What The Bible Says About Promotion


Truth be told, the Bible doesn’t directly address the subject of promotion. Nevertheless, I think I discovered a principle that applies. It’s called generosity.

When people generously give, whether it is of their material wealth, their time, their ideas, their work effort, or whatever else it might be, people respond, usually by telling others. Or, more accurately, by praising the individual to others.

I think there is a fine line between genuine generosity and the kind of tit-for-tat promotion that smacks of “bought and paid for” buzz. And I found an example of that fine line in a real Old Testament account.

I’m referring to Joseph. Twenty-eight or -nine year old Joseph, by this time. He was still in prison and had just interpreted the dream of a fellow prisoner, the king’s cupbearer. According to the dream, the man would be reinstated to his job in three days. And Joseph asked a tit for a tat.

Tell the king about me, he said. I’ve been kidnapped and besides I am no criminal, yet I’m languishing in this prison. I’ve helped you, now please help me.

But the cupbearer forgot.

Maybe intentionally, at least in the beginning. After all, he had just returned to the king’s good graces and undoubtedly didn’t want to start back to work asking for special favors. Day after day slipped by and no mention of Joseph.

Until the king had a dream.

Now the cupbearer had a reason to mention Joseph. Not for Joseph’s sake, but for the king’s. No tit for tat here. The cupbearer had a chance to help the king because … who knows, maybe he wanted nothing more than to help the king. Maybe he was hoping for a tat in return.

The point is, Joseph’s bargain making didn’t bring about his release. His generosity did.

Well, of course, God actually did. And it was in His perfect time. If Joseph had been released earlier because the cupbearer came through, perhaps he would not have been in position to help his family or be reconciled to them.

But Joseph stayed in place, by God’s decree, until the time was right. Until the time when he could provide the interpretation of the king’s dream, the advice about what to do in light of the revelation, and the wherewithal to pull it off.

He himself later told his brothers God had sent him ahead that he might provide the means of deliverance for his family. In other words, that he might become a type of Christ, the Redeemer.

Because of Joseph’s special place in history, I can’t say that self promotion was wrong because it didn’t work for him. Rather, it just wasn’t what God had in mind for Joseph.

And that’s the real lesson I learned here. I may think I know a good way to work things out, and it’s not wrong for me to try it, but the most important thing is for me to be and do what God calls me to, and trust that He will take care of spreading the word in His perfect time.

This article was originally posted in August 2008 under the title “Biblical Promotion

Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm  Comments (2)  
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