AVOIDING THE SELF PROMOTION SPIRIT –
Avoiding the Self Promotion Spirit! – David Walters firstname.lastname@example.org
Many years ago when the American troops came to England during WW2 English people resented them or at least their attitude, because they felt that they “bragged” all the time. Everything that they did and had was bigger and better then what the folks in England had and accomplished. It was probably true to some extent, but the British objected to having to listen to it. It wasn’t their fault ( the US servicemen) really because that’s what they were used to, but the Brits weren’t.
Self promoting or bragging still goes on today. I guess it will always be with us, but what about the church or the Christian community?
Most of us know of churches that self promote and at the same time run down other churches that are not part of their streams or doctrinal traditions. Also many of these self promoting churches have links with other churches or ministries with the same mind, to strengthen and increase their agendas. This is usually how denominations are formed. I’ve noticed on face book that sometimes when pastor and leader report on the wonderful things that God is doing, the emphasis is on how great the church is because God is obviously doing something “special” with them. For more info on the Spirit of Elitism- get a copy of Kathie’s book, “Elitism and the spirit of control.” You can download from her website. When the spirit of elitism comes in the seeds of death are already in it- as God resists pride and His grace lifts. How long can you survive without His grace? We are totally dependent upon it.
I know I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know about already and most of us have learned to live with it.
But I want to explain about self promoting, which happens more on an undercover level. There are many people who have a small ministry that feel they have a great ministry, but have not achieved the goals that they believe they are worthy of.
They will tell you things like, “I am so deep into the things of God that most people misunderstand me and don’t appreciate the wonderful revelations that God has giving me.” “I’m on a different level than most people so that’s why I’m not nationally known.” “Only people that are really hungry and have deep insights will know and understand what I’m talking about.”
Of course there is an element of truth in what they say. Jesus did warn us to beware when all men speak of us favorably. There are many popular ministries that play to the crowds. They give very little offense to people. Paul talked about the offense of the cross of Christ. In much our society today it’s still acceptable to talk about God or pray to God, but to talk about Jesus or pray to Jesus is offensive to many.
The ones that I’m concerned about are those who think they are far deeper and more dedicated than anyone else and try to gather around them a few mutual admirers. They usually in a subtle way imply how they have paid a price for where they are, by fasting and seeking God for many hours and days, until the Holy Spirit revealed to them and only to them, these wonderful deep truths. They get involved with a spirit of elitism
Some of them have joined or have been part of national ministries and have assisted them, but their main reason was to use that ministry to promote their own agenda. They may have helped the ministry and assisted in improving its vision and goals, but at the back of their minds they were planning on how they can increase and benefit their own ministry. They looked for opportunities on how they can forge ahead with their own agenda, often when they are communicating with the ministries’ supporters. It is so easy to justify their position, especially when they feel their revelation ministry is on the cutting edge of the Holy Spirit’s agenda. “The End Justifies the Means” But the end never justifies the means. That was the philosophy of the Jesuits and also of the radical Muslims, who believed that lying or hoodwinking the infidels to achieve their goals had the approval and blessing of God or Allah.
So to hide their secret agenda to take advantage of using a successful ministry for their own ends is like operating a “spirit of diversion.” A person calls for help and wants some materials and they subtly steer that person over to their products and their own ministry. They feel that there is nothing wrong in doing this, as they believe that the Lord has given them the true solution to this person’s problems.
Some years ago, we were very busy with lots of bookings and there were too many churches calling for us to go to. So we asked a young man to join our ministry to help us. He had been a youth pastor and a large church in Florida for several years. We had preached there several times, so he was familiar with our ministry He now wanted to branch out. His wife was very ambitious for her husband, and did everything she could to promote him.
He was working in our office during the week for a salary and from time to time he traveled with me, even joining me on over sees trips. I was also sending him out to smaller churches to minister and share the vision that God had given us for the children. He usually went over a weekend and I paid him extra for doing so. He was also taking my materials with him to make them available for the church he was with. I also made it plain that all offerings taken during the weekend were to be made to our ministry and not to any individual. He was taking opportunity to learn to minister outside of the youth pastor position
It wasn’t long before I discovered that checks he had were being made to him and he hardly sold any of my books. When I asked him about my materials he said he was too busy ministering to deal with my books. I asked him about checks being made payable to him and he said, “The elders felt the Lord wanted them to bless me.”
Then I found out that he was asking the churches he visited to give him contacts for other churches that weren’t connected with our ministry, so he could go and minister to them. When he was working in the office and taking calls, if a church called for a booking for me to come and minister, he would decide that the church wasn’t large enough, so he told them they should have him come instead. At the time I knew nothing about what he was doing. When I finally approached him about that, he said that he felt his ministry was more appropriate for that church.
This young man’s wife was not content for only him to work for us, as she felt she also had an important ministry that needed to be promoted. She wanted to be added to our staff, but we were not financially able to do that as we had three others already working for us, as well as her husband. So we said that she could sell her products at our large conferences, but they didn’t satisfy her.
During that time she traveled with Kathie to a church where Kathie was ministering. Kathie went to have lunch with the pastor and his wife and she invited this other lady to go with them. During lunch she took over the whole conversation by talking about her and her husband’s ministry. Eventually, because she was not given a platform for her ministry, she fussed at her husband to leave when he was in the middle of a doing an important project for me and they both left us.
Over the years Kathie has had several ambitious women attempt to get close to her because they felt she was the one to promote their ministry, even asking her to introduce them to any well known people she knew who had large ministries, so that they could use them to better their own ministry. They wanted to travel with her and
be used in her meetings in the hope that they could show people their spiritual talents, be it in worship, music, teaching, or healing. They also wanted her to sell their music and teaching CD’s. She has had occasions when someone has even gotten into her hotel room and has had to call the pastor to come and get them out.
I’ve had the opportunity over the years to rub shoulders with and even minister in the same meetings with national and internationally famous speakers. Although I have been tempted to see if they can give me a leg up, or promote my ministry to a higher and more successful level, I have never felt comfortable with asking them. Even with personal friends that we know and are well known and successful in the publishing industry, I have never felt comfortable with using our friendship in order to promote our ministry.
Years ago, the Lord gave me revelation on the following scriptures, “Out of the mouth of two or three witness let every word be established.” This is mentioned seven times in the Bible; twice in the Old Testament and five times in the New Testament.
When Jesus was ministering, the religious leaders of His day they came and accused Him of the following, “You bear witness (or testify) of yourself and your witness (testimony)is not true.” (John 8:13-18) see also (John 5:31)
In other words they accused Him of blowing his own trumpet, but He had more than two other witnesses, He had four. 1. John the Baptist. 2. His heavenly Father. 3. The Scriptures. 4. His Miracles.
During my traveling years people would often tell me to call their pastor and tell him that I wanted to come to his church and preach as he needed my ministry. I would refuse and say, “If you think I have a great ministry and you know others that feel the same, then you call him and have your friends call him.”
I used to be salesman and I didn’t feel that I wanted to behave that way now that I was in the ministry. That was before the Lord gave me the revelation that I have listed above.
Self promotion is always wrong, and is worse if you use other people, or their ministry to unknowingly promote you and your ministry. God is the one who opens and shuts doors. Perhaps God has given those people who struggle with recognition, “the ministry of helps.” Don’t get mad or downgrade others if God’s hasn’t used you to become famous, or your ministry to become famous. If you feel you have a passion to promote the “Truth” of the revelation that the Holy Spirit has shown you, then do it in a godly way; and do not take advantage of others.
Another danger which we all suffer with is that we naturally have a greater interest in ourselves than we do in others. We are more interested in what we are feeling or doing than the feelings of others and what they are doing. Of course we as parents, often make great sacrifices for our children and grandchildren, but sooner or later we like them to know about it.
How often when someone is telling us about their lives and experiences, when they go on past a few minutes, (like reading a book,) we quickly lose interest and our concentration, so we are no longer listening to them. We are now dwelling on our own stories and experiences which we usually feel are more relevant and important. So we are just waiting for a gap, in order to interrupt them, so we can add our two cents worth to the conversation. Depending on our personalities we can easily become irritated with them and turn them off. Of course if we have a laid back lazy country personality and nothing much to contribute, we will smile and give the idea we are listening, but haven’t really heard a word that they have said.
If people tell you of something that God has done for them or shown them, don’t be tempted to cut them off and top their story with one of yours. Try to refrain from placing yourself in a competition with the person, or their ministry to convince them that you are more spiritual and mature than they are. You can give the impression that you’re very humble and spiritual, and it was only because of your obedience and dedication, that God favored you with His special revelation. If and when someone excitedly tells you how God gave them a specific revelation, try to refrain from commenting, “Oh! The Holy Spirit showed me that revelation, years ago.”
We talk about the rat race in the world, so that should never be the case in the church. When we have known of ministries that are really good we have in most cases promoted them. We love sharing with people we know, about anointed ministers who we feel would benefit them. We are not threatened by others that are flowing the anointing and setting the captives free.
I was preaching at a church and finished on Sunday evening with a Miracle Meeting where the Holy Spirit was using the children to heal the sick. The senior pastor was sitting up in the balcony observing. The Lord showed me that the pastor was having a problem with the meeting as the children were doing things that he had never done himself and he was threatened.
The next morning as the children’s pastor was driving me to the airport to catch my return flight home, shared with him what I had felt the Lord had shown me. And said that the senior pastor may have a problem with God using the children, as it rocked his comfort zone boat
Six weeks later the children’s pastor called me and shared the following, “After you left the children were so on fire that they began to minister to their school friends. Very soon many of their friends were saved and came to the children’s church. It soon grew to about four times larger than before and great things were happening. Then the senior pastor and the youth pastor came to me and said, ‘This has to stop! You are starting a church within a church, so you need to back off and keep it how it was before. We don’t agree with all the hype and excitement in the children’s church, it needs to go back to normal.’ So what would you suggest I do?”
A few weeks later he left and I was able to connect him with another church that was more open for the Holy Spirit to have control and didn’t feel threatened.
So remember we are told to prefer one another and not to be upset when someone is more anointed than us, or being used more than us. We should not see it as a threat, but a bonus, as the more anointing we see on others, it should provoke us to become more anointed ourselves. Neither should we despise those that we feel are not understanding and receiving what we feel we have to offer. Let the Holy Spirit’s fruit of patience and longsuffering operate in our life. It’s not about “my ministry” or “my revelation,” but about advancing His kingdom!
The Bible says, “We have the mind of Christ.” (I.Cor.2:16) So it’s not just you, or me, but “We.” We are living stones being built into a temple for God to full with His presence