Tips for Self-Promotion: Reflections on Mark 9:30-37
6) You don't have a mentor.
Note to disciples: You have one. You just aren't listening to him.
7) You don't truly love your craft or product.
Note to disciples: You were attracted to Jesus and his message. But you are afraid. And if we had left everything to follow him and he started talking about suffering and death, we would be too. Mark 9:34 tells us that you didn't understand Jesus' words and "you (they) were afraid to ask him." You were probably afraid he would explain that his suffering would also become yours. Your ambivalence about Jesus' message will haunt and hamper you the whole way through this gospel. You don't love Jesus and his message enough to suffer for it—yet.
8) You spend all your time talking, not listening.
Note to disciples: Instead of promoting the long-term benefits of your product and services (as emissaries of Jesus), you are babbling about yourself. You need to be listening, engaging with people, and adding to the value of other people's lives (conversation).
9) You are not demonstrating credibility.
Note to disciples: You are not a walking advertisement for Jesus' good news. You lack credibility, because there is a gap between what you say and how you live. You consistently show lack of faith in your leader and his vision at the same time that you wrangle about how to get in good with him. This is a big waste of energy and doesn't make a good impression on the world around you.
10) You are not continually learning or adapting
Note to disciples: You never really get Jesus' message clearly enough to convey it to others, because you are stuck in what you want him to be and what you want your life with him to look like. You need to be open to continually learning and growing to be able to share his presence and message with others.
All my notes so far have been to first-century disciples. But a note to 21st-century disciples could have similar warnings against short-sighted thinking, inward focus, insecurity, rigidity, lack of integrity, and unwillingness to accept inconvenience and sacrifice for the sake of the gospel.
People complain that we are making the gospel a commodity these days. If so, we're not doing a very good job at selling it when our habits of thought and action violate basic and widely held principles of sales.
Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
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