Against Clout Chasing

Against Clout Chasing

Against Clout Chasing

In the search for fame, popularity, and affirmation, many people have flung off all moral restraints, putting the lives and welfare of others on the line. We have seen people falsely accuse others of rape. The other day we saw a lady who faked her own kidnap; before that, there was another lady who falsely claimed she was being molested by some guys in an apartment. What about those who slander popular persons in a bid to get attention and gain the limelight? 

And we have another set of people who seek to be moral deviants in a bid to be popular. As moral decadence deepens, people have to plump new depths of immorality to be known and distinguished.

As I read two stories in 2 Samuel this week, it reminded me of the futility and irresponsibility of clout chasing. In this article, I want to highlight these two stories and also identify the moral problems that clout chasing creates. 

Impressing David went wrong

The first story is in 2 Samuel 1. When David was in Ziklag, after defeating the Amalekites, a man came to him to report how the Israelite army was defeated. Saul and Jonathan had also died in the war. In response to David’s inquiry about how they died, the man told a false story of how he was the one that killed Saul and took his crown. 

He did this because Saul had made David his number 1 enemy and he thought that David would be so happy with the man who finally got rid of his “enemy.” He didn’t know that David himself had two opportunities to kill Saul but didn’t because Saul was God’s anointed. 

Instead of praise and encomium, David instructed his men to kill the man for not being afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed. 

From 1 Samuel 31, we know that Saul killed himself after his armour-bearer refused to kill him. Therefore, it is obvious that this man told this contrived story in a bid to get in the good books of David and become famous as the one who killed the number 1 enemy of the new King. In modern parlance, he was chasing clout. 

However, instead of fame and wealth, he lost his life. 

We see a similar story in 2 Samuel 4. There, we find Baanah and Rekab, leaders of raiding bands in Israel who knew Ish-Bosheth, Saul’s son, who was trying to compete with David for the throne in Israel. These men connived to kill Ish-Bosheth in his house, cutting off his head. 

Their first action after this was to travel all night to Hebron to show David Ish-Bosheth’s head. They thought David would confer fame, honour, and wealth on them as those who murdered his rival to the throne and gave him a free ride to the kingship of all Israel. 

But they were disappointed, as was the man in chapter 1. David told them the story of the man in chapter 1. In his words, “I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news” (2 Samuel 4:10). In a similar fashion, David ordered the death of these two evil men who were chasing clout. 

In the first story, we see a man who lied in a bid to become popular and rich, and in the second story, we see two men who actually carried out an evil and horrendous act in a bid to become popular and rich. All of them flung off moral restraints for the sake of fame. They chased clout. But they neither got the popularity nor wealth; instead, they lost their lives. 

The problem with clout chasing  

How false victim claims destroy others

The problem with false victim claims is that they put actual future victims in danger. How so? 

When people respond to a kidnap or sexual assault alarm and they find out it’s fake, it reduces the tendency that they will respond to another one in the future. The more fake claims they encounter, the more their minds are trained to suspect every new claim.

By the time an actual case of kidnapping or sexual assault is reported, they will think it is another false alarm. Consequently, they will not approach it with the same candor as they approached the first or second cases that turned out to be clout-chasing ventures.

In essence, every fake victim claim reduces the possibility that the next actual victim will get the help they need, at least from the same channel that the clout chasers have used. 

We saw an example of this when a doctor inside a train that was being attacked posted a request for help on Twitter. Because many have been inundated with such requests which later turned out to be clout chasing, they treated this fresh request with suspicion. It turned out that this particular request was genuine. And the doctor lost her life. 

While many people scapegoated those that suspected the doctor’s claim, it was a missed opportunity to see the evil results of clout chasing. Substitute kidnapping for any other vice and you can see how clout chasing can indirectly lead to the death of another person. 

How can we love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39) when we put their lives in danger because we are chasing fame and popularity by claiming to be victims when we are not? Is this not the very opposite of love? If many of us think of the long-term and indirect impacts of our actions on our neighbors, we’ll surely be more conscious of what we do in the name of clout chasing. 

The evil of slander

Bearing false witness or slandering people is a popular sin that the Scriptures condemn. The ninth of the Ten Commandments was directed against false testimony (Exodus 20:16). The Mosaic law took this issue of false testimony so seriously. In Deuteronomy 19:16-21,  it mandated that false witnesses should be subject to the same judgments that would have been suffered by the person that was slandered: “do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party” (verse 19). 

In the Psalms, we see that slander was the primary means through which David’s enemies fought against him (Psalms 31, 41 54). The Psalmists declare their hatred for slander in many places (Psalms 50:20, 101:5, 140:11). 

Qoheleth called slanderers fools (Proverbs 10:18) and declared that the Lord detests lying lips (Proverbs 12:22). In fact, the condemnation of lying lips is a key theme that runs through Proverbs. 

NT authors also condemn slander (Ephesians 4:31, 1 Corinthians 6:10), lying (1 Timothy 1:10, Revelation 21:8) and false witness/testimony (Matthew 15:19). 

How can we obey the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) when we intentionally destroy other people’s reputations and put them in unsavoury situations that can ruin them? If the tables were turned, would we be happy to be in the same situation? Knowing how everyone in today’s world is eager to find a scapegoat, how can we derive any comfort from giving innocent people over to the wolves in a bid for us to seek some glory? Would we be happy if the reputation and success we have built over the years were thrown into the bin because some boy or girl chasing fame lied against us?

Bringing others down to get up

Bringing others down to get up is evil and people perpetuate this evil through other means apart from slanders. We scheme to bring those above us down so we can replace them. As James said, we quarrel, fight, and kill to get what we want (James 4:1-3). Of course, these quarrelings, fightings, and killings are not victimless. We want fame, glory, and wealth and we don’t mind who we have to destroy (or what we have to use to destroy them) to get there.  

But this is contrary to biblical ethics. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,” wrote Paul. “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3). 

Christian ethics requires that we act not out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but to humbly serve others, considering them above ourselves. Moreso, we are to consider the interests of others instead of being obsessed with ours. Our neighbours are not ladders that we have to climb towards success, fame, and wealth, they are fellow image bearers that we have to support as we each climb our different ladders. 

This is why the second great commandment is to love our neighbours as ourselves. If we will not destroy ourselves so another person can advance, then we must not destroy others so that we can advance. That is what it means to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. 

“I will make your name great”

In the end, clout chasing is all about making a name for ourselves. We want to be important people, known and spoken of by others, and we think anything is fair game to achieve that. 

We are like the nations in Shinar who attempted to build a tower that will reach the heavens so they could “make a name” for themselves (Genesis 11:4). Instead of scattering over the face of the earth, in fulfilment of the creation mandate (Genesis 2:28), they were all in one place.

This attempt by men to make a name for themselves is the foil to God’s promise to make Abraham’s name great (Genesis 12:2). Abraham left the glory of his country, people, and father’s household to become a commoner in an unknown country. Yet, this was God’s will for him. Abraham did not need to worry about building a name for himself, God would sort that out. And he did. 

When David finished building his palace, he was disturbed that the ark of God was still dwelling in a tent while he had a beautiful palace for himself. He then proposed building a temple for God. Though his zeal was commendable, this was not God’s plan. Instead of David building a house for God, he would build a house (dynasty) for David. God’s plan for David was to make his name great like the names of the greatest men on earth (2 Samuel 7:9). 

For David and Abraham, their duty was to obey God and do his will. It was God’s duty to make a name for them. They were to bother themselves with keeping the covenant while God made a name for them. 

In essence, they didn’t need to chase clout in a bid to become famous, distinguished, and wealthy. God would see to how successful or popular they became in their generation.

Instead of worrying about how popular, successful, and wealthy we are, we should be focusing on fulfilling God’s calling on our lives through our vocations and using our gifts to his glory and for the good of our neighbours. 

Infact, Peter admonishes us to humble ourselves because “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5). In other words, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (verse 6). God is the one who lifts men up and he does it “in due time.” Also, it is those who are humble that he lifts up, not those who are lifted up in their own hearts and believe that the world should revolve around them. As the Psalmist said, “Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar” (Psalms 138:6).

It’s God’s decision whether he wants us to be popular, successful, or wealthy, and to what extent. So, instead of chasing clout, we should be chasing faithfulness to the one who is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17) and doing everything to honour and glorify him. This means that instead of worrying about fame and wealth and doing evil things to get them, our foremost concern is whether we are doing everything to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).


Clout chasing is a violation of the command to love our neighbour. Love requires that we don’t put others in danger by preventing them from getting the help they need. It also requires that we don’t destroy other people for our own benefit either by lying or by other evil means.

Positively, love requires that we consider the interest of others and not be self consumed, shunning envy, vain conceit, and selfish ambition.   It also requires that we focus on glorifying God through our duties and gifts and leave the results in God’s hands. Rather than seeking to make a name for ourselves, we must leave our names with him so he can make them as he wants.

Teach me, my God and King,

in all things Thee to see,

and what I do in anything,

to do it as for Thee.

To scorn the senses’ sway,

while still to Thee I tend;

in all I do be Thou the Way,

in all be Thou the End.

All may of Thee partake;

nothing so small can be,

but draws, when acted for Thy sake,

greatness and worth from Thee.

If done t’obey Thy laws,

e’en servile labors shine;

hallowed is toil, if this the cause,

the meanest work divine.

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