I had a few discussions this past week with people who are concerned about writing a book or stepping out into other ministry because they may be promoting themselves rather than the Lord. They are worried (yes, worried) that they will get ahead of the Lord, or somehow do something that does bring God glory, but glory only to self. Those are legitimate concerns, but all based and rooted in fear, and we know that God has not given us a spirit of fear.
About five years ago, I did a series title “Self Promotion,” so I thought it would be good to revisit that topic in light of the concerns that my friends have recently raise. It’s an issue I have pondered for a long time, since I have been accused of being self-promoting from time to tome. I will need your help as we examine this issue, however, and I ask you to respond with your own thoughts (whether you agree or disagree) once you have read what I have to say.
The main concern with self-promotion is best summarized in Philippians 2:3, where Paul wrote: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Many conclude talking about yourself in almost any situation is wrong or at least improper, and ambition is also considered to be in bad taste or downright evil. Are these interpretations correct?
Here are some thoughts off the top of my head for this week’s discussion.
- When Paul wrote his letters, he clearly identified himself as an apostle.
- David approached Goliath and declared what he was going to do to the giant in no uncertain terms.
- Jesus made many claims, although sometimes veiled to hide them from unbelievers, concerning who He was and what He had come to do
Let’s examine that last point a little more.
Jesus’ family thought he was self-promoting and eager for to be a public figure as you can see from John 7:3-4: Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” It’s comforting to know that Jesus’ family thought He was self-promoting, and to some extent He was – promoting that is, but without self and with a purpose. Is that possible for you and I to do?
Weren’t Jesus’ miracles a means by which He could gather a crowd to announce the coming of His kingdom? Did not the Father make Jesus a household name and a celebrity in all of Israel? Did Jesus gather disciples whom He then sent out to extend His work and announce God’s plan with even greater intensity that He did?
We are not going to settle this issue this week, but I wanted to start the dialogue with these thoughts. What do you think? Is it wrong to promote yourself? When, if ever, is it permissible? Does Philippians 2:3 prohibit any kind of ambition or marketing? I leave you to ponder these questions until next week. Till then, have a blessed week!