So much of the theatre world is about accomplishment. You prove your potential to casting directors by auditioning, and giving them a resume—the bigger the roles, and the longer the list, the better. In addition to personal accomplishment, you can get a big reputation boost by dropping a few key names—famous theatres you’ve worked at and big-name producers and directors. The world of theatre is heavy on self-promotion, and it isn’t for the shy or timid; you have to be willing to talk about yourself and the things you’ve done until you’re sick of your own voice. And then you are sick of it—unless you’re a class-ten narcissist.
If Paul had been an actor, the prestige and training on his resume would have been enough to get him cast in just about any role he wanted. He was “kinda a big deal.” He had so much clout, that when he got upset at the newly forming segment of Jews that followed Jesus Christ (soon to be called Christians), he’d order them killed, and they’d be killed. I don’t think even Bernadette Peters, Stephen Sondheim or Andrew Lloyd Webber has that kind of power.
Let’s be honest, we’ve come to a point in our culture that self-promotion is considered the acceptable norm—even expected in some circles. And if you refuse to do it? Well, that can be as bad as having someone spread vicious rumors about you. And what does Paul do in chapter 3 of Ephesians? He says he’s the least of all of the saints (his word for followers of Christ)—talk about a career killer. What’s more surprising is that he is being honest without being falsely self-deprecating. This is really how he sees himself, and in a sense, he may be right.
Hang around long enough, and you’re likely to hear someone in a Christian circle refer to God’s upside-down kingdom, or the upside-down economy. What that phrase really gets at is that from our perspective, God’s way seems to operate in the opposite direction we would expect or even want. So different, that up looks like down. Want to be a leader? Serve others. Want to be important? Make sure none of it is about you? Trying to be first? You’ll end up last. This is a hard pill to swallow in our culture, because in a lot of places out there, you pretty much have to beat everyone down around you in order to get anywhere.
Have you ever struggled with the issues of self-promotion? Have you been in situations that it has helped you or hurt you?