Is there a difference between marketing and selfish ambition?
Most Christians struggle with the idea of marketing their work. Is there a difference between self-glorification and marketing? Am I violating the Bible’s command not to live by selfish ambition?
Like all people, I want to be affirmed in what I have written. To have someone speak highly of the book tells me that the effort was not in vain. Isn’t seeking affirmation and success a form of selfish ambition? In some ways, yes. But not in a way that the Bible condemns.
The Bible uses a few words for ‘selfish ambition’. In Galatians 5:20, selfish ambition comes from the word, ‘eritheia’, which means to put oneself forward, to court a distinction between yourself and others, or to have a fractious spirit. In other words, It’s jockeying for position so you can be exalted over other people. In Philippians 2:3, we are told to do nothing out of selfish ambition (or vainglory). This is the Greek word, ‘kenodoxia’, which means: empty pride, or groundless self-esteem.
The Bible is not condemning us for pursuing our passions (providing they are healthy passions). The Bible condemns boasting, putting ourselves over others, and stepping over people to put ourselves into a better position.
Each person has gifts and desires that are healthy and good within God’s design. Our first call is to delight ourselves in the Lord. From a healthy relationship with God, healthy desires flow. Then we have the assurance that God blesses those desires knowing they are from Him. When the gift displaces our relationship with God, it loses true meaning – for all good comes from him. But when we are pursuing our passion through faith, we have true confidence knowing it has been given to us by God, and has value within his design.
Keep in mind that the Bible is filled with promises for us as individuals. Read the letters to the churches in Revelation 1-3. One of those promises is, “To him who overcomes, I will give power over the nations.” Seven times in these chapters we are given promises as a motivation to overcome. Is it selfish to keep God’s word and strive to overcome and obtain these promises? No. These are given to us for the purpose of striving for something valuable and eternal. The Bible tells us to run in such a way that we may obtain the prize. Selfishness, on the other hand, is not striving to obtain, but living life as though our desires are all that matter – or that we are more important than others.Writing is the same way. If you believe God has gifted you to write, then write. Write to obtain the goal you believe is important in light of your calling, without losing an eternal perspective. Strive to keep a godly perspective, and write. Don’t feel guilty if you enjoy writing or find success in your efforts. Those who delight first in the Lord will maintain a healthy perspective. Success and the fruit of our labors are gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:12-14).