Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church, has warned that self-promotion can become a dangerous trap for Christians, as it prevents one from reaching their God-given potential.
During a sermon delivered last week, Johnson urged audiences to wait on God's perfect timing to fulfill their dreams.
"Self-promotion causes many ministries and many individuals to never reach their potential, because they relied on self-promotion," he contended. "Maybe in the guise of, 'Well, if I do this correctly, more people will get saved, more people will hear the gospel, more people will read my book, more people will do this or that,' not realizing they're driven by a need for recognition, a need for applause."
He added, "When we find ourselves in those moments of deep insecurity, we feed from the applause of people, and when the applause goes to someone else, it provokes ugly things in us."
The pastor used the stories of Kings David and Saul to illustrate how easy it is to seek self-promotion outside of God's timing.
"If ever there was someone who was disqualified from being King of Israel, it was Saul," Johnson said, explaining that God designated David to be king instead of Saul due to Saul's continued disobedience.
Saul attempted to kill David multiple times, Johnson pointed out.
"He's thrown a spear at him, he's done all kinds of insane things," he said. "And, God has protected him every time."
However, when given the chance, David refused to kill Saul (1 Samuel 24) - a decision Johnson called a "stunning moment in history."
"He refused to promotion through his own effort, Johnson said. "He refused to fall into the trap of self-promotion. Before he's even a king, [David] displays to us the ways of a king."
He continued, "David had such a fear of God to not fall into self-promotion that he would rather live under the oppression of an inferior king than to...take his role as king out of God's perfect timing."
Johnson pointed out that David did not live a perfect life - in fact, he made some "serious blunder -- yet God called him a man after His own heart.
"What if David, actually set the stage for how he would be treated his entire reign when he refused to take control of God's promise for him out of order, out of sequence?" he asked.
The pastor explained that just as premature babies need extra care, "when we move into self-promotion, we are actually giving birth to things at five months, at six months, that need constant care to keep them alive."
He concluded, "Sometimes, our anxiousness is just that evidence of insecurity, evidence that...my identity is wrapped up in the size of the crowd, or whatever it might be, however it fits into your world."