Humility and how I achieved it….

“The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest….Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays.”
– E.B. White

In a recent post, pastor and author Kevin DeYoung referred to the “fetid pool” of self promotion in social media. He writes:

With all the tools of social networking and all the trappings of evangelical celebrity culture (whether in a hall with thousands of people or in your own circle of friends), we must all be vigilant against shameless self-promotion. Especially those of us who have a blog.

Now, aside from the fact that anyone using the word “fetid” is just looking for attention, he raises some interesting questions about the dangers of pride, especially for writers in a world where publishers and editors insist that promoting our own work is a necessity. As my colleague Mary Darling’s editor told her, her Midwestern humility was charming but she was going to have to get over it.

Carl Trueman’s rant on the subject seems a little over the top. He describes some of the self-promotion he sees, particularly by Christian authors, as “madness, stark staring, conceited, smug, self-glorifying madness of the most pike-staffingly obvious and shameful variety.”

It’s not a new problem, of course. Calvin seldom spoke of himself and was buried in an unmarked grave. Spurgeon, however, perhaps the most prolific preacher of all time, spoke of himself often and people lined the road for miles at his funeral. The Apostle Paul, while downplaying his pedigree defended his apostleship vigorously.

So here I am, trying to build a readership for my blog, sending out announcements on Twitter and posting an announcement on our church website. How does one think about this? Where does one draw the line?

At the ever-present risk of rationalizing, I do feel responsible for the stewardship of a gift, long recognized and encouraged by others. And I feel responsible for my message as well, and for the discipline of crafting it carefully.

So when someone links to my blog on Facebook or Twitter I’m happy. If they subscribe to my blog or forward the email I’m happy too. But is that the same thing as pride?

OK, so I admit that checking the metrics on my readership every fifteen minutes is a little obsessive, but shouldn’t I want people to read what I’m writing? And how will they hear without a Twitter?

Seriously, I could be just as proud of not asking people to read my blog. DeYoung notes: “Whatever humility I evidence, I bet half of it comes from not wanting to look proud.” But once we become proud of not promoting ourselves we’re right back where we started.

I like DeYoung’s solution- to look at Christ much more often than we look at ourselves. Ultimately a successful Christian blog depends on the integrity of the message and the messenger. Motives always matter. And readers will respond.

Speaking the truth in love will go a long way. But will it double your readers? Only if those who find it and like it refer it to others.

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

6 Responses to “Humility and how I achieved it….”

  1. This is definitely something I’ve struggled with! Thanks for putting it into words and working it out somewhat. Speaking the truth in love – good place to keep aiming.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. all the news unfit to print | the daysman - October 30, 2010

    […] TV) had some great points, and great examples. But the temptation for self-aggrandizement is great, as I’ve said before. This is especially true given that people can be famous for being famous. He was candid about this […]

  2. how to survive being “freshly pressed” | the daysman - February 10, 2011

    […] to your plan. Nothing much has really changed, except your ego. (See “Humility and how I achieved it”.) But you still need to do what you were noticed for in the first place. Be consistent and […]

  3. santa claus is coming to town | the daysman - August 17, 2012

    […] be sure to look for my post later this week about bragging. I’ve written before about the tension of self-promotion, and I’ve been thinking about an article on bragging in the Wall Street last Tuesday. Life is not […]

  4. thanks be to God | the daysman - August 21, 2012

    […] not saying this is easy, especially for a writer. But I am saying it’s […]

  5. writing as vocation | wallis c metts, jr., ph.d. - April 25, 2013

    […] of virtue. I’ve tried, unsatisfactorily, to wrestle with this from a Christian perspective. In one essay on my blogI respond directly to White’s quote above. I also thought about this once when I had over 13,000 […]

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