2018-08-03 / Chaplain's News

The value of self-promotion

Chaplain (1st Lt.) Jeffrey Brannen
369th Signal Battalion

Proverbs 27:2 “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” (ESV)

We want to be known for our hard work, our diligence, and our accomplishments. Sometimes, despite our best efforts to do an exemplary job, we find that it is other people who get noticed, appreciated, and promoted. It can be very frustrating to not be recognized. What should we do if our peers and superiors miss our behind-the-scene work?

The first way is one of self-promotion. When we self-promote, we become our own best publicist, constantly putting ourselves forward to gain the recognition we believe we deserve. Whenever there is a discussion, the self-promoter will insert their qualifications into the conversation, always vying for center stage.

The comedian Brian Regan describes this sort of individual as a “Me Monster.” He wonders what a person gains from always emphasizing their own sacrifices or accomplishments in order to denigrate the people around them.

Essentially, self-promotion provides the illusion of recognition. It is possible to further your career through this method, but is it the way of wisdom? Is it the best way to succeed? Solomon would argue that it isn’t.

The way the wise saying suggests turns us from people pleasing to genuine service. If we truly have the Army value of selfless service, then we will seek the good of others above our own. Self-promotion is the exact opposite of selfless service because it elevates ourselves at the expense of those around us. On the other hand, if we allow others to praise us, to speak well of our accomplishments, then we will find that we can truly serve the needs of our Soldiers and our units.

Perhaps this is easier said than done. If we want to make the military our career, then we must be recognized. And, if that recognition isn’t forthcoming, we can feel the pressure to place ourselves in the center of the spotlight, always seeking the attention we believe we deserve.

The downside to this is that the more your promote yourself, the less people will believe the propaganda. You will find that people’s respect for you and your work diminishing. You will become known as someone who will advance their career by elevating yourself at the expense of others.

The better way, the way of wisdom, is to serve faithfully and well, choosing to do the best you can and put the needs of others above your own. In doing so, you avoid the trap of self-promotion.

The flip side of this proverb is that we need to actively seek ways to praise the effort and successes of the people around us; to carefully look and find the positive benefit that they bring to the team.

We need to avoid empty praise, but when we see the hard work other people do, to speak well of them both to their face as well as behind their back.

In short, don’t be your own publicist, but actively publicize others. In doing so, you’ll build your team, encourage your fellow Soldiers, and live the Army value of selfless service.

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