Is Self Promotion Evil?


Most Christian leaders I know struggle to find balance in life. They need to find the proper ratio between work and family time, the balance between eating and exercising.  But while most of us would agree that family always comes before work and that overeating and poor exercise habits are not good for anyone, Christian leaders struggle with the elusive, apparently evil, but frequently necessary need for self-promotion. Is self-promotion a symptom of a prideful heart, a necessary evil of ministry, or a simple tool to achieve a mean?

self promotion, marketing, personal brand

Well, it depends.

I’m not trying to be evasive when I say, “it depends.” As both a communications expert and a literary agent, I help my clients  develop a platform where their resources (books, videos, blogs, curricula) can be consumed. One of the very first questions publishers ask me about a new author is, “what type of platform does he or she have?”

“But isn’t creating an audience the job of a marketer?” You might ask. Yes, it is, but the content, specially Christian content, cannot be divorced from the content provider and thus both the author as well as the product must be promoted.

Frequently I hear that such and such pastor or author has gone overboard with their self promotion. That translates to me as:  that person is doing a good job in getting his or her message out. “But that’s vanity!” some have argued.

Here’s how I see it: The act of self promotion itself is amoral, meaning void of moral meaning. It’s neither good or bad. But it’s absolutely necessary in order to develop a platform, engage culture and grow a church or movement because the message cannot be divorced from the messenger. The motivation for self-promotion, however, is key.

As an author, business owner and Christ-follower, I understand the need to reach out to an ever-growing audience so I can have a deeper impact. “Oh, but I have seen people buy into their own PR and become horrible divas.” Yes, so have I. But that’s God’s problem, not ours. I cannot and will not judge someone else’s motivations and neither should you.  I can only comment on people’s actions and behaviors. When those whom are close to me behave unbecomingly, I’m the first one to call them on it. Otherwise, I want to help them unapologetically seize every opportunity, take every interview, kiss every baby, shake every hand and smile for every photo opp that comes their way so that their life-giving message can get out before as many people as possible.

I know this is an emotionally-charged subject and difficult to navigate, but am I off base?

  • Lewis Clayton

    I think your perspective is a good one. Any form of marketing is ultimately promotion or self-promotion if one is marketing a speaker or author. One's motivation is ultimately the defining factor. Great post.

  • dmbaldwin

    "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:16). Isn't this a form of self promotion? I know that Dr. Robert Lewis' church takes some of the more high profile things to do in Little Rock so that people will see their good works.
    I think it's the motivation behind the "self promotion".
    Thanks so much for this post! Very good thoughts.

    • That's a great verse, Dave. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • I work in Christian media and would also agree, motivation is the operative word for the question. As Christians, the Bible gives clear guidelines for what is right and wrong and how to serve, that can be applied to communication strategies. With a clear conscience before God, and those we trust, we're free to market like mad with excellence to accomplish the objectives. For the mission of others and our own efforts.

    This is a very important question given that technology now allows everyone to have a "media platform" and build a personal brand. Let's be diligent in using these powerful tools for His purposes and glory.

    "Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God." 1 John 3:21

  • Tami Heim

    I believe it always come down to my heart and how it lines up with His. Nothing else really matters.
    Amen to 1John 3:21, Gordon.
    Amen! /

  • I somewhat agree. While I completely agree that we can't judge other's motivations, I will consider this introspectively.

    I also agree that self-promotion is amoral. The thing is, from a Christian perspective, motivation is everything. Is the goal of self-promotion for your fame or for the fame of the Lord? Do you have a message that you believe will impact the body of Christ or are you more concerned with how popular you become, how many books you sell, how many people visit your site or how many conferences you speak at?

    I believe we all start out with the right motivations. It is when we begin to allow pride and accolades to fuel us, that self-promotion becomes precarious.

    On the other hand, if you have a burning message in your heart, shout it from the rooftops! But be clear that this is not about you if you truly believe it isn't.

    I don't believe it is for any of us to judge another's motives but this is a good exercise to look inwardly at ourselves. If you know that you can impact one life, would you trade that for fame and fortune and a message that falls on deaf ears?

    • Thanks for the helpful thoughts about self-promotion. We hear so much about not boasting that we forget that boasting might be different from marketing. Great food for thought.

  • As a former CCM artist (obviously not self promoted enough…hence former) This was a constant issue we battled with and were accused of. It was sometimes a hard fence to balance on, and christians were quick to judge you if you just wanted to get paid for your work. It use to tick me off when at church I'd hear people talk about someone singing during service and that they were "performing" not worshiping. I actually know a guy he claims he has a discernment gift in that area… I had to bite my tongue on that one.

    Our lives should glorify God, not how we promote ourselves. What do you think God, our Father, views this. Probably like a Father would view it. He wants us to love Him and glorify him, and he wants us to be happy and live life to the fullest. You don't have to point your finger towards the sky after every mention of your book, album, ministry…or while we're at it, Law or Medical Practice, Hair Salon, Landsape business.

    I'm with you Maurilio, judging peoples motives makes my skin crawl.

    • Bret, if you've been around church long enough you'll bound to meet several people who have the "discernment gift." They are a special "blessing" to church leaders.

  • Agreed- it may or may not be.

    I am more likely to promote ideas to engage in dialog- not so much promote my self…

    When I focus on promoting an idea.. and a message…that's relevant and necessary… I don't feel like I'm so close to the line of evil demarcation…..(evil line of demarcation? Whatever, you know what I mean.)

    However- there ARE days wen its all about me..writing is fun and getting laughs makes me feel great….and when people like what I write- i feel like they like ME.

    Fortunately- I have people who love me enough to let me know when I'm crossing that line:)

  • Good stuff, Maurilio. I feel awkward promoting my own stuff, honestly. Awkward because I feel like I'm saying, "Hey everybody…look how awesome I am!" I feel less awkward when I can say, "Look how awesome ______ organization is!" Or when I can simply open up a dialog and let things ride.

    Still wrestling through this one. Thanks for the post.

    • It's tough because it sounds self-serving and ultimately it is. But if you don't believe in your product than you can't expect others to believe in it for you. Hang in there.

  • Insightful post. I tend to shy away from ministers that have their name and picture everywhere. Shouldn’t the idea, organization, or in this case — the Gospel – be the focus?

    I think motive is the huge factor here, but I’d still like to hear why it’s more important to promote yourself than your beliefs or ideas.

    Thanks for this post I’m sure I’ll be sharing it with some of my friends.

  • Christians promoting Christianity is also self promoting. The great commission is completely evasive to anyone that does not really care. As Christians we are saying "come check out what I have!" It is self promoting, but if what we are promoting is for the benefit of others, whether it is Christianity or our own products, then it is justly done. Now, when our self promoting loses sight of benefiting others and instead seeks fame and fortune, then that form of self promotion is leaning towards "evil."

  • I had nightmares last night from the billboard picture.

  • JacQueline Roe

    As a pastor’s wife and author, I have been long-afraid of vanity, but am learning the importance in scripture of the phrase “so that.” I love that you used it, too:

    “I want to help them unapologetically seize every opportunity, take every interview, kiss every baby, shake every hand and smile for every photo opp that comes their way SO THAT their life-giving message can get out before as many people as possible.” Thank you for helping us see that WHY we do what we do is of the utmost importance.

Share “Is Self Promotion Evil?” by Maurilio Amorim


Delivered by FeedBurner