I have a natural aversion to self-promotion. So much so that I tended to do the opposite. I held back. I didn’t want to be seen as one of those self-promoting ‘others’ who have a greater-than-reality view of themselves and don’t deliver on what they offer. Then I realized I was contributing to the problem. Self-promotion is neither good nor evil. It is people who do it badly that mess it up for all of us. If we genuinely have something that adds value to society or the planet then STAND UP AND LET THE WORLD KNOW ABOUT IT. Here’s my journey…
I grew up hearing on Sunday and reading in my Bible that self-promotion is wrong. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition… (Philippians 2:3). I was also shy and insecure and had poor self image of who I was. As I have grown in my walk with Christ, He has become my confidence and I am learning to stop navel gazing and just trust Him. What if I believed in myself as much as He believes in me? But I was still AVOIDING OPPORTUNITIES to stand out… because of FEAR of being seen to ‘SELF-PROMOTE.’ I needed a beliefs adjustment.
My initial beliefs adjustment came through my pastor. He asked me directly, “Why are you afraid of that opportunity?” He busted the fear I was hiding behind and the lightbulb of truth woke me up. I hadn’t even realized I was hiding or avoiding promotion that GOD was wanting me to step up in. I immediately went to my boss at work (I was working in finance), apologized for avoiding certain favorable responsibilities in the team and told him why (that was a fun conversation). I then offered to step-up wherever he wanted me to. Within a week I was leading our whole team in weekly management meetings. Within two months I was promoted to a new regional manager role.
The next major ‘self-promotion’ bump came with launching our first book and website. It felt awkward to let people know about something that I would benefit from. Wasn’t that self promotion? I was struggling being in business which requires marketing, but my beliefs around self-promotion were undermining my ability to do business!
I needed another beliefs adjustment. I went to the Great Teacher and His Word to find out for myself. Here’s what I found out:
I found out that JESUS was GREAT at what I would have called SELF-PROMOTION. He was phenomenal at SELF-MARKETING. He stepped up on a boat to speak, he stood on a mountain to speak, He said He was the very son of God… He was never shy at standing up or standing out and letting his message be heard. He was criticized and accused of wrongfully promoting himself.
So, is self-promotion the same as marketing?
In a general sense there is no difference. You must promote your ‘self’ in order to sell your products. Marketing IS self promotion. However, there is a self-promotion that is not healthy.
So what is ‘bad’ self promotion [that is talked about in church] and when is it bad?
How do I know?
What should I do if I’m struggling to market myself in business because I don’t want to be self-promoting?
What is (bad) self-promotion?
Selfish-ambition (ambition is good; selfish ambition is not); it is self-seeking. It is motivated by a political spirit rooted in uncertain identity and/or ungodly values.
- The pursuit of gain/influence/political office by unfair means. It is the elevation of one’s self above others for the purpose of selfish gain (having no concern for the welfare or wellbeing of others).
- The presentation or communication of something that is not entirely true or authentic in order to paint an image better than reality and manipulate the decisions of others.
- The de-valuing or fault-finding in others in order to elevate yourself.
The root of selfish ambition is fear. It is evidence of a lack of trust in God, poor identity.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition (factional motives – contentiousness, strife, selfishness or unworthy ends) or conceit (empty arrogance), but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3,4.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not come from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first of all pure, the peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:14-16.
What is the contrast between unhealthy self-promotion and Godly self-promotion?
|Unhealthy Self-Promotion “I WILL”||Godly Self-Promotion “I SERVE”|
|Selfish, self-seeking||Selfless,Seek win:win and wellbeing of others|
|Proud, arrogant||Lowliness of mind,Humble (know who you are but not slow to serve)|
|Envy or continually comparing with others||Quick to celebrate the success of others|
|Shows partiality, hypocritical||Sincere, authentic, pure|
|Hardhearted, stubborn||Merciful, willing to yield or admit wrong|
Healthy self-promotion results in the confident communication of adding value or providing benefit to others.
1. What is your message or product? It is your good news. It is a gift (doesn’t place a demand or burden on the ‘hearers’ but releases life and freedom). A product that add’s value – quality of life (like salt – adds flavor, adds life).
2. Who is your audience? Jews or Gentiles? Which tribe? What age group? What language? Nations and people groups are no longer geographic. Speak their language not yours.
3. What is your vehicle, your platform? Jesus stood on a mountain, in a boat. What is your platform? A book? Social media? A microphone? A product?
4. What will you do? Show me your faith! Take a risk. Step out, step up. Faith expectantly pulls on the blessing of Abraham because of relationship/connection rather than effort/works. Faith expects a reward way beyond what your individual effort could ever achieve. So… is your return according to your effort or way more than your effort? That’s the invitation to more.
Andy Mason comes from New Zealand and has 15+ years experience helping individuals and organizations discover and align with purpose, then develop practical steps to make dreams a reality.He has worked for a national consultancy firm and leading financial institution as well as investing in international community development.Andy is the director of Heaven in Business and together with his wife, Janine, leads Dream Culture – a movement catalyzing people to discover and live their dreams. Andy and Janine live with their four children in Redding, CA. For more check out the Authentic Conversations Podcast.