Avoiding the Black Hole of “Christian” Self-Promotion

I recently signed a book deal with a major Christian publisher and since then I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance self-promotion with God promotion. And I’ve come to a conclusion: they can’t be balanced. The scales must always tip in favor of God promotion.

I haven’t blogged in about  6 weeks. I’d like to say I’ve been overly lazy and uninspired, but that simply wouldn’t be the truth. I’ve actually been on a bit of an electronic sabbatical lately, so my hiatus has been deliberate and calculated (why does that word sound so evil and conniving?). I’ve been doing some soul searching. I’ve felt pulled into a mode of self-promotion lately, and that’s something I’ve always been against.

13 years ago, I married my wife about 2 months before I graduated college, and as graduation neared, I refused to send out any resumes. I was raised in a home of deep faith, by a father of deep faith, and he taught me through example that God would always open the right door at the right moment. So, when graduation neared, I simply believed God would open the appropriate door at the appropriate moment. Some truly believed I was crazy. I don’t blame them.

But, lo and behold, Kristi and I moved to start our first ministry position the very day I graduated. God opened a door, and he really didn’t need my help. From that moment on, I’ve been convinced that God doesn’t need my help. He will always provide and will always open the right doors at the right moments. I simply try to stay out of the way.

Me and Kristi, not long before graduation in 2001.

Me and Kristi, not long before graduation in 2001.

But I’ve recently been signed to a book deal with a Christian publisher. And upon signing that book deal, I immediately began being sucked into the Christian retail machine. They requested that I start focusing on and building my “platform.” I dove deeper into “the Twitter” and began building a “following.” I started viewing Facebook as a marketing tool as well as a relational tool. In fact, that’s the whole reason I started this blog—the business thought it would also help my “platform.” Which is the most important word in Christian publishing right now.

But I’ve had this nagging voice in the back of my head for the past several months reminding me of my college graduation day. I didn’t have to promote myself then, and I continue to feel as if I don’t need to promote myself now. So, I took some time off to really pray and do some soul searching. I don’t want this to be about me, I want it to be about HIM. And now I’m back, hoping to do all I can with the resources at my disposal, not to bring people to me or my book, but ultimately hoping to reveal and show people GOD and HIS BOOK. His is way better than mine, anyway. I’ll still have some fun with it all, because that’s just who God’s made me to be, and I can’t help but tell people about my love for duck-billed platypuses from time-to-time. I mean, He is the one who created them so inexplicably cute. I’m sure He’s quite proud of his work in the duck-billed platypus.

le platypus de duckbill

who couldn’t love that face?

God has opened this door for ministry, and I certainly want to walk through it. I just want to make sure that He walks through it before me. He always needs top billing. The spotlight is all His, and I hope to simply be the one who gets to plug it in, turn it on, and show the world His matchless grace, glory, and love. Shining a light on HIM would be the greatest accomplishment of any life.

So, Ladies and Gentleman, meet Jesus. He’s my everything. He’s my all in all. Without Him, I’d have nothing, be nothing, and do nothing. And without Him, there’d be no duck-billed platypuses.

The prayer of my life has always been: “Lord, please don’t let my imperfections which are so many ever stand in the way your perfection.”

So far, He’s continually answered that prayer.

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7 Replies to “Avoiding the Black Hole of “Christian” Self-Promotion”

  1. Darren, Thank you this. (Sometimes I think you and I might be twins that were separated at birth.) I was confronted with this same thing yesterday on the way home from church. I appreciate getting to hear this from you. God bless!

  2. I’m really struggling with this right now and appreciate your post. I am a committed Christian. After years of working for a mission society, and then bringing up children, I started to write full time. I write romance novels, but not for the Christian market. This is very deliberate as I feel Christian novels are preaching to the choir and I wanted to be salt and light in among all the other romance novels out there. My work isn’t overtly evangelistic, but I hope that it points to God’s one true love. It’s something I pray about earnestly and strive for – that my work, no matter how silly and trivial, would honour him. It’s especially difficult for me to find support in my writing, and promotion struggles, as Christian writers don’t want to deal with me as they see my work as too secular and non-Christian writers don’t understand my struggle to honour God!

    Like you I’m being bombarded with advice and wisdom on marketing, self-promotion and building a platform. It doesn’t sit right with me, yet over the past few months I’ve found myself doing things that made me feel uncomfortable just because it was expected. But, surely any sort of self-promotion is just plain wrong?! I’m trying to work my way through this and find God’s way for me, I know he has an answer. It’s hard to get the balance between doing the job you’re supposed to do and letting God work. And it is all too easy to get sucked into wasting time on the internet without spending time listening to God first. I really appreciate your post, it’s a relief to find someone else who feels the way I feel about this issue, janet

    • Janet, I truly respect your approach to this. I do have some thoughts on it, having had to work through it myself. I’d love to communicate with you more. You can find a few ways to contact me on my “Le Author” page. If you’ll connect with me perhaps through twitter or facebook, we can talk some more. Hope to hear from you!

      • Thanks for the reply Darren. I sent a message on your facebook page – it will probably land in the ‘other’ folder. 🙂 Looking forward to chatting with you. janet

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