One of the reasons I love to blog is to gain experience and to hear feed back from my writing. Part of what I struggle with though is the vain self promotion that comes along with the writing industry (or any industry for that matter!). If you record a album, you've got to promote online with advertising, social media, etc. If you run a business, you have to run campaigns and fight to get your name out there. Unfortunatly in the Christian publishing world and blogosphere, many adopt the same practices of vain self-promotion. The narcism and egotism I find deeply troubling. The idea of making much of myself tastes so bitter in my mouth. My desire is not to make much of Justin Deeter, but to make much of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, I know that I am unable to deliver any message broadly unless I am promoted. Even still, I find it very difficult to find a proper balance between the promotion of the message and the promotion of myself.
As I observe my Facebook news feed and read my twitter feed, I am deeply disturbed with the perpetual narcisitic comotion and buzz that people attempt to generate about themselves. For a Christian how do we balance righteous ambition with unrighteous self promotion? My mind goes to the book of Philippians where Paul writes,
"Some indeed proclaim Christ from rivarly and envy, but others from good will. The later do it out of love, knowing that I am put there for the defense of the Gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my improsment. What then? Only that in every way Christ is proclaimed and in that I rejoice."
There are a couple imediate observations from this text.
- Preaching the Gospel out of selfish ambition is not to be praised
- Preaching the Gospel in such a way to put down others is not to be praised.
- Despite people's bad motives in preaching the Gospel, the preaching of the Gospel is a great thing to be rejoiced in.
Although Paul praises God, rejoicing over the advancement of the Gospel, even by impure motives, he does not hold it up as a model to follow. Yes, there are those who proclaim the Gospel only seeking to advance themselves. However, Paul does care about their motives, but rejoices over the preaching of the Gospel despite of their motives. God can use the corrupt motives of men to still accomplish his divine purpose.
This is good news for me. So often as I examine the motives of my heart, my motivations are not always righteous. My ego, reputation, and success so often fuel my ministry to proclaim the Gospel. Yet, despite these condemnable motivations, God uses my corrupted motivations to spread the glorious gospel to the ends of the earth.
When I examine my writing and teaching mininstry, the heart of what God has gifted me to do, I know that it is not without its challenges. I pray that I will learn to "promote" not my own reputation but the reputation of Christ. I must decrease and he must increase. However, in a world with social media and vainity all around us, it is difficult to proclaim the Gospel message faithfully without bending knee to our idolatrous celebrit culture and seeking to become like a celebrity.
What are some practical tips we can promote the Gospel and not ourselves in our writing and in the content we produce? As I've wrestled with this topic, I present the following ways:
1. Don't Praise your Own Material or Beg for Compliments
This happens all the time. A tweet will go up saying agressively, "the best post I've ever written" or more passively "I don't think this is any good, but will you read it?" This is just plainly pride and seeking the praise of men. As we post stuff on social network sites we must not cleverly try to sell it with pride. This is one of the reasons I simply put up new posts with a simple formula which looks like this:
New Blog Post: Title, Link
This way it is more of an announcment than a sales pitch.
2. Do Not Post Only About You
When all you tweet about is yourself, your blog, your music, your family, your church, the message becomes clear. You are very in to yourself. When you are putting up five different posts a day about your latest project, then you've drifted into unbridled narcism. If all you are doing is self-promotion not only will you look like a prideful jerk, but your message will be hindered, because no one is going to want to hear from you.
3. Give More than You Get
Share, Share, and Share. The best way to not fall into the drivel of self-promotion is by sharing other people's materials. When you read a good blog post from a friend, share it! If your friend is taking some really cool photos, share them with others. When social networking, it is always better to give far beyond whatever you may get in return. Be generous in sharing others and it will be clear that you are not all about yourself.
4. Let Others Do Your Promotion
Rather than doing all your promotion yourself, let others who enjoy your content share it and promote it. Some of my most popular posts are not the ones I have heavily promote, but ones that others have promoted, shared, and spread around the internet. This is the key to growth of your message and it keeps you from selling your soul to the egocentrism of self promotion.
Promoting the message and not yourself is very difficult. I am still learning and trying to think through this issue. What are your thoughts? How can we promote our message and not seem like we are only promoting ourselves? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!