Why Self-Promotion Isn’t Always Bad

One question hits the reset button on our motives

Okay, I need to be honest. I’m glad my book launch for Waiting on God is over. Self-promotion can make me really uncomfortable. But not for the reasons you think.

Why Self-Promotion Isn’t Always Bad

(Photo by Photodune)

It’s not that self-promotion is wrong, per se. It doesn’t have to contradict humility. (I’ll share why in a minute.) Rather, all that self-promotion made me at times concerned (this is tough to admit) that I might appear anti-humble. Which, in effect, is the same as being anti-humble.

Maybe you’ve been there. By being concerned with how we are perceived, we waver between the high road of humility and the swamp of pride. It’s really tough to move forward in the Christian life when ego is stuck to your shoes like a glob of gum.

Know what I mean?

But just because our motives are often mixed (even on our best days), that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t self-promote at times.

Here’s why that’s true. And here’s one question that helps us hit reset on our motives.

The Issue of Mixed Motives

Mixed motives are part of our lives. Why? Because:

  • There are the things we do.
  • There are the reasons we do them.
  • There are the reasons behind the reasons.

For example, we may donate money to a charity or to a church. Why? To support the cause, of course. But the reason behind the reason? That could go any number of directions—some good, some bad. Like self-promotion with the motive of self-glory. Not good. Of course, self-promotion can fertilize the taproot of ego and self-interest. And believe me, that root needs no nourishment. Ego grows just fine all on its own.

But if we wait until our motives are always totally pure—we’d get nothing done. We must just do our best. After all, even a clear conscience doesn’t mean we’re in the clear (1 Cor. 4:4). Ultimately, only God decides the purity of our motives. The good news? Self-promotion doesn’t have to be bad.

One question helps us reset our reasons for what we do.

What’s Your Motive?

How do you feel about self-promotion? At first, that question sounds profoundly unspiritual. But two examples have encouraged me here—and they show that self-promotion can have a noble purpose.

The first example comes from the Lord Jesus, who prayed to the Father:

Glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You. —John 17:1

It wasn’t self-serving for Jesus to ask the Father to glorify Jesus. Why? Because the motive behind the prayer was so that Jesus would glorify the Father.

So it is with us. We also are to glorify God (John 17:10; Rom. 11:36; 16:27; 1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 1, refers to this glorifying God as the chief end of mankind.

So how do we keep God’s glory as our “chief end”—our primary motive? The second example answers that.

Chuck Swindoll wrote a devotional in which he mentions having placed a card on his desk with a simple question: “What’s your motive?” Chuck writes that he often asks himself a series of penetrating questions about decisions he makes:

Why are you planning this?
What’s the reason behind your doing that?
Why did you say yes (or no)?
What is the motive for writing that letter?
Why are you excited over this opportunity?
What causes you to bring up that subject?
Why did you mention his or her name?
What’s your motive?

Self-Promotion and God’s Glory

If we keep the glory of God as the goal of all we do, then self-promotion should carry with it motivations that point to God—and also leave the results in His court.

Tell me what you think: How do you feel about self-promotion? To leave a comment, just click here.

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