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?
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?