What if You Promoted Someone Else’s Artwork?
Imagine an artist who promoted a new project with great zeal. Imagine that he consistently promoted the album, writing project, or whatever the artistic effort was, and that he did so happily. Imagine that a ton of people flocked to the project because of his efforts, they came to know and glorify the Lord through the work, and the project took off with apparent success!
Now imagine that an artist did all this, but he really saw no benefit from it. He didn’t make any money off of it, and promoting the project didn’t raise his profile. This all happened because, after all, it wasn’t his project he was promoting—it was yours. It was your project that took off; it was your profile that was raised, you had the joy of seeing others come to the Lord through your work.
What would you think of that artist who promoted you?
I offer this scenario because there’s a temptation to become territorial with our work and our ministries. It’s easily to believe that these things are ultimately “ours” instead of God’s. Yet God is the one who has given us gifts and ministries to steward (1 Cor. 4:2). One way to kill territorialism is to take up the really healthy practice of promoting other people, and there are three joys that come from doing so.
1. Promoting others gives us the joy of humility. Prideful people are dedicated to only promoting themselves. Humble people are happy to see others get the spotlight, and seeing Christ get the spotlight marks Christian humility. Think of John the Baptist’s words: “[Jesus] must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). As C.S. Lewis said, “humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less often.” Promoting other people’s ministries, other people’s artwork, reminds us that we are not the point, and that God works through more than just us.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been jealous at times of the opportunities other people have gotten. Such jealousy reflects a prideful heart, a self-consumed heart—one that is unable to be happy for someone else’s God-given opportunities. Yet promoting others helps us to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15). Do you see that participating in other people’s joy requires humility?
2. Promoting others gives us the joy of perspective. Imagine that you are a restaurant owner, there was a famine in your town, and people were dying. How odd would it be if you were upset that another restaurant opened in town and more people were being fed and given life? The reality for the Christians is that people are starving for God. The point is not whether or not they eat at our restaurants (i.e. they come to our church, or consume our art, our ministry, etc.); the point is that they find God!
This is the perspective Christians need for their ministries and work. We are laboring on behalf of Christ’s kingdom, but if we only promote ourselves, we may only be laboring on behalf of our kingdom, which is tantamount to building Babel. Perspective gives us the joy of seeing that we Christians are on the same team—team Jesus. [bctt tweet=”The point is not our own ministries growing; the point is the God who gives the growth. ” username=”humblebeast”]
Paul says this much to the Corinthians who were focusing a bit too much on a particular person’s ministry. Paul essentially corrects them by giving them perspective. He reminds the Corinthians that the people they’re admiring are just servants—they’re nothing. And they’re nothing because they can sow seed and water, but it’s God who gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:6).
3. Finally, promoting other people gives us the joy of being Christ-like. When we put other people’s interests before our own, we are being like our Savior. He did nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility he counted others more significant than himself. Paul commands us to do the same (Philippians 2:3). Doing this won’t necessarily always feel good or lead to a fleeting, happy feeling. But when we become more like Christ, we have the joy of knowing him better, and if there is truly nothing on earth we desire besides Christ, that is a joy worth pursuing.
More could be written, but those three things are enough for my selfish heart to begin with. Of course, promoting your own work isn’t inherently sinful or wrong; we don’t want to hide our lights under baskets (Matthew 5:15). Self-promotion can be a fine and good thing. Just remember that there is no good thing in this fallen world that our fickle hearts can’t quickly turn into a bad thing. Perhaps one way to determine whether or not promotion has become a bad thing in your heart is to prayerfully ask yourself:
[bctt tweet=”“When is the last time I happily promoted someone else’s ministry?”” username=”humblebeast”]