Clawing Our Way to the Top: Why We Must Stop Using Other People For Our Personal Gain

Recently a woman, who shares mutual friends with me, wrote a nice message introducing herself. After the normal pleasantries, she went straight to the point, “I sell ___________ products and would love to meet up to explore which one would suit your needs.” My reply was genuine, yet honest, “I think it’s a great item, but I am not interested in becoming a customer right now. I do love meeting new friends, so if you’d like to get acquainted outside of a business endeavor, I’d love to get together.” I am still waiting on that coffee date to be scheduled…

Whether selling products, writing a book, or running a ministry, we all have dreams of expansion. When we believe in something, our hearts grow invested, and it’s natural to want the world to buy in. Our products and ideas get shared with people in our neighborhoods, at our kid’s sporting events, maybe even in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Most predominately it gets marketed online.

Starting to blog a couple years ago, I became more ingrained in the online culture, thus noticing a fascinating trend. From beauty specialists to florists, photographers to wedding planners, small business owners to entrepreneurs, and writers to speakers of various topics, the trend to push other people around in the process of growing a platform is pervasive.

Follow someone online to unfollow them later

Like people’s posts to gain exposure

Comment only when it benefits the brand

Cheer someone on to gain something in return

And so on…

What happens when, as self-proclaimed Christian leaders, we buy into this mentality, when we see a goal and employ whatever strategy it takes to get to the top? What impact does it have on those around us, and do our ministries, our hearts, become affected by these practices? When we see other people, not for how we can serve them, but how they can serve us, the consequences devastate the over-arching commandment we have as believers in Jesus Christ.

We are commanded to…

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-45)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

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I might have 383 followers on Instagram for the rest of my blogging career.  I might only get a few comments, a couple dozen likes, and maybe one or two shares per post. Quite possibly that could keep me from ever receiving a book deal, speaking at high-profile events, or making a public name for myself. But if that is the sphere of influence God has assigned me, then THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH.

This doesn’t mean we can’t advertise our products or posts. It doesn’t imply that we should stop working hard to make connections or forgo joining communities with other like-minded people. It certainly shouldn’t stop us from praying for God to open doors, asking Him to expand our message or help us reach our goals. And, for heaven’s sake, we don’t have to follow every person online who first follows us.

It all comes down to the motivations and intentions of our heart.

What it means is that WHEN we set the goals, make the introductions, put our best-executed foot forward, we release our grip on the outcome and trust God to bring who needs to hear it most. It’s not about the money. It’s not about the fame. It’s not about the numbers.

It’s about Christ’s message for His world.

So I have decided to let God grow my sphere of influence instead of playing the game. I will fight the temptation to show interest in other people for the purpose of furthering my agenda. I will not speak of Christ’s love and then turn around and use people for my gain. If you feel like I have already done this to you, please message me so I can ask for your forgiveness.

I will let God determine my influence as He sees fit and for His purpose alone. And I will choose to elevate Christ over my goals. His will over mine. His plans over my platform.

Our calling as Christians to love others above ourselves is worth the trade.

The temptations and insecurities are real, so we need to band together in this surrender. Holding each other accountable, we can spur one another on to say “yes” to God’s assignments, regardless of the worldly outcome. After all, if one person’s life is encouraged or changed by our words, our ministries, or our service, than it is worth it all.

Who’s with me?

9 thoughts on “Clawing Our Way to the Top: Why We Must Stop Using Other People For Our Personal Gain

  1. I love this! God has called me to be a poet. I sometimes fight against it because being a poet isn’t where the fame and money are. How can I really change the world for Christ by writing poetry? I want to publish a book. But then I’m reminded of the subtle but important influence my poetry has had on individuals. Like the anonymous commented on my blog who said she couldn’t forgive her dad until she read my poem about learning to forgive. And really, that one victory for God is enough. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thanks, Linda, for sharing. I want to encourage you that your poetry is, and will continue to, bring people back to Christ, as God will use it to reach people in a way that no book can. Writing poetry is an art, like music, that cuts to the core of our hearts, reaching places mere words cannot. I am thankful God created you to express yourself in this way, and what a blessing it is to hear stories of how God is using it to change people’s lives.

  2. Oh my goodness. This is so true. I have so many friend requests on facebook and instagram from people I don’t know when I dig in to see why I might know them it is usually because they are selling something and within moments of accepting their request I get asked to buy a product. I don’t enjoy that and hope nobody feels like I only like them because the MAY use me to buy a house.

    1. It happens so often. I think you do an incredible job of letting people know you are a realtor, without making them feel pressured. I think that is why so many people come to you for help!

  3. I’m with ya!! And I have a new sense of relief that this kind of thing has happened to other people. It feels so odd when I get those DM’s about someone’s business & “what item would you like to start with?” kind of message. Your response was lovely….I might steal it!!

    I appreciate your truth & honesty too!! Years ago, my daughter asked me if it would matter if one person read what I wrote or 1000 people did? From that day forward I decided that it wouldn’t…I would just move forward each day & do whatever it was that the Lord asked of me.

    Blessings to you in your ministry!!

    1. You can totally use my response anytime! Your daughter asked a very wise question. I came face to face with that very idea and realized that it really comes down to one thing – being obedient to what God has asked us to do. The outcome is for Him to decide, and we should rest knowing that we spoke/wrote/ventured out in business according to His call and assignment on our life. Thank you for joining in the discussion!

  4. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to speak Truth. In a culture with millions of people vying for position as an online presence, the temptation to adopt worldly strategies to gain recognition is real. In the end each of us is truly only playing to an “Audience of One” — far better would it be to remain obscure and unnoticed by the world, than to dishonor Him in the end.

    1. Very well said! I agree wholeheartedly with you – honoring Him above all else is what really matters, and it is the reason we should be doing it in the first place. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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