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Humility And Self-Promotion: Can They Co-Exist?

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Experience

We can all relate to knowing that one person, who all they ever seem to do is endlessly promote themselves. Each and every Facebook post or tweet is all about some product they want to sell you, or something they’ve done, are doing, or will do. Everything that comes out of their mouth is basically a plea that says, “Hey, look at me!”

They’ve been called many names:

  • Me Monster
  • The One-Upper
  • The Narcissist
  • The Naval Gazer

Brian Regan has a hilarious bit about the Me Monster.

It’s funny to watch and listen as Brian paints the picture of what’s it like to be around one of these people, but you and I both know, we all have the tendency to be one of them.

Humility Is Attractive

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”C.S. Lewis

There’s no doubt that people want to follow and are attracted to people who are humble. Nobody likes a know it all, and no one can stand to be around a one-upper.

As Christians, we expect our leaders, celebrities, and authority figures to be gracious and humble. We preach messages about how important it is to be servants and reference Christ, as he washed the disciples feet.

The trouble with that is we also want to play the role of the morality police.

It’s hard to show humility while at the same time standing in judgement over someone else’s behavior.

So the question still remains, how do you tell people about your (fill in the blank) without becoming the dreaded me monster?

Picking Ourselves

Seth Godin has famously coined this idea, and several others have joined in commentating that refusing to pick yourself, is just another way of saying you’re afraid. It’s basically another way to guarantee failure.

I’ve got to be honest here, this is one of the biggest things I wrestle with. I’ll make all kinds of excuses, thinking that I’m somehow taking up my cross or being a better Christian, when the truth is, I’m just afraid.

I’ve learned that part of the core issue at stake here is identity.

If you and I are securely attached in our identity, picking ourselves is easy.

While I do believe there is some nuance between picking ourselves and shamelessly self-promoting, the idea that these two concepts are mutually exclusive is ludicrous.

So how can humility and self-promotion co-exist?

Looking Through the Lens of the Gospel

Look at it this way, when you refuse to pick yourself, what you’re actually saying is that the atoning work of Christ was not enough. You’re saying his death, burial, and resurrection was not enough for you. You’re the exception, the one person who is outside the care and the loving arms of God.

You’re saying the words, “It is finished,” means nothing at all.

That may sound harsh, but if we are to look through the lens of the Gospel, then just consider the truth for a moment.

Romans 5:6 says:

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.”

What does that mean?

It means you were picked first. Before you even knew you needed to be picked.

So how much more should you be picking yourself?

Now that may be a spin to this idea that you’ve never thought of before, but nevertheless, it’s true.

Understanding and experiencing the Gospel, requires you to acknowledge your need, thereby requiring humility.

So you can see that these two ideas, don’t just co-exist, one presupposes the other.

Do you struggle with promoting your work?

Are you stuck in a place waiting to be picked or waiting to get noticed by someone else?

Are you disguising your fear as humility?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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Josh Collins

Josh Collins is a Communicator and Experience Architect who lives in Franklin, Tn. His passion is to create awesome experiences that change the way we engage audiences and help you do the same.
  • Shannon Whitney Hendrix

    WOOOO!!!! A GREAT word for this “failure” day of the STARTexp! I tweeted it to a friend before I even finished reading the whole post! This was the shot in the arm I needed today. THANK. YOU.

    • http://www.thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

      Thanks Shannon, glad you liked it! To be honest, I was anxious this morning as the scheduled post time grew nearer! Ha!

  • http://quickanddirtyworshipleader.com/ Nathanael Schulte

    This is a big deal, especially in church leadership of any kind. I think the best thing I ever read in this regard was Abba’s Child, by Brennan Manning.
    Thanks for sharing, Josh!

    • http://www.thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

      Nathan, you are always welcome here my friend! And yes you are right, Abba’s Child, is some foundational reading. I think it should be required by all!

  • http://www.thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

    Anita, I’d love to see Regan live! He brings me to tears, and stomach pains I laugh so hard!

  • Blog Reader

    Wow, this is an amazing blog. I really like the topic and how it is constructed.

    This is a really difficult concept as a Christian. In the entertainment industry, it seems like the most “successful” are those who work hard and have great marketing. How do I “humble yourself [myself] under the Lord and he will exalt you in due time” or “wait on the Lord”, yet not create a list of rules for myself that keep me from grasping opportunity? Should I just sit back and let my art’s audience grow without marketing or should I use the business concepts that I know? Really murky water for someone who cares about what God thinks…

    • http://www.thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

      You know one of the most powerful shifts I’ve made recently was understanding that I had been asking the wrong questions. I needed to stop asking what to do and start asking what God has already given me. One of the most beautiful aspects of the gospel, can be found in the creation of Adam and Eve and the garden. God let go, said it is good, and then told us, it’s your turn, you create and multiply.

  • Pablo Ellsworth

    I struggle with this a lot. Great insight. Thanks Josh!

  • Vera

    My answer to your first 2 Q’s is Yes! To the 3rd I say nope, my fear is my fear, I confess it. I was raised but not praised so ‘aw shucks, t’weren’t nothing’ is my default. I look at other writers and admire them and feel totally inadequate.

    And yet I know I am so precious to God that Jesus died to save me – now I’m His masterpiece. Who is that person and how do I grow into the fullness of her?

    There’s so much good advice out there I find I’m paralyzed, not knowing whose to follow. But one thing I have heard from the Lord repeatedly in my journalling time is “writers write”. So I am doing that, and trying to learn what to do with it as I go along.

    It’s a great post – provocative and motivational! Thanks Josh!

    • http://www.thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

      Thanks Vera! I also struggle with feelings of inadequacy! It’s something I have to constantly surrender and remind myself of the truth of who I am.

Posted on: July 23, 2013

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