About that personal branding conversation

Recently on social media I slammed what I called “personal branding” and included a screen shot of a piece of a text conversation in which I not only said that all the personal branding out in the social media world made me want to puke (it does) but so did the “people of the brand.” The latter was pretty stupid since I made no attempt to define what I meant by personal branding or to identify whom I meant by the people of the brand. In one broad sweep, I inadvertently threw the whole Christian publishing world under the bus and, this, after working with teams of godly people in publishing who were not remotely on my mind. Forgive me for that.

The slam was toward what I see as a deadly viral infiltration within a much larger force that, for lack of a better label, we often call the industry. This term, too, is unfairly broad-sweeping because there are individuals working within it with godly character, motives and practices. Good Lord, I want to be one of them and clamor and struggle and fight to be among them. Sometimes I win the fight for my soul and other times I don’t. But the tweet started a conversation online that went on for days and made it obvious to Karen Swallow Prior (who also published an article today) and me that a nerve had been hit. We watched dialogues ensue between many women out there who are frustrated, trying to do what it takes to build a platform and yet avoid getting sucked into the maelstrom.

This post is to give a little more space than Twitter can offer to the subject. I’ll try to be as straightforward as I know how in what I meant by personal branding and should have made clearer at the time: Self-sales.

By the people of the brand I meant those who do it ad nauseam and those who train, coax, pressure or help people to. I’m not talking about selling books. I’m talking about selling ourselves, though let’s admit the two can be about as easy to separate as the peanut butter and jelly in your sandwich. Selling our souls doesn’t always involve money. I could sell my soul just for the power of having a blog that attracts hundreds of thousands of readers. It’s about notoriety, an understandable and legitimate goal out in the world market. But we are Jesus followers.

We’re attempting to sell ourselves in the name of Jesus. We’re being tutored in the post-Christian modern art of self-glory for God’s glory.

We’re intentionally building up followers and followings for ourselves and excusing it and confusing it with building up the church. I know, I know. We’ve all heard this a thousand times.

“None of us like it,” we’ll reason. “But this is the world we live in. This is how it is now. We didn’t come up with it but we have to accept it. It’s a (here goes) necessary evil.”

The thing is, “necessary evil” is still evil. I don’t think that excuse is flying with Jesus. For Jesus-followers, “necessary evil” is an oxymoron.

If we don’t push back against this mudslide, the church will become the Tower of Babel with a cross on top: an assemblage of people who’ve been successfully seduced into thinking it’s perfectly acceptable to hammer daily in the public sphere building up a name for ourselves in Jesus’ Name.

We’re trying to become godly versions of 2 Timothy 3:2-4.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

We’re out there in front of the world trying to be godly lovers of self, godly lovers of money, godly proud and arrogant, godly slanderous, godly brutal, godly treacherous, and godly conceited and godly about how we love pleasure more than we love God.

We’re fighting a losing battle at the cost of our souls. There is no godly way to self-promote. Yet God’s way of spreading the hope, truth and life of Christ is still through people and, yes, in part by making use of their personalities. Sometimes it’s a fine line and it’s up to each of us to learn how to identify when we’re crossing it. We’re people of the Spirit. If we yearn for Him to, plead for Him to, He will be more than happy to cause us to gross ourselves out when we’re doing it. I ask for it just like that. In those words. Ask to know quickly. Ask to know before you post or even seconds after it. Maybe one of the godliest features in all of social media is “delete.” Also trust your gut when you know you’re being advised to do something in order to build a following or sell a book that feels gross.

What troubles me most is that I believe many individuals start with a pure heart and God-infused desire. We deeply want to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ and testify to His greatness, His goodness, His grace, His cross, His forgiveness, cleansing, healing and love. All these avenues – books, blogs, podcasts, live broadcasts, social media posts and so on – offer tremendous means of communicating the gospel and, with diligence, some actual discipleship. But I’ve been neck-deep in this now for well over 30 years. I’ve lived long enough, experienced enough, witnessed enough and heard enough to tell you point-blank the devil doesn’t take a potential threat to the darkness lying down. He can’t sleep with a light on so he does everything he can to cover it. If he can’t get us to quit, he’ll settle for making us hypocrites and narcissists and, in the wording of Galatians 3:3, what we started in the Spirit we end up finishing in the flesh.

He’s shockingly patient and scheming because the same approach doesn’t work across the board. He studies us, knowing that all humans by undisciplined-nature are addicts. All he has to do is figure out what kind of crack to put in your pipe and the seduction is on.

The seduction we’re talking about here is being known. Seen. Heard. To be worshipped would be the ultimate but that may be too obvious. The sickest part is that we’re being intoxicated into thinking that all of this is to make Jesus known. Self-promotion becomes justifiable as the means to the end-goal of Jesus-promotion.

It’s not working. It’s never going to work.

And yet this is the world you and I were entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ to serve. I don’t know what you’re going to do with all of this. I’m probably not going to drop off social media any time soon because it’s one of the most effective ways of reaching people that we have ever had at our fingertips. I’m also probably not going to make all my posts blatantly gospel-oriented because, for me, that can become just as showy and smug and, if it’s all I do, I lose access to the very people I hope most to reach. I try to retain some common ground (TV shows, for instance) if I want people on the other side of the street to occasionally come sit in my yard and visit. This may not be your way but it’s mine for now. It’s not without risk but none of this is.

I’m going to keep trying to live a tiny sliver of my life out there on social media in hopes Jesus will be evident in my teaching, relating, writing, dialoguing, mothering, grandmothering, friending, suffering, questioning, laughing and crying. And I’m going to plead with God every morning to help me die to my own rotting flesh and live in His Spirit and not misuse my big mouth. And I’m going to try to sit at this social media bar for a few minutes every day without becoming an alcoholic. If I can’t do it, I’m going to quit. Or at least go into rehab. Because this place is deadly.

I don’t have tidy solutions to offer in this post. What shifts into sin for one person may not be sinful for another. God looks at our hearts. Knows our motives. He’s onto our bull. He alone can call out a well-played humble brag. All I know how to do is repent on my face for my own sins and catch myself in my own self-promotions.

There is a way to do this, I think. It’s just expensive. It just won’t be the money-maker or the power broker going forward that we could acquire if we do the Jesus-thing the world’s way. All who push back will take a pay cut, whatever form of currency their pay may be. The answer will be found in serving God as faithfully and as purely as human hearts and souls know how and let Him build His own following and determine who listens to what voice and when. As the saying goes, let each of us tend to the depth of our ministries and let God tend to the breadth. The fight will be fierce and let me promise you this: should Jesus entrust you with a large platform for a season, you will never be more at risk of compromise and cowardice than when you are at the top tier. You may reach some heights doing the honest-to-God Jesus-thing but the greater temptation will be the attempt  to stay on top. What goes up must come down. Fight it and you’ll make a fool of yourself. Stay steady on your feet on the Merry-Go-Round and you just might still be standing when the music quits playing and the amusement park closes.

I want to make it. I want you to, too. I want to get to that finish line keeping my eyes on the One waiting for me there. I want to love Jesus with everything in me and serve Him audaciously and faithfully. I think it’s possible out here. I just don’t think it’s probable. It will only happen for those who are willing to fight their flesh to the death by the power of the Spirit holding tight to His Word.

This is what I know for certain. It would be unspeakably better for us to drop into obscurity than sell our souls. We may have to make the biggest sacrifice in our entire social media culture: we may have to settle for being unknown.

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

2 Corinthians 6:3-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 6:3–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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138 Responses to “About that personal branding conversation”

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Charity H says:

    Thank you for this post. Thank you for the tweet stream I read the other day and for being forthright in your intentions and living Jesus on the daily! You are such a beautiful inspiration to my soul.

  2. 2
    Betty M says:

    Ya know, Beth, I didn’t get at all what you were referring to in that tweet and now that I have been locked outta my twitter account I could not even ask you to clarify it.
    It’s probably okay that I no longer can tweet to you. I have to admit it made my day to get a like or a reply from you.
    So much we do is laced with pride that is why God is not impressed with our good works becuz let’s face it, even our good we do is self centered.
    I like the way you admit your daily need of forgiveness etc becuz we see so much we do is just that for our own self preservation. We want our books to sell, seats be taken up in arenas, tickets bought. After all that is what pays the bills.
    The danger for us is when we worship the teacher ISO the One Who teaches. The danger for you is when you begin to trust yourself over our Lord God.
    Every teacher I have been priveleged to learn under has been in error and as such I never want to be beholden to all one teacher writes or teaches we are not infallible as our Lord is.
    Still I love you to death. It was something you taught in your Daniel study that clicked in me and since then I have been more on fire for the Lord than ever. It moved me towards a more active ministry. I have started writing and some of my studies have even reached international levels. I have limited time and resources but I know whatever I have to give to the Lord He will multiply a thousand fold.
    We have to be careful that we are not trying to impress our Lord with these good works becuz in the end that is not our saving grace. We are saved becuz of what our Savior won for us in his death and resurrection. IT IS STILL ALL ABOUT JESUS!!
    Bless you dear and much love to you. Prayers and love sent your way!
    A Front Row Follower!
    Betty M

  3. 3
    Kathy Mackey says:

    Amen!Amen!Amen!

    My ladies group is doing Entrusted. I hesitated recommending for many reasons. But, God kept nudging me. I obeyed, thinking someone needs this lesson. That someone is ME!!! And more I’m certain. You are truly an anointed teacher. My husband is a pastor of a very small church…he and I watch each sessi before our ladies study. We discuss and glean from your teachings. Thank you for using your gift. I’d love to sit across the table and talk with you. But until then, video is great!
    Blessings and hugs.

  4. 4
    Kelly says:

    Wow. I saw the original tweet, but didn’t understand what you were talking about. Now I do… I think.

    • 4.1
      Carol says:

      Me too! I’m still not quite sure I understand.

      • Paula Bean says:

        Here is how I understand it… Self-Branding is a social media marketing term. For example, I sell beauty supplies via social media. It is important for my people to see me as the brand instead of the supplies. So it is a technique learned. The more people see me, the more they buy into the product. I am guessing Beth is approaching the same technique but pointed at women who are trying to make it as Christian authors, speakers… their desire, while starting in the right place, may shift from marking disciples to making money and a name for themselves as a Christian author or speaker. That is just what Inunderstand.

  5. 5
    Paula Fletcher says:

    Amen and thank you for explaining “self-branding”… and for reminding us that God is onto our bull. What freedom lies in being real. XOXO from KY.

  6. 6
    Amy Beth says:

    You mention how you want your social media to show Jesus active through different areas of your life which made me smile because, while I know you are a wonderful Bible teacher, author, etc., I personally admire you more for being a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother. For years I have thought that, if I had the chance to sit down and talk with you, I want ask you questions about being a wife, mother, grandmother, etc. — not necessarily questions about deep theological topics. The kindness you have shown to your family and the way in which you have prioritized them over the years is what makes you such a role model in my book. The other things — the books and LPL’s — are wonderful and admirable. But I admire you most for how you behave in your relationships on any given Thursday night.

  7. 7
    Kathleen says:

    Beth,

    I have followed the twitter feed and am so encouraged by you and Karen Swallow Prior, who I also highly respect. Your thoughts were a kind but honest admonishment that needed to happen sooner than later. This Social Media Beast is getting out of control and we keep feeding the chained tiger.

    I have worked in non-vocational ministry for 35+ years, just doing what God has called me to do (Entrusted with Gospel and Gift to Share) in the trenches with one on one discipleship and loving it, though a daily dying to self and tough grind. My discontentment has come these past years as I see so many “celebs” on social media and then my questions to the Lord, started to be, “Lord, why are you allowing them to get paid for what I do for free every day.” Not only for free but I have to work in a job that I don’t love in order to fund my passion and gifting in ministry. Help a sister out. Well, struggling with this for a couple of years now, thought, maybe I should pursue this. So, in the past months, did speaker/author training with with CLASS in my city as well as , taking and online writing course with two well known individuals I highly respect in faith, and both have encouraged promoting branding and building platform. So I started to try but didn’t feel right, especially with everyone going that way. It’s a feeding frenzy. I thought I should want it, but why? I’ve always been ok behind the scenes. Like everything else satan twists, he creates and allures with other affections when and when God is not our main Affection we are duped. NO THANK YOU!

    Then praise the Lord, a couple of weeks ago happened to be one of few to participate in Propel WTP workshop with your the amazing woman who leads it (thank God for both of you running in the same direction!) who said, she did nothing to build her platform, it was all people watching her serve that opened doors for what she does now. I wanted to cry tears of thanksgiving for her to say that out loud. Further, I then went to TGC17 only to hear Tim Keller say the same thing in a workshop. “Why would you want a platform, just minister to the people that God has you with.”

    The icing on the cake after last weeks FB posts was your gentle behind the scenes way of addressing things with Grace and Love to begin a week long twitter thread ending in an amazing article by KSP and now blog from you Beth! I wanted to dance for joy and truly thanked God for KSP, BM and CC, who said out loud, what my heart thought and what so many need to hear. “Do your work as unto the Lord” whether anyone sees or not.

    A million time thank you, Beth! I said this is a cold cup of water, a pat on the back on mile 20 of a 26.2 mile marathon. I am tired, so tired in the trenches, but want to finish the race well and without selling my soul. I want to keep my eyes fixed for the only One who I care meets me at the finish line. Like Paul, run the race, fight the fight, keep the faith. I cannot wait for the PRIZE! He is all, He is enough, He is better than 10,000 likes or a book contract.

    I long for the day when I can hug you in heaven! Well done sister, well done!

    Kathleen

    • 7.1
      Nancy says:

      Kathleen,
      What a beautiful response. And how right you are! “Do your work unto the Lord” whether any earthly body sees you or not. Because, for certain our Almighty God sees you, loves you and gifts you daily to do what you are doing. Continued blessings Kathleen!

      Nancy

      • Kathleen says:

        Nancy,

        Blessings to you sister in Christ! We will all continue to encourage one another and after all, He is the “God who sees.” Our labor is not in vain, and our prize will be so wonderful, to meet Him face to face. I can taste it, right around the corner!

        God Speed, sister!

        Kathleen

    • 7.2
      Donna says:

      Kathleen, along with Beth’s words, yours have encouraged me greatly. Thank you for sharing. These are things the Lord really needed my heart to hear.

      • Kathleen says:

        Donna,

        We will continue to encourage each other to keep on! You matter to the Lord and your ministry in whatever way it takes shape is not in vain!

        Linking arms sister!

        Kathleen

  8. 8
    Holly Smith says:

    It’s something I think about often, since I work with so many authors doing their sites, and I love to write, as well, but I shy away from the publishing part, because I would never want to be known. I want to make Jesus known. Then there is the opportunity we have in the vehicle of the online world, which would astound people, even 25 years ago. For me, it is a prayerfully fine line, as I serve others, who point to Jesus. We just need to think of ourselves as signposts, pointing to Jesus. And when we get caught up in judgment of others and whether or not they are handling it rightly, I find that that too grieves the Lord. Here is my line, my take on it–if someone asks me (gives me permission to speak into their place and space and their how), I will tell them, point to Jesus and get out of the way. But if they are not and I have no relationship with them, at all, then I have no right to speak. I may then take it to the Lord in prayer. All I’m saying is I get low and I pray. Then if the Lord wants to bless anything I have written or spoken or carried out in my work, then all glory goes to Him. I praise Him for it and don’t dwell there–not letting my right hand know what the left is doing. It’s a daily pick up our cross and following Him deal–daily I fail and daily I take up those fresh mercies and go on in His steps, thanking Him for inviting me to join Him in His work. Love you, Beth. Love your heart that cares for others more than yourself to the glory of Jesus.

  9. 9
    Leah Kirksey says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s obvious that you have strived to stay on the crucify-the-flesh side of this fame monster. I am not in an arena of public fame, but even in church ministry, this is an evil. I have mainly seen it in social media platforms. I’m finally at the place of barely on there anymore, but I do attempt to be real about my faith and relationship with Jesus. Let’s keep praying for fellow Christ-followers and exposing sin by truth-in-love for Believer’s and the world alike. Love you, Mrs. Beth!

  10. 10
    Teri Lynne Underwood says:

    I so appreciate these words. I finished the Entrusted study a couple of weeks ago and was deeply changed through studying Paul’s words to Timothy. We’re called to run the race in front of us. I can’t run your race and you can’t run mine. And comparing our races is impossible because they are not the same.

    But it’s hard to remember that. It’s hard to stay focused on Jesus … to remember He alone is the prize. Last night I had my own “come to Jesus” moment and realized how much I need to remember my platform is where I am standing right now—the people I have the opportunity to speak into with my words and my life.

    It’s a gift to be able to teach the Word and write and speak and even have a book published. A good and perfect gift … but not a gift I’ve earned or deserve because I’m so good, it’s a gift given by the Good Father who has entrusted me with a message about Himself. When I lose sight of that, the foundation of whatever platform I have will fail. Every single time.

  11. 11
    Mollie says:

    Anyone who has followed you, Beth, for any period of time knows your heart is bigger than the state of Texas or your hair on a really good day! Those who follow you in spirit, know that they are following you, who is following Jesus. What we’ve lost most in recent culture of social media is relationship based on relationship. The only ‘who you know’ that matters is Jesus and next those with whom you invest in relationship–the good, the hard and the messy. While I didn’t see the first remark, I will always give you the benefit of knowing you over time. You have poured out everything for so many, for so long. Thank you. You are a model of someone who gets real and personal and humble in a very public platform. I’m sorry for the headaches. But I thank God for your courage and love.

  12. 12
    Mari says:

    I love you, Beth! I didn’t see any of your tweets, but ditto and amen! I was telling a friend that this whole social media marketing and promoting thing frustrates me. I know there’s a way to use the means we have to get the word out, but I don’t want followers, a tribe, a community of people who can’t wait to hear what I have to say. My hope and prayer is that anything I say encourages people to seek what God says. It’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus. Rather than tell me how much they love something I post, I hope it stirs conversations amongst those with whom they meet. I hope they earnestly pursue God’s truth, not my interpretation of it. I hope they are compelled to make changes in their lives because they’ve sought God’s counsel and they want to be obedient to Him. I just want to be a brick alongside so many other bricks who are building on the foundation laid by others. I want to be obedient to Christ myself. You’re words are a great encouragement.

  13. 13
    Jc says:

    Thank you a million times over for this. Puts tears in my eyes. You put into words my desperate longing for obscurity- the heart’s longing (ok, fine. mine) for recognition is just so powerful that I prefer to remain unseen. Although recently I’ve realized sometimes that is inauthentic because I portray a dumbed down version of me that is not accurate, so there’s conviction on the other side too. I also don’t give when it’s good and right to do so.

    I’m so thankful to see “celebrities” address something that has me at real odds with Christian culture these days. For a while now in fact. I’m so afraid to speak to anyone about it for fear of being too cynical. But this is beyond refreshing. I really wonder if there is something too individualistic in our messages that is contributing. I also wonder what humility and walking this line looks like for publishing companies who in some way seem to be contributing to the problem as well.

    Just thank you. I couldn’t thank you enough for addressing the elephant, if in no one else’s mind but my own.

  14. 14
    Sue Hamilton says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I am getting close to my release of a memoir in November 2017. I have feared many of the things you spoke of & needed to hear every word you shared. Thank you so much!

  15. 15
    Lori G. says:

    The Lord has been speaking to me about this issue lately. He asked me to confess this and wait on Him and trust Him to bring connections. The next day a publisher wrote me that she would be calling me soon about a book I wrote. In the world we live in its easy to self promote when waiting on God to guide us to where He wants us is harder. For me I had to learn to avid self promotion from experiencing it and having it fall flat. I’m glad I was able to learn the lesson.

  16. 16
    Shelly Elston says:

    “This is what I know for certain. It would be unspeakably better for us to drop into obscurity than sell our souls. We may have to make the biggest sacrifice in our entire social media culture: we may have to settle for being unknown.”

    Yes, Ma’am! That was a mighty fine post and I will be re-reading it all day. I often make blunders on my social media posts or share too much or promote myself or my things. Ick. And I sometimes think I cross the line into preaching…and, honestly, I wonder if ‘this post will bring me more followers’. But I mean that in a holy way, of course. Gross, gross, gross. Thank you for the conversation and the space that we can re-examine motives and facades. I adore you.

  17. 17
    Jc says:

    And also, I should add, those of us followers are surely adding to the problem too by idolizing our leaders rather that taking what they give and giving our praise directly to God. So, while it’s easy to point fingers, no doubt leaders to some extent are probably just “giving the people what they want.”

  18. 18
    Amy says:

    Great points! Thank you for clarifying.

  19. 19
    Jenn M says:

    Thank you Beth for posting this! Thank you for remaining true to the gospel in all that you do. In a culture swirling with “self” this was so REFRESHING.

    The familiar quote

    “Hitler had millions of followers, Jesus had 12”

    came to mind while reading this. Thank you for the reminder that “He’s onto our bull. He alone can call out a well-played humble brag”…so true! Thanks for keeping it real and staying true to the word. Hugs to you from Ohio!

  20. 20
    Ashley says:

    I just ended a very sweet time with the Lord where we are working through my hang ups with being misunderstood and pressing into my identity in Him and not only loving Him but letting Him love me back, not because I perform for Him but because I’m His daughter. I’ve been convicted To stop listening to too many voices and zero in on His. I missed all of it on Twitter and came across this post. I do post daily on social media about what the Lord is speaking to me and over several years gained some following, and yes the show pony in me must be put down regularly.
    I know the Lord is faithful and He knows who are His. He is faithful to discipline and correct and remove and rebuke and those who want to truly love Him with every ounce of their being and want to live their lives on their faces before Him will allow themselves to be yanked up by Him, because their heart is to please Him. There are still those people out there posting daily who also wrestle over their desire to rat race it and self promote and who give in and confess and repent and listen again and walk away if He says so or share again if He says so.
    i love you for speaking truth, even when it hurts. I’ve grown up with you since Believing God
    days and I so value your insights and take great weight in what you say but I get really confused on this point, maybe because I’m all or nothing? I am desperate to please the Lord, more than anything I want to listen to Him and obey Him. I attended LIT and I’m trying to be faithful and obedient, encourage other women who are called and keep my nose in His word. I don’t want this culture to lul me into fame seeking and be happy to slap a Jesus sticker on it and call it holy. Lord send me to Africa to serve people who don’t even know what a Twitter is, I will do it if you want me to. I’ll walk away from every last post if He wants me to, but what if He is calling some of us to that space? Is that possible? I see it everywhere and it makes me gag as well, but can we participate in any way without feeding the beast? I really do want Jesus plus nothing. Lord help.

  21. 21
    Jan Schumacher says:

    Very put, Beth. I appreciate your authenticity.

  22. 22

    Beth,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for having this conversation, both on Twitter and right here. I’m in several author support groups of new-ish published authors and speakers (private groups on Facebook and Voxer) and we’re all just struggling through this thing. And we’ve been all talking about your posts, and so grateful for you leading the conversation. Truly, we can’t thank you enough.

  23. 23
    Lynne says:

    I have to admit that at first I had no idea what you were talking about by “personal branding.” The only thing that came to mind was tattoos!

    I always enjoy your books and Bible studies. You are the sort of person I would love to have as a neighbor. IMO, the best thing to do with Tweets that get out of hand is to ignore them. If you accidentally Tweet something that you later realize didn’t sound right, just delete it.

    Keep up the good work!

  24. 24
    Martie Carter says:

    Several years ago I was talking with a young woman who was on my worship team. I asked her what her goals were, and she said that she wanted to someday lead thousands of people in worship. Others want to be conference leaders and speak to thousands. I have always wrestled with those concepts. “Sitting down, Jesus called the 12 and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and servant of all.” It seems to me that the goal should always be to serve those in our immediate sphere of influence first, our families, our church, our neighbors. If Jesus has called us to something more, than as we are faithful in the things He gives us to do, He will expand our sphere of influence if He desires for our good and His glory and to further His kingdom. As I read your story, that is how God began in His work with you. May we never want to be the famous one. May we daily seek to glorify His name and point the world to Him. He alone is the Famous One.

    • 24.1
      Stacy says:

      Yes, Martie! For several years now, I have felt a calling to travel, teach, and speak. Having said that, it felt like a “someday” call rather than a “now” call. Instead, for now, God has a plan for me to serve where I am…to show that I am content where He has planted me, to simply love those whom He has placed in my path, and to be faithful with any gifts He has bestowed upon me within my “now” sphere of influence. Wouldn’t you know it, that over the past 3 years as I have sought to do just that, that He has taught me just how prideful I am, and shown me how I DO seek the approval and social media “likes” of others, etc. AND…He has shown me that I still have a ways to go in regard to fully submitting those gifts back to Him as well! I still believe He has that eventual calling for me, but I also believe he is pruning me for that season, as I would have been a mess had He released me straight to it. I am so thankful for His timing, and for His patience with me…He is such a good Father. Praying that He receives all of the glory now AND in the midst of whatever He has for me in the future as well! <3

      • Nancy says:

        Thank you Stacy for writing this. This is where I am and I so much needed to see this. A new season is awaiting me but I too need to learn to be content where I am and do what he has for me right now, right here. As Beth said once we need to watch and be wary of becoming addicted to our callings. We want them so badly we forget to listen to God first and be that single candle in the dark, alone, not a brilliant mass but able to guide just one. You touched me! Thanks again, sister.

  25. 25
    Marie Griffith says:

    Thank you and Karen Swallow Prior for your articles.

  26. 26
    Martha McElveen-Danforth says:

    Wow! What an awesome and though-provoking post! Please know that you and your ministry will be in my prayers. Blessings to you!

  27. 27
    Susan Shipe says:

    Beth,first of all I AM A FAN of yours. Love your books, your studies, your speaking. But, allow me this. I am a self published writer, publishing on Amazon and I do use Social Media to promote my books. On my blog, I have a BOOKS page with my links to Amazon. If I mention a book or a product in my blog, I do have an affiliate link to the product at Amazon. A 25. item might bring 5 cents to the blogger.
    All of that being said, I am not compromising my convictions nor am I compromising the Word of God. I am not set up on the porch of the Temple selling sacrificial lambs. I do not have LIFEWAY promoting my books, I wish I did then I’d never have to say another word.
    I am all about speaking Truth and shining Light and perhaps I get a paid for hand lotion with my Amazon affiliate proceeds at the end of the quarter and I offer my apologies if this offends any of my sisters in Christ.
    God bless you. Keep blazing for Jesus, that’s what I’m doing too!
    xo

  28. 28
    Lesley says:

    “Sometimes it’s a fine line and it’s up to each of us to learn how to identify when we’re crossing it. We’re people of the Spirit. If we yearn for Him to, plead for Him to, He will be more than happy to cause us to gross ourselves out when we’re doing it. I ask for it just like that. In those words. Ask to know quickly. Ask to know before you post or even seconds after it. Maybe one of the godliest features in all of social media is “delete.” Also trust your gut when you know you’re being advised to do something in order to build a following or sell a book that feels gross.”

    I have found that this is the key. I KNOW when I’ve crossed that line, and you’re right, it makes me almost literally sick to my stomach. There are full days when I feel a distaste for the entire social media game, and I attribute this, too, to the Spirit, graciously distancing me for a bit from the online world that would gladly devour my soul…that I would gladly LET devour my soul, for if I was left on my own, how delicious it would all be.

    But to have this power to walk away, to press ‘delete’, to refrain from the supposed “necessary” tricks for building an audience…it’s very faith-bolstering, for how and why would we ever do those things if we didn’t belong to God? Why would we ever choose to die to ourselves and our ambition if not for the new hearts He has given us? I’m so thankful for the Spirit of God, for helping me navigate these murky, murky waters and for never leaving me to my own desires and wishes.

    This was a fantastic article, further writing these truths on my heart. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.

  29. 29
    Christen says:

    So much truth in this. Thank you for posting.

  30. 30
    Ann Thiede says:

    Thank you, Beth, for this reminder:

    If we yearn for Him to, plead for Him to, He will be more than happy to cause us to gross ourselves out when we’re doing it. I ask for it just like that. In those words. Ask to know quickly. Ask to know before you post or even seconds after it. Maybe one of the godliest features in all of social media is “delete.”

    Love you.

  31. 31
    Lori Shamblin says:

    Ms. Beth,
    I am not on twitter, but a young lady in my Sunday School class sent me screen shots of the twitter posts, because we have been discussing that exact point lately. I teach a class of women between 20-40 years of age, and a few who are older. I see it in young and old alike. I have felt the enemy’s tempting to take part. I APPLAUDED your twitter posts. Literally. When I read your blog post, clarifying your stance, my applause only grew louder. You are a truth teller, Ms. Beth. And funny thing about the truth…. one rarely stumbles upon it. The ear that is finely tuned to the voice of God will hear it above all the noise, but only the brave will submit to it AND then share it. Thank you, thank you for knowing it is His platform, for we know He only lets us crawl up on it, stand real close to Him, and share what His precious Holy Spirit shares through us. Otherwise, we made our own platform. And He will not stand on it. So we draw others eyes away from Him if we do that.
    I have prayed for you. Prayed that God would protect you, for 38 year old sisters in Christ like me are DESPERATE for the the generation before us to teach us WISDOM and GODLINESS! You are a champion and true to the calling AND the One who called you. Thank you, love.

  32. 32
    Karen Miller says:

    As a Media Director, I welcome and encourage these kinds of conversations. Thank you for putting your thoughts in writing!
    P.S. I wanted to click “like” on each reply.

  33. 33
    Michèle says:

    So very well said, and crystal clear. R E S P E C T (just a little bit)

  34. 34
    Donna says:

    Amen to that Beth. Thanks for sharing your heart. We all know that we must keep up the fight against Satan and will be attacked when we least expect it.

    • 34.1
      Pam says:

      Sweet Beth, you speak the hearts and minds of so many Christian women. Thank you for giving us the words filled with wisdom as they always point to Jesus! And, He wants us to connect and laugh by sharing pics of our dogs, loved ones, and things of the heart. We walk alongside each other and it is a joy.

  35. 35
    Jes says:

    Dear Beth,

    As I read your post today, it brought to mind my own recent conviction about this topic:

    “I have not been willing to see this thing God told me today. I’ve caught glimpses and edged by it without really looking. I told myself it wasn’t really there, but today I saw it full on. It would be easier to continue ignoring it, but I just can’t, not with it staring me in the face now, not if I want to live with integrity.

    I’ve secretly dreamed of writing and speaking for years, but never believed I had anything to say, never believed anyone would find my words worth reading or listening to. I believed that the dream had to be pride talking. When people started to speak this dream as a possible reality for me, I was surprised, but then I began to entertain the tiniest hope that it might be true, that maybe the dream in me was put there by God after all.

    Here’s the thing that my Jesus stared me down with today: there resides in me the desire to make a name for myself. My heart is impure and self-serving. There is a part of me that wants to write and speak for money and fame. Ah, it’s so ugly! But there it is.

    Oh, but this conviction is layered in grace! I’m so sad; brokenhearted by this ugly thing…yet I don’t feel condemned. Instead of hiding in shame, I just want to lay down in repentance at his feet and throw this pride at the foot of the cross.

    In the same instant I see this seed of sin in my heart, I find he’s weeding it out and leading my heart further into him. The beauty of this leaves me breathless. I love this sacred romance.

    If I ever have any words to say, Lord, let them be of you, for your glory. If just one person finds the way to you through my voice or pen, it’s worth more than any fame or fortune I could gain. Even if no one but you is ever touched by my words, Holy Father, it’s enough! All I have, all I am, all I do…it’s to you, because of you, in you, for you. More of you, Jesus, less of me.

    John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

    I’m thankful for your repentant, humble heart, dear one. Thank you for being willing to lead the way.

  36. 36
    Tricia Hanks says:

    @ God Before Coffee. Thank you for your words of wisdom Beth. I have struggled a lot with what I believe the Lord is calling me to do, writing and speaking in His ministry. I feel so driven to do it and yet I ABSOLUTELY want none of the spotlight on me. It’s not about me. It’s about God. I worry that I’m being disobedient in a way, because I do struggle so much with it. It is a good thing for all who dedicate their lives to the service of the Lord to remember it is not about them. It should NEVER be about the person. When you see religious leaders in the world today collecting and consuming more and more worldly things…they have made the work about them. That is a sin, and it’s a shame they use the name of God to excuse their sinful life. Thank you for being so honest. May God continue to bless you.

  37. 37
    Kennisha T. says:

    Lord knows this was JUST on my mind, Mrs. Moore. JUST on my mind. You spoke what I’ve been thinking of and I love the way you did it. Thanks!

  38. 38
    Kerry Pedigo says:

    I have always sensed a genuineness in you, and never felt you “were in it for the money” or for the fame. You have always come across as simply desiring to share what the Lord has put on your heart. I pray God will daily give you strength to ignore the critics and that He will continue to fill your heart with new messages for us.

  39. 39
    Becky says:

    Beth, years and years ago, while doing your study The Beloved Disciple and reading the book to go with it, I remember a quote going something like this- (in my own words and this is many years later, so I’m sure it’s not an exact quote!)

    If God’s purpose for you leads to obscurity, would you be OK with that?

    Again, I know that is not an exact quote, but I have thought about that principle countless times over the years. Is my relationship with Christ all about me and His purpose for me, or is it all about Him and being used by Him however He chooses, even if it is in obscurity here on this earth.

    What a necessary prayer for me that God would show me immediately if I am turning my focus from Him to me. Thank you, Beth, for keeping Jesus the center and the focus, even after all these years.

  40. 40

    Love this post even though I never saw the whole tweet thing. Wise words of caution, and a great way to pray. Thank you, Beth!

  41. 41
    Ruth W. says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for continuing to live and speak transparency in your very visible ministry. I love that you are so quick to address any misunderstanding or clarify any questioned statements. I’m blessed by your humble approach to all that is thrown at you. It is evident that you strive to make sure that Jesus and everything about HIM is central in everything you share. You have encouraged me as I read this, and I didn’t even know about the original posts, as I am not on Twitter at all. Thank you again.

  42. 42
    Natalie says:

    Such a relevant post. Thanks so much for initiating the discussion AND for being transparent about your own experience with this. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to stand in the spotlight and have the constant struggle to keep the focus on Jesus amidst these distractions. You are serving Him well 🙂 Love you Beth and thankful for YOU!!

  43. 43
    Lisa Hyman says:

    I don’t “tweet” so I didn’t see the original commentary in question, but what a raw, real post from you!! Girlfriend, this NY gal appreciates your honesty and bravery in posting this. I understand the frustration with social media, I understand how so many things that start out with good intentions turn sour…I also understand the desire to stay humble and keep the journey about glorifying God, not about reveling in my accomplishments. Thank you for keeping it SO real. I happened to see this on Facebook and I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen your blog before this…but I sure want to now!! God bless you.

  44. 44
    Tanya T Smith says:

    Dear Beth, Thanks for the reminder to cling to purity. I have jumped onto the branding idea for the purpose of creating a career other than the one I have currently. There is some branding and selling myself but I don’t think it’s that exactly. I think it’s just letting people know I exist and have been through a thing or two and might be able to offer a word or two of encouragement and help. The platform is rough. But it’s just a website promotion. The money will come from essential oil and possibly coaching. So do me a favor and pray I do it God’s way. It’s pure transformation. That’s the brand. Like living proof. God transforms us. He gives us tools. He gives us his word. He also gives us food and essential oil and other items. I mean I’m not trying to sound christian sciency. I just know I was sick and I survived by praying. But I so wish I had known some of what I know in food and other knowledge. It’s Gods gift. That is all. I covet your prayers as I endevour to do a good thing on a new platform. I love Jesus. I would not be alive if it were not for Jesus. On a number of levels…not just physical. He is my healer

  45. 45
    Ruth says:

    Thank you, Miss Beth, for your thoughtful post. Of course the other side of this dynamic is the audience and our complicity with culture of “branding.”

    I was recently reading about an upcoming conference that was described with all the right graphic tonality and all the buzzwords du jour–all the finery of marketing designed to attract us–and I found myself thinking about the many of us unknowns out here who are not one of the Church’s “cool kids.” However, we certainly get that there are cool kids. So, what does looking over the courtyard walls at them say about *us*?

    And here you are disclosing the quiet, pervasive struggle of a cool kid not wanting the moniker! Bless you for your transparency, Miss Beth. You are generous to explain and to tell. In that telling is a challenge not only to a writer/teacher/speaker/blogger/tweeter/poster, but also to us who in any way peer over walls and make assessments and scheme our own schemes of the “whoms”: Whom to tweet, whom to RT, whom to Follow, whom to Like, who connects to whom…?

    It’s a challenge to assess my own mattering map, my own oblique calculus of belonging, and to bring to the altar of this very moment that slightly breathless hope that she will Favor or he will Like. THIS thing you wrote is the genuine availing of motive, of self to Him who calls our hearts to be closer to Him than our lips…or our typing fingers. Moreover, you remind us that not only should we be praying for our “platform” Siblings, we need vigilance in the Spirit to slay our own sycophantic tendencies (you had an interesting acronym some years ago standing for how we seek to gain our own meaning from the reflection of “famous” people), our own methods of bolstering identity in any manner other than the reflected Glory of our Lord’s agape Love.

    Thank you for the exhortation that reached even farther than you might have intended! Bless the Lord for His bountiful truth!

  46. 46
    Carol G says:

    Numbers numbers numbers. Bigger is better. More is magnificent. Most of the time getting caught up in this mindset only accomplishes something that our enemy dearly loves…distraction. Love you Beth Moore

  47. 47
    Tammie O. says:

    This is a conversation that is critical. Women’s ministry is in a very risky place. Not all, certainly, but many “elite” well-known teacher/celebrities have sold out to cultural popularity. When one name-brand ministry was challenged about teaching fallacy, the reply was (paraphrased), “We surveyed our audience and concluded that this is what our Millenials want to hear.” Our church Women’s group traveled far and spent much to hear a new – age, self empowerment message from this world-renowned “brand.” Jesus was not invited. The self-promotion was unending. We came away disturbed and despairing about what is occurring in Christianity and especially in the realm of women’s events. The up side is that we are much more cautious and discerning!

  48. 48
    Tink Leonard says:

    I’m just entering into the world of trying to strengthen and encourage believers through devotionals, poems, messages and other writings. I can’t believe the amount of “Christian” writings and paraphernalia there is out there. All I know is I trust you, Beth Moore. Through your teachings, I have found my voice for Jesus.
    Thank you.

  49. 49
    Jennifer Tricarico says:

    Printed and re-reading and praying.

    Is my heart content with the “well done” of THE ONE AND ONLY?

    Thank you, Beth, for writing.

  50. 50
    Susan K. says:

    Beth, your honesty and transparency are one of the many reasons I respect and love you. I’ve no doubt in my mind that your love for Jesus is your one and only motivation.

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