Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wary and Weary of Self-Promotion

A good friend jokingly asked me the other day, "So, did I hear that you wrote a book?"

He was gently making of fun of how my blog and Facebook are filled up with a steady stream of announcements about a certain book which won't be linked to in this post.

I take his point. My life (at least online and a good deal offline) has been consumed with getting the word out about that certain book which won't be linked to in this post.

I'm wary of self-promotion. Proverbs 27:2 says, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips."  And it's not good enough to say, "I'm just passing on what someone else said about me." There are many dangers inherent in tooting your own horn, not the least of which is overweening pride, a deadly sin that kills relationships with both God and people.

On the other hand, I'm very excited about the message about that certain book which won't be linked to in this post and want others to be blessed by it. This article by Mary Keely on a better approach was very helpful to me in giving me a good perspective on the right motivation for "marketing." [Owen Strachan had some good things to say about "re-tweeting" oneself, as well.]

But on the third hand, I'm very aware of my tendency to justify whatever it is that I want to be doing. So, I continue to watch my heart in this area and maintain a careful wariness of my motives and actions. For example, I try to focus on promoting the book and not its author, though the two are inextricably linked, of course. I also remind myself regularly to not believe my own press clippings and never take myself seriously. My wife helps me with this by calling me "Dr. Fathead."

And on the fourth hand (What am I, an octopus?), I'm also weary of self-promotion--both in others and myself. Nobody enjoys a proud person who is self-focused. I don't want to be Narcissus--what a useless bore! I want to be a humble person who serves the people around me. If I become convinced that my posts about that certain book which won't be linked to in this post have stopped serving others, then I'll close up shop right then and there.

One of the reasons why I mention this today is that I'm headed into a busy week of promotion for that book that won't be linked to in this post, and I'll soon be even asking you readers to help me get the word out about that certain book that won't be linked to in this post, and I want you to know why it's important to me. It's not because I'll get rich or famous. It's because I care about what God has said about the topic of the book and believe God has graciously given me something helpful to say about it to bless other people.

I don't pretend to have it all figured out, but I do know that I want the Lord Jesus Christ to get the real promotion and all the glory.


Thanks for writing this Matt, it reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" that discusses humility. It's always been a huge help to me when I start thinking of humility in the negative terms described below:

"You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible."

It's fine to acknowledge the gifts we've been given by God, whether it's knowing how to fix a car or speaking comfortably in front of a classroom or writing a book that will help lots of people, and it can be a good thing when we're keeping in mind the One from whom our gifts come. Shy and humble are not synonymous.