Was Jesus a Self-Promoter?

Was Jesus a Self-Promoter? October 11, 2016

Personal Photo
Personal Photo

I’ve been working to reconcile myself to a reality I’ve been denying for years.

What’s that? People who get ahead are really good at tooting their own horns. And the very best of them trick us into doing it for them.

This has been difficult for me at a number of levels. Mostly because I find it distasteful (see here), and because I’m not sure how to reconcile that with the virtue of humility (see here).

I’m actually pretty good at the marketing/promotion game–when I was a youth pastor I tripled the size of my church youth group in one year using some pretty basic church growth techniques. Then, when I sold commercial real estate I went from zero to the number one listing agent in my market in one year.

But I’m really not impressed with myself for those things. Sure, I felt clever, but I also felt a little sleazy. I refuse to use the church growth stuff today. In part, it was a longing for God’s power, and not the magic of marketing, that drew me to the Reformed tradition.

Personal Photo
Personal Photo

But maybe I should think differently about all of this. After all, Jesus looks to me to be a master of self-promotion.

I can cite numerous examples: the tour of the Promised Land with strategic stops at points of local interest, the sending our of the 72 to do a little advanced scouting/marketing, the histrionics in the Temple and elsewhere (great attention grabber with the whip–no such thing as bad publicity), the canned messages that got repeated throughout the tour, along with the human tape-recorders (also know as disciples) who would repeat it all and write it down once he was gone, even the “don’t tell anyone about the healing” thing, brilliant move there, self-effacing, yet cagy. Who can keep such a secret? And these people didn’t, otherwise we wouldn’t know about the healings.

Personal Photo
Personal Photo

I could go on, but you get it.

He’s different, of course. He’s the Son of God and he intended to go to the cross on his way to glory. The rest of us can’t say those things–at least not the first thing.

But there is this intractable reality that I keep coming up against–not only does it look to me like self-promotion is the only way to get people reading my stuff, publishers tell me the same thing. (An editor at Regency lavished praise on me, then after meeting with his marketing people I was turned down for a book contract for NO OTHER REASON than this: I don’t market myself enough.)

The avatar for Mortimus Clay at Amazon.
The avatar for Mortimus Clay at Amazon.

So, this is the last time I’m going to complain about this. I’m just going to do it. But I’m going to try and lead with the message and bring myself along for the ride, not the other way around.

And as I do it I’m going to do my best to hide behind the message. I record this here for two reasons. First, to help people understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, and second to remind myself (both as a warning to stay behind the message, and as an a little pep-talk.)

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