Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The tension between ministry and marketing can be enough to drive a writer crazy. After all, we have a message to share, and we want to lead others to Christ. But, in that process, there comes a point where we have to tell others about ourselves, the book, and ask them to purchase our work. Which one do you prefer? Marketing or message? This kind of tension is a good thing, if it leads us to re-evaluation and a renewed commitment to finding balance in our ministry. We need to have a commitment to both, but finding the sweet spot is key.

If the Shoe Fits

Sometimes marketing and ministry work together and feels comfortable, like slipping into our favorite shoes. We have a conversation with someone, and in the most natural way, it shifts to our ministry, and we have the opportunity to celebrate what God is allowing us to do. They leave the encounter with an excitement, a recognition of God's presence, and a desire to read what our heart has spilled out on the page.

But, other times, it's like stuffing our toes into that pair of high heels that look great, but make us walk with a limp. You know, the times when our conversation shifts to a more obnoxious, "look at me" routine of pitiful "buy my book" pleas. The moments where the audience is silently begging to just get to the end of the sales pitch, so we'll get over ourselves, while at the same time we're hurrying to kick off the source of our own throbbing pain. The moments when we know the listener would rather be cleaning a closet than listening to our self-promotion.

Waves of Adoration and Defeat

I have to admit, I realize God used a season in my past to prepare me for the writing life. See, I was a crafter. Did craft shows. Filled a U-Haul with my wares, set up my booth, and endured the continual sea of people, extending their waves of rejection and affirmation as they passed by my tables. At the time, I had no idea God would call me to ministry, or to speaking and writing. All I knew was that invariably, some would reject the work of my hands, while others would praise it. What a fruitful training ground.

Now, as one who has traded in the U-Haul for the printing press and conference stage, I experience the same waves of adoration and defeat. Maybe people like what I have to say. Maybe I step on their spiritual toes. Either way, I press on, focusing on whether what I did brought glory to God. And, maybe, just maybe, I get to lead them to the Savior who has captivated my soul with His love. Those are the moments I live for; those are the times I feel Him smile down on me, and wrap me in His affirming love.

Finding the Sweet Spot

So, where's the balance? How do we achieve that perfect fit between pinchy, pushy marketing and the comfort of a pure heart? How do we learn to ride the waves, whichever way they lead, unmoved by anything other than the Father's whisper?

I wish I knew the perfect answer. I struggle with this more than I'd like to admit. This is a common issue with Christ-followers in ministry, and one that is an unending heart check for us all. Who's getting the glory? Us? God? For me, my downfall is that I'd rather people know Jesus than know my name, or what I've done. So, marketing my "brand" suffers. Which, by the way, in the end won't do much for your success in publishing.

And, on the flip side, if God has called us, shouldn't we work hard, and do everything we can in order to see what He has ordained succeeds? Yes, I believe we are called by God, and called to work hard. We should produce excellent work. Be a worker of excellence. Succeed.

And, in this, is the tension. Somewhere between His glory and our excellence we find the sweet spot. The place where His Spirit leads readers to our books, and people to our conferences, all while He is able to have His way with each one. The place where we find our perfect fit, then get out of the way.

Jennifer Devlin