When religious leaders ask Jesus who he claims to be, he says, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing” (v. 54). Those of us who struggle with self-promotion may prefer the anonymity of the background to the spotlight. Maybe we were taught that touting our accomplishments is showy, while being unpretentious and not making waves is better.
Damon Runyon irreverently writes, “He who tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted.” If we aren’t willing to speak up on our own behalf, why should we expect others to do so for us? The desire to keep our horns silent can be taken to extremes. In a 2018 study, over half of surveyed intensive care patients hesitated to express their health concerns because they feared being seen as a troublemaker by their caregiver.
What is positive self-promotion? Entrepreneur author Seth Godin observes that we don’t encounter the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and think, “Wow, what a self-promoter.” Why? Because people such as Yo-Yo Ma promote ideas, methods, or products that benefit others, rather than boosting themselves at the expense of others. It’s more about how you make others feel, less about how you yourself feel.
Paul echoes Jesus in his letter to the Corinthian church. He says that gifts, powers, understanding, generosity, and even faith are all noise and nothingness if not undergirded by love (1 Cor 13:1-4).
This week, we saw Moses being offered an opportunity for glory by following God and delivering the Israelites from slavery. Because glorifying himself was not his aim, his story shines with the possibility of what God does through those who care how others feel.
When someone asks about your accomplishments, which ones show that benefitting others was a higher priority for you than self-promotion?
Lord, you did not make me to be a Moses, but to be myself. Open my eyes to see the opportunities you have for me and help me glorify you through them. Amen.