Saturday, May 26, 2012

Self-Promotion contradicts Jesus' teaching

We are living in an age where promotion is important. You take any discipline, without promotion, it won't be successful. Events are promoted, films are promoted, TV shows are promoted and even churches are promoted by advertisement and other media. Promotion is not bad in itself. I also promote by blog or website by adding a link as signature to my email.

In this article I want to deal with an issue which has crept so much into the Christian world that sometimes we get frustrated with it. I want to call it as self-promotion. Sometimes it is done under the cover of preaching gospel and other times it is done to bring glory to God. What a contradiction it is! The creator God gets glory through the cut out poster or promotion of a preacher. Have you ever thought about it?

Nowadays almost all organizations have what they call publicity coordinator. They are needed, but sometimes we stretch it too far. Few years ago an incident happened. A sister was looking at the song book of a conference and initially thought it is a photo album. It was for the first time she saw a song book of that type. The outside title said it is a song book but less than 25% pages contained songs. Now you may think I am ignorant about why we need advertisement and all financial things attached to it. I am well aware of it and I will explain why I am highlighting such things here.

At another time I saw an advertisement about a small camp attended by about 35 people. The advertisement came in many leading papers and newsletters with the photo of all officials involved and also the preachers. When I asked someone about it then they said we want to let outside people know that we also conduct such meetings. Other official of an event told that it is just a show of strength of their church. I came across a newsletter which had the photo of an official twice on the same page. We see advertisements about meetings with photos of all preachers. It may be 10 days meeting, but you will find 15 photos. 10 preachers and 5 organizers. Sometimes I feel that it is too much of a show.

Another thing is with mission reports. Sometimes it is the testimony which people give about what they do. I am not saying it is wrong every time. Many times the motive is not correct. Sometime ago I was in a church and a person came forward to give testimony about his mission trip. He said everything about what he did. It sounded like he was glorifying his efforts and not God.

I see this trend on Facebook. People think they are really smart. They pray for 5 minutes and they want the world to know.  They do if for the sake of encouragement but is that the real motive?

The big question is how much should I advertise what I do or did for the Lord? Should I go around and tell people what I did. Many times we say we are telling what God did but are we really saying that or   promoting our-self. By now I am sure that you got a good idea of what I am trying to convey.

Let’s look at what Jesus said in Mathew 6:1-4

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (NIV)

Jesus was not talking about ministry here but about charity. There is an important principle we need to learn out of it. In simple language - Do not show off to others.

I feel anything which is done to show off or promote a person deprives God of the glory which belongs to him. Any action which is self-exalting should be stopped in our life. Even if I pray and move a mountain, it should not be advertised since it’s not I who did it but it is God. Then a question can be raised. If I don't tell people then how will they know that God can move mountains? There is a very thin line. If this testimony makes me humble and at the end leaves people focused and praising God then I am on the right side. Contrary to that if at the end focus is on me then I have failed to convey it in a way which brings glory to God. How many times I heard about such and such man or woman of God praised by people. Some people are so trapped or addicted with this problem that they praise people more than God.

I can write many more things about it but I want to focus on the scriptures.

Mathew 6:5-6
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV)

Mathew 6:16-18
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV)

I want to conclude by giving some practical advices. I am not saying you should do it but you should think about in the light if the issue I raised in this post.

  1. Avoid all kinds of self-promotion in life.
  2. Avoid and doesn’t delight when your photo comes up in someplace where you know that it should not have some.
  3. Do not enjoy and rejoice at fake exaltation or praise you receive.
  4. Be careful that your testimony does not end up being a promotion for yourself.
  5. Check who was in spotlight and who took maximum appreciation through what you did. It could be a message or preaching.
  6. Have the boldness to reject and correct if people say things about you which are not true.
  7. If you give charity then make sure they do not publish your name.
  8.  If someone asks you to give personal advertisement in a songbook then if you want to help them then give money and avoid the advertisement part.
  9. Make sure you do not do anything to show off yourself, your family or your church or your ministry to others. No one will get saved seeing how great you are. If someone comes to Christ like that then they won't stay long since only Jesus can attract and bring people to his kingdom.
  10. Never start or do any ministry to show others that you are doing something or to promote your name among others.

May the Lord help you to reflect and think about this issue and I want to conclude by saying that self-promotion always contradicts with Jesus teaching.

God Bless You!

Be Alert: Do not fall into this trap!

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