The Business of You

me-myself-and-i-021Social media is full of the white noise of people promoting themselves. Writers promoting books, ministry leaders promoting tools for church growth, singers promoting new releases, churches promoting their church, and on and on it goes. Tweets for how to lead your church, how to get more followers, how to make money off your blog. The list is endless. Social media has become a clogged highway of everyone promoting themselves and their newest content that will help you _____________ (fill in the blank). The problem is, I have been pulled into this white noise that seems to get lost on the people who are seeing constant media feeds in Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and the other social media sites.

What is a Christian to do when it comes to self-promotion in a me-driven world? As writers and artists, we produce content we believe others would benefit from consuming and implementing into their lives, ministries, or business organizations. Is it wrong or sinful for us as Christians to promote ourselves as writers, artists, pastors, and ministry leaders? The fine line we have to walk keeps some people from promoting themselves and their work. On the flip side, other believers promote themeselves without shame and almost to the point of being obnoxious.

1. It’s Not About You

Rick Warren popularized the statement “It’s not about you” in his best selling book The Purpose Drive Life. Even though we verbalize this thought and half-heartedly believe it, do we live it out when it comes to self-promotion? The way you live this out without putting yourself front and center is to focus on other people. When you tweet, FB, or use other social media, always make it about other people, not yourself. Put the focus on God, your spouse and family, other leaders, and people who have made an impact in your life.

2. Self-Promotion Is Not A Sin, But Can Become Sinful

Self-promotion in and of itself is not a sin, but when all the focus all the time is about you, it becomes sinful. While everyone wants to think they are agents of humility, that rarely is the case. Humility and pride are opposing forces in our lives. We believe that we are not prideful and have humble motives. But motive plays a part in this equation. Why are you promoting yourself? Are you looking to make a living? Wanting to become well- known?

God created the creativity that flows from your writing, your voice, and your speaking, and it can be used to provide financially for you and your family. Never should we promote the creative gift we have as ours and claim it as our own. God gave us the gifts we have to be shared with others, so they can enjoy and benefit from the content that flows from what we create.

Strive to be humble, because God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

3. Your Identity Is Not In Success

Our culture values success in everything that we attempt to accomplish and there is nothing wrong with being successful. The problem comes when we worship success and when our identity is grounded in whether or not we achieve that success. Our identity, as followers of Jesus, is in Jesus. We should teach our children and others to be successful, but only in order to bring glory to Jesus. Athletes are often criticized for glorifying God when they are successful. What the critics do not understand is that those athletes know their success is not for themselves but for someone else.

If you look at my website, you see that I promote my writing and other endeavors I undertake. I struggle with self-promotion. It probably has to do with one’s personality and experiences in life, but I find it distasteful sometimes that I toot my own horn. What about you?

Writing Effective Blog Posts

freeelance-bloggingI consider myself a Missionary Writer.

I began writing in 2004 with a blog titled, “The Southern Scribe.” Even though I was an early adopter in the Christian blogging world, as time went on, I doubted that blogging was here to stay. Due to my time constraints, I gave up blogging. On occasion I would blog about something that interested me or blog about an issue that excited me or annoyed me. I can stand before you today and say I was wrong, in a big way. Blogs in many circles are just as pertinent as print and network and cable news outlets when it comes to breaking news or editorials.

Anyone can get an account on Blogger or setup a WordPress blog, but how do we write posts that are effective in delivering a message?

1. MAKE YOUR WRITING NEED BASED.
When preparing to write, always start with the key need. Then move to the key thought or concept that has to do with that need. Be sure to research and then exegete your sources and prepare notes on your findings. Examine supplemental writings and books where necessary. A Missionary Writer does not write to be cool or famous; we write to lead people to changed lives. As I research, study, and prepare, I ask God for wisdom and direction.

2. EMPHASIZE SHOWING VERSUS TELLING.
We should use current events and stories to illustrate the point we are trying to make. Remember, showing versus telling can get marred if we are not careful, as we want to tell people “how to” instead of showing them. The only way people really learn and are motivated to change is being shown how to go from point A to point B. People can only get to the next level by having someone who has accomplished what they seek to accomplish show them how.

Make sure you address the WHY behind the WHAT – why do people need to know this? How does it matter to their lives?

3. PROVIDE CLEAR ACTION STEPS.
Effective writing lead to specific applications. In preparation of my writing, I always ask, “What do I want people to DO as a result of reading this?” In many cases, (calling for people to give their shoes off their feet), the action step may be bold. But in other cases, it could be simple (begin reading the Bible this week or go on a date with your spouse).

Just like meetings that do not include action steps tend to waste people’s time, so does writing that does not call people to action. It’s like running back a kickoff and stopping at the 10-yard line.

4. WRITE WITH PASSION AND AUTHENTICITY.
Passionate and authentic writing begins from understanding one’s personality and style. Writers that attempt to write like someone else will never connect as well.

In the 21st century, humor is a common language that conveys authenticity. People appreciate writers who do not look down on them, but engage them. Humor lowers people’s defenses. Funny stories and statements can pepper your writing with spice and make it memorable.

5. BE SIMPLE.
We often write about difficult subjects in an effort to answer people’s questions, but do we use too many words without saying anything? Simple answers are often shorter answers. The attention span of our society is getting collectively shorter. This means that I must develop the skill to match the will.

Great writing should have one memorable point or statement that is repeated several times throughout the piece. There should be one driving idea, a “twitterable” big idea.

WordServe News: September 2013

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

RawEdgesSandra D. Bricker releases Raw Edges, a book in the “Quilts of Love” series with Abingdon Press.

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AnniesChristmasWishBarbara Cameron releases Annie’s Christmas Wish, a book in the “Quilts of Lancaster County” series, with Abingdon Press.

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4213 cvr1 CS6.inddJordyn Redwood releases Peril, the final book in her “Bloodline Trilogy” with Kregel Publications.

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TheBargainStephanie Reed releases, The Bargain, the first book in the “Plain City Peace” series with Kregel Publications.

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ThrashingAboutMandy Steward releases her debut book, Thrashing About With God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything, with David C. Cook.

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Christmasinmyheart22Joe Wheeler releases Christmas in my Heart #22, another heartwarming collection of Christmas stories, from Pacific Press.

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Joshua'sWayRobert Wise releases Joshua’s Way: Spiritual Warfare Lessons for Today’s Battles with Leafwood Publishers.

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New WordServe Clients

Jeff Calloway signed with Alice Crider. He’s writing about clearing spiritual clutter so you can clearly see God’s vision for your life.

Kate Hurley, a singer-songwriter who self-published a spunky memoir titled Getting Naked Later, signed with Alice Crider.

Mike Fechner, a Dallas-based missionary to the inner-city, will write his story with Marcus Brotherton.

New Contracts

Marcus Brotherton has signed with Moody Press for his first novel! Rev Rowdy is the post WWII story of a soldier coming home from the war who finds trouble, but then is convinced by the local sheriff to become the town preacher. Sort of a “Band of Brothers” meets “Mitford” for men.

Joe Wheeler signed a three-book deal with Pacific Press to compile and anthologize miracle and angel stories.

What can we help you celebrate?