Last month Chloe Sun at Asian American Women on Leadership posed the question, “How do you let others know who you are without coming across as self-promoting?”  She noted that, as leaders of various ministries and organizations, we must promote our causes and invite others to join us. Publicizing and being a spokesperson for what we’ve given our lives to is part of the job.

My passion is helping Christian women love themselves as we love God and others. Thirty years of ministry and clinical work shows me that while many excel at loving others and God, we often neglect our own spiritual, mental and physical health. Where did we learn this?  Not from the culture around us, but with encouragement from an unexpected source.

Growing up in Christian community, I often heard authorities challenge the concept of self-love. I especially remember an acronym taught at camp: How do you get JOY? From putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last.

Such thinking can arise when scripture verses like Philippians 2.3 – “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves” – are read outside of their fuller context, promoting a distorted view of self-care as secondary to caring for others.  When read at face value, such admonitions  seem to tell us that loving others means negating ourselves, thus encouraging our insecurity about being “too much”, taking up too much space and using too many resources.

Yet such insecurities are anything but loving. How is my playing it small and being afraid to step forward to share the good news of what God has taught me and is doing through me helping anyone?

An exposition of the biblical and theological meanings of love is beyond the scope of this post. My point is that when biblical texts or church teachings contribute to anxiety and self-neglect, we’ve clearly gotten the meaning wrong.

Love the Supreme Emotion

From a social sciences perspective, love is a sharing of positive emotional connection between people that elicits a desire to act in ways that support mutual well-being. When I “promote myself” in teaching a class or facilitating a retreat, I ooze with love. Few experiences give me as much positive emotion as supporting psychological, physical and spiritual well-being in others. Most often I feel that sense of positive connection among the entire group strengthen as we move through our time together. And we all leave with a stronger commitment to loving ourselves as we love others.

When our self-promotion comes from a place of love, then refusing to self-promote may be the most unloving thing of all. Letting others know who we are and inviting them to join our causes, participate in our programs or purchase our products and services is an act of love.

I’d love to support you in loving yourself as you love God and others. You can still sign up for “Self-Care through Mindful Awareness” this Saturday, March 22nd, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in South Pasadena. I’d love to support you in loving yourself as your love others either this Saturday or at a future workshop, yoga class or retreat. Sign-up for my newsletter (lower right sidebar) to get updates.

Thanks to my sisters at AAWOL who originally published this blog on their website. If you like what you read here, consider following their blog also.