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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Christian Author and Self-Promotion, Part 2

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Col. 3:23 ESV).
"Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man" (Eph. 6:7 ESV). 

In last week's post, I discussed promotion in general and made a few observations. 
  • Self-promotion is not the same thing as product promotion.    
  • The writer's life is not beyond biblical scrutiny.
  • The motive of everything we do should be to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31).
So where do we go from here?

What do the above verses tell us? Everything we do should be done for the Lord and not for men. Wow. That's a toughie, isn't it? Don't we all tend to be people pleasers?

But if those verses are true, how do we Christian authors respond to the pressure to please our readers? To write for a certain audience? To want readers to like our books and buy them? To market our materials to expand our audience? To speak to groups and do radio interviews to further our influence? (And I'm not knocking these things—they are all important.)

I think the word influence may be helpful in our discussion here. Otherwise, we might reach the conclusion that we shouldn't do any of these things if we intend to obey these verses. Not so fast. Consider the words of John Piper:
Let's get rid of the word "self-promotion" and refuse to think that way. I don't ever want to be self-promoting. I don't like that language. I'm going to say, "If what I'm promoting here is myself, then I don't want to do it." . . . What I'm promoting is a truth that, by grace, I believe I have seen. . . .
That's what the Bible says to do: "Declare his glory among the nations!" Alright! You've got to open your mouth and say what you've seen with your eyes about his glory. You've got to say that! The Bible would never call that self-promotion. You're supposed to die in the process! That's not self-promotion. . . . 
The very process of true spreading is a process of self-denying. "He who would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me," meaning, "Follow me into proclamation, into gospel spreading, into serving people." Of course you're there, and you're using your hands, your mouth, your brain; but it's all death if you're doing it right.So the language I use that may bridges the gap is "influence." Is it right for a Christian to want to be influential? And the answer is—if what is influencing people is the truth, the beauty of Christ, the glory of God—"Yes, it's right and good." (
So based on what Piper is saying, I think we can conclude that if we're writing only to promote ourselves and be the next big-shot author, then we are shallow writers indeed. Because we have a higher calling. 

A calling to influence the world with God's truth. To proclaim God's glory.

In other words, our writing isn't/shouldn't be about us. In fact, based on Scripture, we are to die to ourselves. Deny ourselves. Take up our crosses. Be humble. That certainly doesn't sound like the rock star mentality the world tells us we should have, does it? In fact, it's quite the reverse.

So when we have a message or story to proclaim in book form (and yes, every book has a  message), we need to see ourselves not as promoting ourselves but as promoting God and His truth and His glory. After all, we are only his microphones for truth.

After all, we are/should be dead to self. But He is alive.

It's not about us. It's about something—about Someone—so much bigger.

If we keep that in mind, we'll forget about the whole fame/ego thing that can go along with being a published author. And we'll understand that marketing and building a platform and doing radio interviews—even writing books that are appealing to our readers—are things that aren't really about us.

They're about something—about Someone—so much bigger.

"It's all death if you're doing it right" (Piper). Something to ponder. Until next time.   


  1. "My people perish for lack of knowledge."
    "The sower went out to sow ..."
    "Jesus the author and finisher of our faith ..."

    Great column, Adam. It's all about the message, isn't it?

  2. My people perish for lack of knowledge ... the sower went out to sow ... Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

    Great column, Adam. It's all about the message, isn't it?

  3. "For we are God's workmanship [poiema], created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph 2:10 Author Joy Sawyer points out that poetry isn't a way of saying things--it's a way of seeing things. We need to remember that we are responsible to the Lord not only for the tasks He gives, but the manner in which we do them.

  4. Adam, I love the way you put this here and what John Piper said. I think these thoughts will help people who really cringe at the idea of selling their work and will also affect how we promote our work.

  5. Great thoughts from all of you. It really boils down to who we are promoting—ourselves or God? Thank you for sharing!