“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.
The Christian Pastoral world is strange. Much like any other profession, pastors work on building reputations. In our digital age, pastors build reputations globally, using blogs, podcasts, facebook and an array of social networking. In a certain sense, if we can have an influence around the world then more people can come to know God through us. And hey, if someone sees your writing or if you build a larger than life reputation, then speaking opportunities, jobs or book deals could come your way. I think many pastors (including myself at times) fall into the trap of religious respectability.
In our world today the temptation and ability to create a larger than life reputation is huge. If you promote you own work because it points to Jesus, then that is one thing, but so many times that well meaning promotion creeps its way into promoting self. I have been guilty of this with my blog, and honestly its one of the reasons I’ve slowed down with publishing what I write. The question arises, whose glory is this for?
One of the most powerful and convicting things that I have read lately is from Dallas Willard. He says, “Our intent is determined by what we want and expect from our action. When we do good deeds, to be seen by human beings, that is because we are looking for something that comes from human beings. God responds to our expectations accordingly. When we want human approval and esteem, and do what we do for the sake of it, God courteously stands aside because, by our wish, it does not concern him.”
I would submit to you that working on your reputation as a Christian leader actually harms your relationship with God. I doubt that God intrudes where he is not invited. Often times we mask so much of our own bragging in Jesus’ words that it looks really admirable, but in reality it is doing even more damage when we teach the world that stroking our own ego’s through Jesus’ words is a good thing. Jesus himself teaches that when our egos have died is when we really experience a full life with him.
Do we fall into the trap of disobeying Jesus, through shameless self-promotion because we have convinced ourselves that our ministry impact could be larger? I know of twelve men who would argue the counter point. When we promote ourselves, is it to point to our own accomplishments or knowledge or is it to point in a far greater way to the knowledge of God?
I have been blogging for a few years now. Every so often I have to stop, because I ask myself, “Whose glory is this for?” Why do I always need to be the protagonist in my own story? What are my motives in writing what I write? So if you are a Christian leader, the question of motive comes to mind. What do you want and expect from your action? Is it recognition, a job, sounding smart or having the power of authority, or is it truly to see people come to a fuller understanding in their life with God?
Donald Miller wrote a great post on this and I think he outlines some of the correct motives for self promotion: click here