By Paul Koch –
Hold this drink for a second while I climb up on my soap box. Thanks.
We’ve all done it. I know I’ve done it more than my fair share, but I’m trying to stop. You see, I’ve grown increasingly more hostile to the whole notion driving the phenomena. I’m developing a sort of repulsive reaction to it that fills me with a desire to punch the perpetrator in the mouth. Like some twisted and weak version of the argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to authority, not quite like using Latin to look smart, but close), we have grown accustomed to dropping names.
I would like to author a paragraph that simply makes the bold assertion that name dropping is what hollow-chested men do. It is the sort of thing that marks a coward or a weak man who needs to use the fame or personality of someone else to either heighten their own standing among peers or try to lower everyone else because their lack of association with the name that is dropped. It is a despicable and slimy way to assert importance in a conversation, and we should simply begin to publicly shame them for their attempts. But that paragraph would be a bit harsh and probably not all that well thought out. Instead, let’s examine just what is involved in name dropping.
Name dropping depends on an understood social hierarchy. If I want to raise my social status, I drop the name of one who is understood by all involved to have a higher place. I practiced this just yesterday with my wife (it didn’t work, by the way). We had taken our daughter to Universal Studios for her birthday, and we were going to go watch the live-action Waterworld show. The reality, though, was that my daughter had never seen Waterworld, so my wife and I began to explain the main plot line when I said, “The hero was played by Kevin Costner. Kevin Costner went to Buena High school. That’s right, the hero of Waterworld went to the same high school as I did!” I kept repeating that line to try to drive home the point that I was certainly worthy of some more recognition because I went to the same high school as Kevin Costner, whose brilliant acting inspired the live-action show we were about to watch.
Now, we weren’t in the same class (he’s actually twenty years older than me), we have never met, and I don’t even know if he went there all four years, but that is of no concern to a name dropper. You just drop the name and use its influence to improve your own. It doesn’t take much courage to drop a name. It doesn’t require you to add anything substantive to the conversation. It is simply a cheap and easy way to elevate yourself.
However, what does take courage and personal risk is to drop the mic. Dropping the mic is the exact opposite of dropping a name. The idea is to make a point so clear and decisive that there is no need for a response. It is Kobe Bryant after scoring sixty points in the last game of his career, saying, “Mamba out” and dropping the mic in center court. It takes a certain amount of boldness to dare do that. You can’t hide behind someone else. You can’t elevate yourself by another’s status if you just drop the mic and take your lumps as they come.
When we move this conversation to the Church, the importance of the mic drop becomes even more clear. After all, proclamation at its core is a mic-dropping moment. It isn’t to drop names to look impressive or elevate your social status; it is to do something that is so decisive there is no arguing, only receiving or rejecting. To proclaim Christ crucified is to kill and bring forth life by the power of the Word alone. It is the ultimate mic drop.
There is boldness inherent in this, and that boldness is a beautiful thing. We learn what it is to make a stand from proclamation: to speak decisively and not have to hide behind the social status of another. When you speak, speak boldly. Remember how you proclaim Christ to your children, your neighbor, your coworker, or friend. And for the love of all things good and precious in this world, stop dropping names!
In the end, it will make you a better person all around. And I ought to know. I went to the same high school as the hero in Waterworld: Kevin Costner.