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Don Hughes
and Gabriel Hughes

CEO Great Plains Christian Radio

Lessons of Einstein

 

 

One Sunday morning, when we still had young kids at home, I got everyone up for church and gave them the option of going to our regular church or they could travel with me to another church where I would be filling the pulpit.  My son Jesse asked, “What sermon will you be delivering?”  Even at the age of seven he had figured out that I had a select few messages.  After all, since I don’t speak in the same church every Sunday, I can use messages several times.  I asked him if there was one he preferred.  He mentioned a particular sermon and said he would not go if I did that one again as he had grown tired of it.  Don’t you love the honesty of children?  I promised I would not do that sermon again, and he went with his Dad.

Since I fill the pulpit and use short items on the air, I am always looking for good stories to tell as illustration.  Here is an interesting story about Albert Einstein I came across that has a great application for us in broadcasting.  It seems that Einstein’s chauffeur was much like my son, Jesse, in that he had heard Einstein speak so often he had the lectures memorized.  On one trip, Einstein mentioned that he really didn’t feel like speaking that evening.  The chauffeur said he knew the lecture so well that he could deliver it himself.  Einstein at the time was not yet so world-renowned, and without the advent of television or the internet, people were not familiar with Einstein’s appearance.  So, the two swapped places. 

The chauffeur did a superb job with the lecture.  However, at the conclusion, one young man stood and asked for the opportunity for a question.  The chauffeur boldly granted the request hoping it was something he absorbed from another of Einstein's lectures.  This was not the case, and upon hearing the question he didn't know the answer to, the quick witted chauffeur said, “Why, that question is so simple my chauffeur can answer that.”

Apply this to broadcasting.  People desire consistency, so the listeners know they can turn the radio on and hear their favorite music and get the latest news and weather and maybe a little entertainment.  But do we become so predictable that our chauffeur could do the program for us?  If any of us had a job that would provide a chauffeur, that is.  What we do have are listeners driving their vehicles with the radio along for the ride.  In that way, we have many thousands of chauffeurs!  If we become too predictable, they will just let us out of the car and pick up a different rider.

Ah, but this little analogy has a catch.  I found the story of Einstein and his chauffeur in an article about the early twentieth century genius.  Before I used it, I thought I would check the source.  I simply went to Snopes.com and learned that variations of the story had been circulating for a long time, sometimes involving a different famous individual other than Albert Einstein.  The story sounded nice and fun, but it is very doubtful it ever occurred. 

Here's another way to look at this anecdote: Have we become so typical on the air that what we are saying might not even be real?  This is just the routine.  It's your job.  Your heart really isn't in your airshift, your programming, the music, etc.  What the listeners are hearing might sound nice and fun on the surface, but from your side of the microphone, it isn't real.  You've checked out, and you're just going through the motions.  You're fooling your listeners, and what they are getting isn't the real heart of the message of Christ.  They're not getting the Holy Spirit working through you to impact someone over the airwaves.  Maybe the listeners would never be able to put their finger on it, but something about what they're listening to just isn't coming across quite right.

Part of our job in Christian radio isn't just that we work our hours or keep the ratings up.  It is our job to be ambassadors for Christ.  That's something the secular world of radio doesn't have to consider.  Hey, it doesn't matter if they come in and their mind checks out.  As long as the numbers look alright, it's all good.  We have a higher calling than that, and a greater responsibility.  It is as important that we be in the Spirit as it is that we give the Spirit to our listeners.

Just as the first part of this analogy eluded to, we need to escape the routine and remain innovative and fresh.  Yes, we do.  But Christian broadcasting needs more than just fresh and new ideas.  We need a re-freshened and renewed spirit to do it with.  Chip Ingram speaks often about what it means to be a "Romans 12 Christian."  We must constantly be renewing our minds, as it says in Romans 12:2, to remain new and fresh in the Spirit of God.

Solomon put it this way in Ecclesiastes 1:9 -- "That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun."  There is an abundance of wisdom and ideas that have been used before.  Use your creativity to repackage old ideas if you are a little short with new ones.  But don't forget that God's compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).  Remember that we are feeding our listeners with fruit of the Spirit, more wholesome and of better taste than the junk food the world is giving them.  So keep it fresh.  Make it real.  Then your chauffeur will know they are driving with the very best.


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Bio:  Don Hughes has worked in broadcasting for 41 years.  He established Great Plains Christian Radio’s first station KJIL in 1992.  They have now grown to eight full power stations and forty translators. Don Hughes can be reached at don@kjil.com

Gabriel learned broadcasting from his Dad and eventually served as Director of Operations at their Abilene station.  Gabriel recently accepted a position as Music Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Junction City, KS and will soon be ordained.