Show off

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

Matthew 5:15

I hear a lot of talk, especially in Christian writer circles, about how a person is supposed to remain humble yet still market our work. Aren’t they mutually exclusive?

In many of the message boards and writers groups I belong to, I see a lot of writers showing off their works, whether it be adding links to a glowing review, a sales page, or contest for a newly released novel.

Honestly I find it a little tiresome. Many of the authors write it in such a way as to make it all about their accomplishments. Could my reaction be based on envy? Perhaps maybe a little, but not much. Mostly it’s because I’m also a writer who is more eager to sell than to buy.

But that’s getting a bit off-topic.

Many are truly interested in sharing God’s love, and the only way to do that is to tell people about it. To not say anything is like telling the dancer to dance only in the basement, the singer to sing only in the shower and the actor to only act out scenes in front of a mirror.

It’s a fine line when promoting the Message becomes promoting the Self. How are we to tell the difference? And equally important, how are others to tell the difference, myself included?

As a reader I count how many times the writer says “me”, “myself” and “I”. It’s not the only test, to be sure, because it simply can’t be helped. It is, after all, their story, regardless of the One who inspired it.

There’s one person who posts a lot (and I mean a lot) on a message board I frequent. This person is always informing us of recent sales — both novels and short stories. She constantly adds links to her blog and website, and informing us of her current novel’s progress.

I can’t help but wonder if she’s crossed the line from shining God’s light to shining her own. Granted it’s not for me to judge, but I can’t help but fear I will cross that line myself — by the mere act of telling people my novel won a contest or is in the hands of a publisher.

That’s not bragging, but mere stating of fact — facts I know people want to know about my writing journey.

As Rush Limbaugh often says, “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.”

I think we as Christians have taken humility to such an extreme we hide our light — our God-given talents — under a bush. In many ways we even take pride in our humility. How’s that for a contradiction? Or we’re so afraid of becoming too prideful, it’s safer to say nothing.

That being the case, then God wasted his time on giving us the drive and talent to write. Yes, we should write as if God was our only audience, but God has greater intentions than his — and our — personal satisfaction.

God loves to show off, and if anyone should, it’s him. All he’s asking in return is for us to help him do that with our talents, as in my case, through words.

But that’s enough about me 😉

5 thoughts on “Show off

  1. Andra, yes, that’s a hard one, and so many authors constantly say how much they hate to market. It is draining, as opposed to talking about someone else’s book. I’m constantly pulled between wondering if I’m doing too much or not enough. According to the many “experts” I’ve read, I’m seriously behind, but I often feel like I’m overdoing it.

    I don’t know. I think you’re right and it’s the same as a dancer. When she shows off herself, she shares that beauty with others. When writers market their books, they’re (hopefully) talking about a product that will give entertainment or education or some of both to others. It’s symbiotic, so as long as it’s not pushed too far so the author is more a leech than a give-and-take vessel sharing that God-given talent, it should be fine. After all, we all have the right to earn a living. 😉

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  2. Whew! For a moment, I thought you were writing about me (does that make me self-centered? hehe!)! You could be writing in code, if “message board” really means “blog.”
    But I know exactly the phenomenon you’re talking about. I instantly thought of a couple people irksomely monotonous in their “horn-blowing.” As in, no message or email or post can be without “this is why I’m more qualified than you to tell you about….” I can’t pinpoint why it’s so irksome. Maybe it’s a case of showing vs telling. Stop telling me how great you are and show me you even care I exist.
    I’m not humble. Never have been. But at least I know I’m arrogant for no reason and make fun of myself about it (and invite others to do the same or call me out). It’s the folks who don’t seem to recognize their arrogance that annoy me.
    Like the little kid on the playground constantly yelling “watch me!” while doing nothing. No thanks. Got my own monkeybars to conquer.
    Hmm. Does that sound more arrogant than usual for me? I can’t tell anymore.

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  3. Loraine: “. . . and we all have the right to earn a living.” That’s the real rub. We can’t make money if we don’t sell, and we can’t sell if we don’t market. But if we’re so busy marketing, when to we have the time to write? Hmm. Maybe I should hire a publicist, but first I’ll have to sell enough books to afford one. Wait. How does that work?

    Robynn: Hee, hee. No, I wasn’t writing about you. Blogs I actually treat differently. Those are supposed to be about the person writing them. I don’t see you arrogant at all, but quite funny and thoughtful. But that’s enough about you 😉

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  4. That’s why God created press agents, who can scream ‘Andra is the best thing since beans on toast!!!’, and you get to look all humble and shy.

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