The gospel according to Michael Jackson

And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.   Luke 16:8  (NLT)
This past week I finally had an opportunity to watch the DVD of the movie, “This Is It.”  It is the documentary of Michael Jackson’s preparation for a London concert series during the last months before he died.  It was a poignant portrait of a creative genius working at his craft. 
Michael Jackson & Producer Kenny Ortega

Although I do not endorse his questionable and controversial lifestyle I can honestly say I was deeply impressed with the qualities the man displayed in this behind the scenes look at his professional life.  As I watched Jackson’s interaction with the cast members, the musical director and the producer I felt the Lord nudge me as if to say, “Watch, I want to teach you something from this.”  And so in that spirit I want to share three significant take-ways from the film that are worth noting. 

 1.  Creativity at it’s best removes the limitations of critical judgment, finances and past experience.  It amazed me how Michael Jackson surrounded himself with the best creative people in the world and then encouraged them to engage with him in what he called “creative jousting.”  Those working with him commented how the interaction he fostered always had a way of making them better at their craft as well as contributing to an even better finished product.   

The cost of things never seemed to be a consideration as they sought to expand the boundaries of what had been done in the past.  They literally broke the mold for everything they did while exploring new frontiers.  From Michael’s wardrobe and the Light Man entrance onstage to his exit on MJ Air at the end of the concert they employed the latest cutting edge technology available in blending 3D video with robotics and real time staging.  

2.  An attitude of love and mutual respect permeated the production.  It was a direct result of the loving respectful demeanor of Michael Jackson himself.  We see Michael in the film giving corrective input to the musicians and tech people and always couching it in love.  Repeatedly we hear him say “with the love. L-O-V-E” as he spells out the word with his hand. 

The shows producer Kenny Ortega says in an interview “You really came to appreciate his kindness and his sweetness and his generosity and the wonderful collaborative spirit that he was about and the way that he worked with people, never wanting to offend anyone.”  

3. Michael Jackson’s acknowledgement of his incredible gifting as a stewardship from God literally blew me away.  We all should have such a responsible attitude about the talents God has given us.  In the Special Features section of the DVD there is interchange between Michael Jackson and his musical director Michael Bearden.    

Jackson:  “Bearde, you know what our name (Michael) means?  Well, our name means one who is most like God.”  At that Bearden shook his head triumphantly and a cocky smile broke across his face.  But Jackson was quick to stop him, “no, no, no, we got to be humble. We gotta be humble.” 

Bearden could see Jackson sobering. “I am humble MJ. Why are you so serious about this?” 

Jackson:  “Well, I don’t want God to take our gifts away.” 

Bearden shook his head, “I don’t think that’s going to happen. And I think your gifts are greater than mine.” 

Jackson was heated, “no, no, no, don’t say that. Don’t say that.” 

 “Well, why MJ?”  “Because you’re here with me and I’m here with you. And we have to use our gifts together to help people figure out what their gifts are.” 

If you have seen this movie I would be interested in your impressions.  What reaction did you have to what you saw and heard?

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3 thoughts on “The gospel according to Michael Jackson”

  1. I haven’t seen this film yet, but it’s on my list. I appreciate the way you approached it with a ‘this might teach me something’ attitude. Congrats on the new site, Tom!

  2. Hi Tom! Excellent insight into this film. I too saw it and was blown away by his quiet, sweet way. He was so talented and he communicated so effectively. The way he LOVES music and art was so moving. I really expected to dislike the film, thinking it was just a way they wanted to recoup lost money but walked away with a sense of awe. It is hard to watch such a gifted person struggle so much with himself, the way he changed his face, the way he secluded himself. Understandable, but a terrible tragedy.

    AWESOME blog!

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