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July 16, 2010 / beidson

People Listen to Life: A Lesson Learned from Eminem

Eminem might be a better preacher than most you already know.  The reason is that he can tell a story and make it significant. He understands how to use the gravity of reality to weigh in on story-telling.  And for this reason he has made a lot of “disciples.”

I’m not a true fan of Eminem’s music.  I don’t own any of his material, and I can hardly recommend his music to anyone for entertainment value, although there is some value.  I disagree with his worldview and do not approve of his lifestyle, but I do agree with what he is saying throughout all of these: pain and suffering and achievement have a context; that is, they fit into a larger-than-life drama that includes us all.

When I hear him on the radio I usually find myself drawn into his story.  He talks a lot about his kids and his failures and fears, and about how hard his life has been, or at least, how hard it was.  He mentions his father a lot, or the absence of his father, and he talks about his mother’s disapproval and disbelief toward him.  Okay, so he’s had a hard life (but he has gotten rich off of talking about it).

Eminem is not a mentor to me and I don’t want to imitate his way of life.  But I do hope that I could tell the gospel story at least as compellingly as he tells his “gospel.”  He prods and provokes.  He shocks and questions.  He demands a response.  He taps into a reality that is broad enough to win the attention of millions of people.  And all of this with a message that offers no real hope, only empty promises.  Nevertheless, I think we could learn a lesson from Mr. Mathers: people listen to life.

So use your own life to tell the story of Jesus’ gospel.  It was never meant to be sterilized and divorced from experience.  If Jesus has loosed your tongue and redeemed your words from hell, then use them both now to lay a story on people’s minds and hearts that can’t easily be cast off.  Make them think.  Compel them to consider Christ.  Draw them into the grand, eternal drama of a crucified King, and describe with force the power that raised him from the dead and has done the same to you.  People will listen to your life.


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