Thursday, June 24, 2010


I've typed the letters off the keyboard . . . again. Too rushed to head to the electronics store for a replacement, I draw new letters on with White-out. Crazy, I know. My son was home for a few days and saw the mess I've made of it. He asked me why I let my seventeen-month-old grandson draw on my keyboard. Things are bad over here right now. . .

I'll turn this manuscript in in a few days, and then the promo will begin, the most uncomfortable part of being a writer. We begin with a noble idea, to wrote something that will make a difference in someone's life, and we end up feeling like used-car salesmen. (No offense intended.)

Now, to some extent, self-promotion is a necessary part of business. It's called "increasing your marquee value," and it happens in all aspects of the business world--spokespersons and advocates take the podium to bring awareness to the cause they are promoting, and more often than not, they become the focus. Take Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and George Foreman for example. Who'd a thunk that with a bowl of cookie dough or a pound of ground beef an entire empire could be born?

As an author, as in any other business, I have to do a certain amount of "kingdom building" to establish my name, build a fan base and promote my work. Fortunately or not, I'm terrible at it, but self-promotion in any form takes the person to a slippery, awkward slope.

Speaking at the 2008 BYU Women's Conference, Sheri Dew warned us about people who seek to "build their own kingdom". I've thought a lot about that phrase since hearing her deliver it. At what point do people's efforts turn from the task at hand and begin redirecting the light back to them? Do we notice when the "doing" becomes an opportunity for someone to "build" their own kingdom?

I was listening to the news and a feeling of foreboding washed over me. Thirty minutes later, nestled in the company of members of our congregation, all I felt was peace. The news and financial forecasts were the same. What had changed? One set of people was bent on building ratings while the other was building the kingdom of God, one smile and handshake at a time.

We are all guilty of building our own kingdoms at times, but perhaps the antidote is to test our motivation from time to time. When we raise our hand to comment in class, when we rise to the podium to bear a testimony, when we visit the sick, comfort the sorrowing, offer our hand, the building of whose kingdom is at our heart? I think it's a good standard to use for self-evaluation from time to time. I've done it, and sometimes it stings.

Imagine if we applied such a standard to our politicians, business leaders and social spokespersons, measuring their words against their actions. And imagine if we only supported people whose actions supported the building of His kingdom, whose decisions furthered the causes that not only pleased people but lifted them. Now that's the kingdom I'd like to build.

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