Tuesday, January 3, 2012

to stop worshiping at the wrong altars




A thorn of mine which has kept me gloomy is the whole business of self-promotion and that scary M word, marketing. Each day for over ten years, I've faced the fear that my fiction books will slide into limbo-land if I don't do all I can to drag them to the public's attention, but the problem is I've always felt dismally inept and inadequate. Finally, I asked myself, "Well, how did Jesus tackle self-promotion while he was living on the earth? He had the biggest agenda of anyone - reconciling all mankind with God. How did he do it?" When I delved into the pages of Scripture to investigate, the answer was refreshingly staggering.

Nothing was lower on his agenda than self-promotion. He resisted several opportunities to become famous. Instead of broadcasting his miracles, he told many people he healed to keep it hushed up for the time being. The man set free from demons wanted to go with him, but instead of jumping at the opportunity to have such a sensational fan always around to speak up for him, Jesus sent him home to his family.

When he was rejected by the people who'd known him in his youth at his hometown, Nazareth, he seemed to shrug it off. He was given a warmer reception at his next stop, Capernaum, but moved on from there too, rather than being tempted to stay and soak in all the affirmation. Jesus wasn't moved by either rejection or approval. When an adulating crowd tracked him down, he preached an 'extreme' message about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, driving the majority away. He was okay with their desertion too.

Jesus spent a lot of his ministry time with just twelve men who were mostly on his wavelength. At the end, only about 120 were following his guidance daily. He set his face toward Jerusalem not in a popularity campaign but knowing he had to die. But isn't that consistent with the baby who was born in a common stable, noticed only by a handful of riff-raff shepherds while the VIPs of the day were being hailed in palaces?

Knowing that Jesus wasn't interested in marketing himself to the masses puts a whole new slant on my decade-long angst. When I pray for unprecedented success to overtake me, is it really reasonable to expect God to indulge me in this when it was a low priority for His Son? Have I been uncomfortably seeking the affluent western god of notoriety, all the while convincing myself that I don't practice idolatry? I'm attracted by the idea of achieving 'best-seller' status and having my books fly off the shelves as soon as they're published. When I get together with groups of other authors, we brainstorm ways of 'building our platforms'. It sounds really admirable when I declare that I'm doing it for Jesus and not for me.

In the light of the modest way Jesus lived his life, am I just fooling myself that he wants my help to spread his fame? What if my desire to write a best seller 'to honour Jesus' is just a veiled way to chase personal glory? Hearing and reading good words about myself really strokes my ego. Should I feel as hopeless and gloomy as I do when these warm fuzzies are not forthcoming? When links to my blog posts and favourable reviews are ignored on Face Book, and friends and acquaintances continue holding off on reading my books, should I feel despondent? Is the inclusion of my books in catalogues really a sign that I've 'arrived'? I'm tired of playing the self-delusional game. I don't want to tread the fine line that Lucifer was banished from heaven for. Jesus said we can't worship both God and mammon. In my case, I've decided I can't follow both God and success, God and recognition.

Where does that leave me in 2012? Towards the start of 2011, I stopped writing from discouragement but it didn't work. The books had to be written. I'm happiest when I give my stories a outlet, so I keep doing it. Although personal self-promotion meant nothing to Jesus, he still went around ministering to people. I'll still keep trying to look for people who might want to hear me share my writing journey and buy my books. Outwardly, I may not change the way I operate at all. But inwardly, I have to do something. Therefore, my new year's resolution is to stop worshiping at the altars of notoriety and attention. That's got to be a far better way to live than gritting my teeth and trying to chase them. I've tried that for far too long and it's been churning me up inside. Now, at last, I'm beginning to understand why. I've got caught up in the hype of the crowd, got my path mixed up and approached the wrong temple.

14 comments:

  1. What an awesome revelation to have, Paula! Thanks for the reminder to not chase after fame, but just minister humbly in His name. :)

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  2. Hi Paula. What a gutsy honest post. Thank you.
    I have an idea for you, I might message you on facebook regarding it, perhaps we can keep each other accountable with this.
    Thanks again.
    Penny.

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  3. Wow, Paula, if only we could let this sink deep into our beings so that we can't help living it out. May God change us to be more like His Son! Thanks so much for posting this.

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  4. Dear Paula,everything you write is so gripping and enticing to read, I love every word you put together its magical.....dont give upon your dreams!

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  5. Hey, thanks, all of you.
    My heart is warmed by your feedback. Even though this post is all about not relying on it, it sure is appreciated when it comes.

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  6. Rueben SarvananthanJanuary 4, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Hi Paula, the Lord has been dealing with a few of us on these very issues in the past 12 months and it is so wonderful to know the lord is rising up men and women who are not centred on self promotion but rather on doing the Will of our Father as Jesus did. The wrong alter is similar to the adulterous woman of Proverbs 7 - enticing ppl and ourselves w fleshly feelings that evetually lead to destruction whilst what the Lord has shown you Proverbs 8 the woman and words of Wisdom (Jesus) whose words come from the spirit and bring life without enticing the soulish realm. Thank u for bringing this teaching. May the Lord continue to bless u in your journey w Him - Rueben

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  7. It's a fine line we walk Paula. I've felt the same way about "promoting" Footprints. These days my thoughts are that if I believe in Footprints and what God is doing through it, why wouldn't I promote it and let others know about it? Wouldn't He want it to get to as many readers as possible? A bit different to your revelation but what I feel God whispered to me ... and that's all any of us can go on ... that still small voice that is personally for us!

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  8. Another great post Paula. I agree but I'd like to add that Jesus was single mindedly determined to get his message out there. Maybe His teaching about shaking the dust off our feet and moving on is relevant to us. Many of His stories were ignored and yet millions of people are reading them two thousand years later. So be encouraged. Wears all waiting for your next book so get on and do it. :)

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  9. Thank you Paula, I needed to hear this right now. Too many people in my life have been insisting I need to do more to sell my book, get it out there, and I started questioning my attitude of letting it happen on its own. I'm not good at the whole self-promotion thing either.

    I can't speak for everyone, but for myself, I save your blog posts and books for when I can sit with them uninterrupted, because I know what I read will get me thinking. I saved your book, Best Forgotten, to start this month, when I knew I would have bigger blocks of time and quiet to read. I'm a slow reader and easily distracted, so this is how I've learned to deal with that flaw. :o) You will be happy to know I've started it, and you have not disappointed me. And if I would quit stopping to think about what happened to Courtney, perhaps I would be finished already!

    Peace and Laughter,
    Cristina

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  10. Hi people,
    Rueben, thanks for dropping by. I looked up the references you mentioned and agree with you. There's lots of food for thought there. That adulterous woman represents an attitude as well as just a loose moralled woman.
    Janet, like you, I'm not stopping my promotion efforts as I believe what you say too - but just the depression and angst that goes with it stemming from the wrong attitude (well, I'm trying and recognising it is the first step :))
    Cristina, I know just where you're coming from. I've often thought you and I have more in common than just similar aged, homeschooled families. I'm really happy that you've got in "BF" and are enjoying it.
    Blessings,
    Paula

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  11. So a good point you've addressed. When I think of Jesus - I think about how he continually when on his mission while here on earth - not drawing attention to himself yet still drawing crowds. He pointed everyone in the direction of heaven and the father, his message reached thousands.
    Perhaps if we point people towards our stories and books rather than to ourselves we are promoting something that will hopefully lead people to the Father.
    Thanks for posting this to allow me to journal a little on your comment page :D
    xx
    my verifaction word is .. angst LOL

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  12. I love this post Paula. I love that you are after the heart of the Father, and this is what he sees too. How His heart must rejoice over you

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  13. Paula, I relate with all my heart. I also had issue with the whole self promotion thing. You see - it wasn't ever my dream to be a published author. My dream was to get to the end of my life and say that I had done something for the Lord. And to submit to fulfilling the purpose He had set for me - whatever that was. So all the self stuff was intense and kind of made me crazy for a bit. I discovered that it was the Lord's prerogative to find His place for my work. I just had to trust, work hard, but leave the rest to Him. I found peace in this place.

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  14. I'd like to thank you all for your kind responses to a post which was a bit difficult to admit to.
    Michelle, your word verification was spot on.
    Nicole and Rose, thank you.
    Rose, may I add I understand completely.
    Blessings,
    Paula

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