a person made in the image and likeness of a living and loving God.
(Incidentally, several years ago, Stern invited a Christian minister on his show to field questions. Clearly the pastor was there to be mocked. Nevertheless, the courageous guest accepted the challenge. Afterwards he said he received over 3,000 emails, 40% of which were negative and hate filled. Still, more than 1,800 individuals wrote to request prayer and counsel. Talk about outreach!)
Since the Fall in the Garden, the human heart has always sought approval in the wrong people, places and things. In fact, many of us will do almost anything for it – whether it’s lie, cheat, gossip, manipulate, steal or even murder. I don’t listen to Howard Stern – but his observation about his addiction is worth listening to – because it bespeaks of the sinful nature of man. Ironically, Howard Stern is admitting to what many of us believers will not.
It is only Christ who can tame and reign in this runaway spirit of worldly desire. It is only by Him that we can truly satisfy and heal our broken hearts.