Earlier than seminary, I served almost 5 years as a youth pastor. On a semi-regular foundation I’d obtain mail—sometimes outsized postcards—from males my age providing their companies to my youth group. These audio system can be prepared, for a price, to talk at our retreats and summer time camps.
I couldn’t put my finger on it, however these flyers simply didn’t look like a becoming means for these males to tell others of their ministry. Such self-promotion appeared misplaced for servants of a Grasp who typically turned down alternatives for self-promotion for the sake of the mission (e.g., Matt. 9:30; 12:16; Mark 1:43–44; Luke 4:35).
As we speak, the venue for ministerial self-promotion isn’t a shiny postcard however a rigorously curated Twitter account. However what in regards to the concept of self-promotion itself? Is it ever sensible or biblical?
Diligence vs. Platform-Constructing
In two main methods, Proverbs speaks on to the temptation to promote oneself. First, it extols diligence moderately than self-promotion as a pathway to management and recognition. We’re instructed, “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor” (Prov. 12:24). God has designed the world in such a means that diligence in a single’s duties will doubtless result in some measure of recognition: “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Prov. 22:29).
A second means Proverbs offers with our tendency to self-promote is by discouraging the observe altogether: “Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.”(Prov. 25:6–7).
Word the direct distinction: in Proverbs 12:14 and 22:29, there’s a pure, unforced path to management and recognition. However in Proverbs 25:6–7, the one that thrusts himself into the place of honor is rebuffed, since he’s susceptible to public shame.
The popularity Solomon speaks of is just not gained by self-promotion, however by diligence. The one who enjoys the privilege of management and standing earlier than kings has labored steadily to hone his craft so his work is worthy of serious distinction.
That’s why Proverbs inform us, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2). Though self-promotion is seen in lots of work environments as a non-negotiable key to success, nobody actually likes it when their colleague is the one indulging the behavior.
The identical will be stated when a pastor toots his personal horn. It feels distasteful and incorrect.
As shepherds, we could also be frequently tempted to evaluate our usefulness by the variety of alternatives we obtain from outdoors our church, and develop discontented that we’re solely chatting with our personal congregation. We might anticipate others to acknowledge our instructing talents and discover it unusual—even offensive—after we’re not invited to talk at numerous conferences. Our discontent, if left unchecked, can lead us to indulge within the unfitting observe of self-promotion and self-invitation.
Spurgeon and Self-Promotion
Charles Spurgeon acknowledged this tendency amongst younger preachers. He knew they might be distracted by grand ideas of huge affect and evangelical status. Spurgeon speaks straightforwardly to this type of temptation: “Be match on your work, and you’ll by no means be out of it. Don’t run about inviting yourselves to evangelise right here and there; be extra involved about your capacity than your alternative, and extra earnest about your stroll with God than about both.”
The sequence of Spurgeon’s instruction matches the biblical rules above. Overlook about creating alternatives for your self; moderately, hone your craft and set your self to labor diligently day by day within the work the Lord has put earlier than you. The alternatives might come later, as God sees match. However the root of your pastoral work is a superior activity: stroll carefully with God by every day repentance and religion and a well-ordered private life that few individuals see.
So what about gospel productiveness? Don’t we’ve a treasure we should always unfold far and huge? Sure, however it’s straightforward, particularly for younger ministers, to confuse zeal for gospel advance with zeal for our capacity to unfold it. Small marvel that Paul received’t permit younger converts to function an elder: they’re too inclined to pleasure and self-importance (1 Tim. 3:6).
As for productiveness, we frequently neglect one other key precept acknowledged by Spurgeon: “We will be more likely to accomplish most after we are in the most effective religious situation.”
At the same time as we give ourselves to every day, quiet faithfulness, our underlying motive should be service. It’s attainable that even in our quiet faithfulness we’re eager for recognition, which is why we develop into bitter after we don’t get it—and resort to self-promotion.
When the overriding motivation in our work is to exalt Christ by serving others, we are going to provide ourselves as humble servants when outdoors alternatives come up. By way of prayer, cautious consideration of the impact of journey on your loved ones, and in search of enter out of your elders, it’s possible you’ll or might not think about it sensible to just accept such invites—however the driving motive received’t be advancing your self.
More often than not, we received’t be acknowledged for our work in ministry. Due to this fact, there should at all times be a deeper, extra satisfying affection in our hearts that guides and grounds our pastoral labors. We should be glad within the glory of Jesus Christ and the enjoyment of others greater than our personal recognition.
Allow us to go and labor for the popularity from Jesus on the ultimate day, when, if we’ve labored for his fame and never our personal, we’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).