6 Signs of a Self-Promoting Church Member

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6 Signs of a Self-Promoting Church Member

Self-promotion. I’m an expert on this topic. Oops…does that sound self-promoting? Well, the fact is, I’m an expert on self-promotion because I used to be a self-promoter. And it was bad. Really, really bad.

In fact, it was so bad, about ten years ago, my pastor called me into his office to tell me that my “Self-promotion was not a good look,” and, as a church leader, it reflected poorly on me, my family, and our church as a whole. My response? “Me? A self-promoter? What do you mean?

He went on to tell me that, in addition to being a name-dropper and bragging on my accomplishments and experiences, it was obvious that I had a desire for people to have an elevated opinion of me; a form of pride. I was devastated. I was a church leader. And for everyone to see such an unChristlike flaw in me that I didn’t even see in myself was embarrassing to realize.

Like I was, could you also be in the dark about being a self-promoter? Here are 6 Signs of a Self-Promoting Church Member:

1.  An Ulterior Motive for Meeting Church Guests. Every church member should make it a point to meet church guests. It’s biblical for all of us as believers (see Hebrews 13:2). But for the church leader who feels that they must tell first-time church guests about their business, side ministry, or church title the first time they meet, there's a term we use for that in church consulting: Business Card Christianity.

2.  Social Media Posts Meant to Sound “Christiany”, But Are Really Business Advertisements. Posting a clever phrase or scripture on social media is great. But when it's always intertwined with business contact info, or a link to purchase product, it's really just wearing a mask of religion in order to push their true intentions: Promoting God in order to promote self. God gave you your business? Your book? Your album? Your ministry? Then let God promote them. Your job is to promote God.

3.  Personal Possessions are Meant to Wow. Back when I was an unknowing self-promoter, everything I owned, from my expensive cars, to my nice home, to my jewelry, to wearing the latest clothing styles, was all done so that others would have an elevated opinion of me and admire my accomplishments as a christian. While I’m ashamed of my former self, I’m thankful that God has opened my eyes to this form of self-promotion.

4.  Disassociating with People Who Don't Buy What’s Being Promoted. This happens a lot in churches. People who give the cold shoulder to someone at their church when that person doesn't buy their products/services. You say, “Wow! Are there really people who do this?” Unfortunately, yes. In a recent poll, we asked our website visitors, “Have you been given the cold shoulder by anyone at your church because you didn't purchase their product/services?” Sadly, 38% said, “Yes.

5.  Mentioning Unrelated Personal Accomplishments When Speaking to an Audience. Having a college degree, a distinguished church title, or a unique certification is great. But they don’t always need to be communicated. So when they are communicated, they often come across as a brag. If they’re mentioned in order to distinguish and elevate the speaker above their listeners, then this is most definitely a self-promotion tactic. Remember the words of the wise King Solomon: “Let another man praise you; a stranger, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2).

6. Bragging on Family. We don't always think of this as self-promotion, but it is. People may think, "What's the big deal? It's not like I'm not promoting myself!" Maybe not, but they are promoting their family. From the, "My Child is an Honor Student of ______ School" bumper sticker, to "My Grandchild Won the ______ Award", to the social media posts intended to promote and elevate someone's family, it's all meant to tell people, "Look at my family and what they've accomplished!"

So, is it bad to tell someone about your career, your degree, your family, your church title, or side ministry? No...but with one disclaimer: only if you're asked about it. Think of someone in your life who is truly humble. Would they ever interject their personal accomplishments during a conversation to anyone? Of course they wouldn't. And how about Jesus? Did He tell everyone He met that He was the Son of God? Only when He was asked.

Take it from the Apostle Paul: "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had" (Philippians 2:3-5). 

We'd love to hear your comments and/or experiences on this topic!

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