Monday, December 10, 2012

On Self-Promotion and Building Platforms, or Why You Should Buy My Book But Not Because I Said So

Photo Credit: mari ce (Creative Commons)

So, I wrote a book.

I finally got to hold it this weekend. It was cathartic to rip the tape off the box, empty the packing paper and see a stack of books with my name on the cover. This is literally a dream come true, a check on the bucket list that happened far sooner than I ever expected.

But I'll admit, there's an aspect of writing a book nowadays that has been rather strange and difficult for me: self-promotion.

Our culture is all about building platforms. With the onset of the Internet, there are plenty of avenues for self-publication, self-promotion, and self-propagandizing. There are books and websites and leadership gurus who will teach you how to create your platform, build your platform, decorate your platform, and tell everyone via Twitter about your platform. Bloggers, Twitterers, YouTubers, Instagrammers--they are all vying for attention. "Notice me" is the mantra of our culture. The folks creating the platform-building books and websites are, ironically, creating larger platforms from of our culture's deep-rooted desire to be noticed, to be unique, to stand out among the rest and become famous.

You know what was built on platforms in the Bible?


Some translations call them "high places," and they're often spoken about in the context of a command from God to tear them down.

Building platforms can be a form of idolatry.

So I'm in a predicament, because apparently building platforms and self-promotion is what a first-time author has to do in our culture. If I want my book to sell, then I've got to do the hard work of a marketer. And I don't want to do it. But if I'm honest, I do want Leading Up to get into the hands of as many church leaders as possible, not because I think I'm awesome and you should buy my book, but because I believe in the message of the book--that God has called and gifted church leaders to radically transform their communities for the sake of the Gospel. I'm hoping Leading Up can be a part of that transformation process.

This comes back to humble confidence versus insecure pride. If I am trying to self-promote and build a platform for myself, I risk falling into self-worship and trying to bring you down with me. But this is more than just Joel. I'm trying to be faithful to what Jesus has called/led/guided/gifted/forced me to do, which is write stuff that hopefully encourages, equips, inspires, and makes someone--maybe you--draw just a little bit closer to Jesus. I have confidence in this mission and calling, because this whole book-writing endeavor has been a gift from the very start.

I'm hopefully just the microphone for the message Jesus wants to communicate. If I want to promote anyone, it's Him.

What kind of platform did Jesus build? He didn't write anything down. When he did something fantastic and miraculous, he told the people to not say anything. He hung out in lonely places and the margins of society. He didn't travel very far from his own hometown, and never outside of his tiny nation. He was homeless and poor, but generous in his love. He found himself on a literal platform during an unjust trial where he was condemned and lifted up on a cross for all to see. The platform of the cross radically changed the course of human history, offering redemption and new life.

So, I'd love for you to get a copy of Leading Up, but not because I said so. You can buy Leading Up at The Youth CartelSimply Youth Ministry, or Get a copy and give it away to a church leader who might be encouraged by its message. 

1 comment:

  1. I think you possibly answered your own problem in the post. It wasn't by shouting about it (that was John the Baptist's job) His very actions proved that what he said was true. So, if you are living what your book says, you are a walking advert anyway :-) And what are the books in the Bible anyway? A set of testimonies. Any information you give out about it you can see as "corresponding". There you go. :-) :-) Oh, congratulations by the way.