Ambition vs. Self-promotion

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Another GREAT “grey” leadership issue is finding the balance between ambition and self-promotion, especially as church leaders.

In our ambition we pursue the dreams that God has laid on our hearts.  I believe that God expects action, intention and drive from us.  He doesn’t want us to be passive and lazy.  He’s chosen us for the greatest calling we could ever have – to make His name known in all the world.

However, when does our ambition cross the line and become self-promotion?

When does chasing our God-given dreams and passion become a chance to make our name known rather than His name known?

Do you know when you’ve become more concerned about others knowing you rather than others knowing Him?

That line gets really fuzzy.  Most times we don’t know we’ve crossed it until well after we have and we have trouble looking back and finding the step that took us over the edge.

Do you ever wrestle with this?

If so, how do you keep yourself in check?  Who holds you accountable?  Who speaks truth into your life?

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, three you find disorder and every evil practice.  James 3:16

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  • mandythompson August 19, 2010  

    I can't tell you how closely this issue is to my heart as an artist. I don't know how to do this properly – and I'd love some advice on it.
    My previous MO has been to never mention, publicize, or promote stuff that I do. But, since desperately needing purpose in my life while we were at seminary, I dove into blogging and songwriting – the two mediums of creativity worked well for me and worked well together. And, as I blogged and sang, I unintentionally drew attention to my songwriting…
    Enter the problem: as more people learned of my music, I found myself making connections that would help get my music "out there" – becoming more intentional – and now I'm starting to actively pursue some of these connections. Sending demos to publishers. Networking with "the right people" online. Etc. All in the hopes that these people will begin to promote my stuff…
    Granted, I've still never introduced one of my own worship songs to a congregation before – bc it seems like presumptuous self-promotion – but I know others who have.
    So I don't know what to do. I feel caught. Trapped. If I don't put my songs out there, no one will ever hear or use them. But if I put my songs out there, it feels a bit like self promotion.

  • Shannon Litton August 19, 2010  

    Tough one. You're right. This is such a FINE LINE and one that is SO easy to stumble across…without even realizing it.

    I think it comes down to one word: motivation. What is our motivation for promotion? You mentioned that we've been given the greatest calling we could ever have. That has to remain our motivation. The highest reward is to share His name and His message. We may be the vehicles to share…but our motivation has to remain bringing glory to God. When it slips into something else, we're flirting with that fine line.

    • jcatron August 20, 2010  

      Motivation – you summed it up well Shannon! Thanks for chiming in.

  • lashorne August 20, 2010  

    Jenni… thanks for the reminder. "i" should be hidden in "HiM"

    When others see me, I want HIM to be made known. Like Shannon said "bringing glory to God."

    • jcatron August 20, 2010  

      Love that word picture – "be hidden in Him"

  • jcatron August 20, 2010  

    Mandy, this is such a valuable season of processing for you. As an artist, the spotlight is a given and it only gets brighter. If you find your grounding in Him early on, I think it opens up the space for God to work through you in a big way. Perhaps you need to think of every song, every opportunity as God, as Him working through you. It's not yours, it's His. I've found myself singing the Audrey Assad lyrics "Everything is yours. If everything is yours God, I'm letting it go." The more I understand that it's God's will, God's plan, God's dream and not my own, the more comfortable I become doing what He has called me to and not looking for the credit or approval for myself.

    Praying for you and so excited for what God has planned to do through you! Hope we can hang out soon. Would love to have this discussion over a cup of tea.

    • mandythompson August 23, 2010  

      Jenni: Thanks for your thoughtful answer. And I sense a bit of "permission" to follow God wherever He leads me with this talent He's given me. Will continue to press on – write on – sing on – and see what happens.
      And, yes, tea would be nice!! I'm looking at dates for a fall trip. My BFF lives in Nash, you know. Very close to the airport, in fact.
      Hope to meet you soon,

  • Jeff Goins August 21, 2010  

    Love this. As a ministry leader, marketer and blogger, I find this especially challenging.