If I showed up on your door step with a hundred pounds of ribeye steaks, already thawed—need to be used today or they go bad—would you feel immoral about calling your friends and asking them to come and eat some steak?
Would it be immoral to promote among your friends the fact that you had some steaks to share?
There are lots of reasons that Christians struggle with a call to write. One of the common ones that I hear is difficulty squaring the idea of promoting their work with proper Christ-like humility.
Is self-promotion appropriate for Christians?
I think there’s a lot to be said on the idea of “self-promotion,” but I want to challenge this from its own premise today.
So that we’re on the same page, “marketing” is communicating in a way that someone is persuaded or inspired to take an action. That action could be anything—buy a product, vote for a candidate, attend an event, wear their seatbelt.
Traditionally, we think of marketing as touting the superior benefits of a product. Today I want to suggest to you that effective “marketing” can actually be relationship-building. If we choose a Kingdom paradigm, marketing is sharing God’s gift with an increasing circle of friends.
Our writers who commit themselves to our program find that they have lots of relationships, some strong and some weak, among an ever-increasing circle of friends.
Rather than saying, “I’m the greatest, look at me,” they spend their time with a heart that says, “God has given me something nice, would you like to come and share it with me?” If that’s true—God has given it, and it’s nice—people come.
Over time, those relationships grow. It’s a little bit odd really—people you’ve never met really feel like they know you. They’re also receptive to your influence.
Those relationships become recipients of the gifts God is giving to the world through you.
However, in order for this to work, two conditions must be true.
- We must believe that our gift originates with Jesus. He is the source.
- We must believe that the gift He’s given us is really nice and worth sharing.
If we believe our ability originates within ourselves, we run the risk of prideful self-promotion, because we’re ultimately promoting our self.
If we do not believe that the gift God has given us is worth sharing, then we will run the risk of inauthentic and deceptive promotion—propping something up for a sale. Or more likely—we’ll feel awkward and never promote anything at all, thus stifling the gift we were given to share.
When we truly hold both of these tenets in faith, then we’re no longer promoting ourselves, we are promoting Jesus. We are simply a vessel, a conduit of a gift God has for others.
Evangelism is a type of marketing—communicating in such a way as to persuade or inspire someone to take an action.
We can evangelize from an improper heart—needing to be validated or to have others admit our rightness.
Or we can evangelize from the Father’s heart, recognizing that we are simply a conduit of a good gift the Father has.
Salvation is of course God’s greatest gift for humanity, but it’s not His only gift. (James 1:17)
Jesus said something interesting, as recorded in Luke 16:9. He said, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
If God has gifted you with a talent, a skill, a resource, or any kind of gift, it is there for you to share for His glory. It is there for you to give until it is gone. That won’t happen if you hide it under a bushel basket of false humility.
Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) You shine, God gets the glory—that’s the Kingdom model.
If you found yourself with a box of steaks that had to be used, of course you’d tell your friends! You’d have a party and hope that they all get put to good use. Those steaks didn’t belong to you yesterday, and you can’t save them for tomorrow, you have to give them away, and the only way to do that is to tell someone, and hope they tell someone else!
When your friends show up, will you take credit for your own generosity, or will you pass the glory on to the founder of the feast, the one who provided the meal? If they are grateful to you for hosting the gift nonetheless, there is no sin or shame in that.
Do you believe that the talent that God has seeded in you is at least as valuable as a box of steaks? Then let’s act accordingly.
Should we be concerned about vain self-promotion? Certainly! But we should also be equally as concerned about not putting the talents God has given us to use, lest we hear, “You wicked and slothful servant!” and be cast into the darkness. (Matthew 25:26)
Marketing isn’t about puffing yourself up, it’s about sharing the good gifts God has deposited in you, that God may be glorified. Let us not shrink back from the call.
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