Ugly Self Promotion

As women, we are taught from a very young age that self-promotion is ugly. We’re not supposed to brag about our accomplishments. Today while teaching a community education class to a group of female entrepreneurs, one woman pointed out how much more true that notion is towards christian women. We are expected to be submissive, quiet, meek and mild. While all those qualities are good, they don’t serve us well in the business world or in ministry.

This, of course, got me thinking. First of all, where did we come up with this idea?! At what point did we decide that a christian woman should be a mouse that disappears into the background? How can we be successful business women, mothers, leaders in the community and yet authentically live up to biblical expectations and christian character?

Allow me to present “Exibhit A”: Proverbs 31. This chapter of the Bible describes the godly woman that is the example for all of us. This is the bar that has been set. There are several apparent attributes to point out about this female standard: 1) She is successful in business. 2) She plans ahead. 3) She is well-known and has a good reputation in the community. 4) She embodies strength and honor. 5) She does not tolerate gossip and idleness in her household.

How could a woman acheive any or all of those characteristics while being a doormat? In fact, she sounds to me like the strong, independent woman so many of us aspire to be. Clearly the Proverbs 31 woman is an example of gentle assertiveness and humble self-promotion. I would even say this proves we are called to be leaders in our homes, businesses, ministries, and families.

God created each of us (men, women, and children) for a unique purpose. Part of fulfilling that purpose may involve letting people know what you do for work and/or His kingdom. Or when you do something wonderful that God has created you to do and someone notices, it’s okay to simply say, “Thank you.” It’s not egotistical or prideful to humbly accept a compliment. And self-promotion can be done in such a way that it is not prideful or conceited. Think of it as making others aware of what you do and that you’re eager to serve rather than “tooting your horn” if it makes you feel better.

Last week, I taught at Celebrate Recovery meeting. Afterward, I had several people approach me and pour out their hearts, saying how something I shared had touched them deeply. Several others complimented on how powerfully and eloquently I’d delivered the message. I caught myself starting to say something cheesy like, “to God be the glory.” I stopped myself and just said, “thank you.” I realized in that moment that God gets all the glory because my message pointed to Him and it’s okay to accept a compliment. My message was not powerful just because I’m a good speaker all by myself. God gave me the gifts, talents, abilities and anointing to carry out a specific task. When I use those gifts to honor Him, He is glorified. It’s not about me. It’s about the work He does through me. Saying “thank you” when someone says “good job” doesn’t discredit God’s power and anointing.

A mentor of mine who often has pearls of wisdom flowing from her very being told a group of women once, “We should take a cue from men. They enter the world with confidence. It doesn’t matter how much weight they gain or how they look compared to the next guy. They say, ‘Look at me! I’m a man, created in God’s image, and I’m awesome.'” She’s absolutely right. While we women are wasting time comparing our (unique) selves to the other unique women in the world, worrying if we’re the right size, shape or color and wondering how we’re being perceived, men are getting the jobs we want and filling some of the roles we were designed to perform.

Today, know that you are uniquely powerful as God created you to be. Walk in that by confidently speaking about what you do and accepting compliments graciously with a simple, “Thank you.”

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. -Joshua 1:7

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