Monday, October 01, 2012

Have Some Exciting News to Share? Or is it Just Bragging?

Over the last few days I have been wondering about the difference between bragging and sharing exciting news.  I have seen a lot of what I have initially considered bragging on Facebook, and it often makes me roll my eyes and judge the person who I think is bragging.  When I had something exciting to share last week, I hesitated, because I was concerned that it would come across as bragging (and then people would roll their eyes and judge me as I do them).  I only came to the decision to share it after thinking about it for a few hours and talking to a couple of friends about it.  I came to the conclusion that since I also wanted the other nine people to receive their recognition that it was not just about me, and so I shared it.

After I thought about how I wanted to share something exciting, I started to wonder if whether or not what I see people share is simply that:  sharing exciting news.  Maybe it really is "hey!  I am excited about this great thing that happened to me" instead of "hey!  Look at me and who I know or what I did."

I knew there was a verse in the New Testament about boasting in the Lord, and so I wanted to look it up as well as other occurrences of the word boast and see what I found (please note that the following thoughts are my initial thoughts; I wanted to get this ready to post for another round of the Ultimate Blogging Challenge) so I didn't look up any commentaries or even at the notes in my Bible).

When Paul writes to the Corinthians, he tells them that if he is going to boast, he "will boast of the things that show [his] weakness" (2 Corinthians 11:30).  And in his letter to the Galatians, he writes "May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14).  And in his first letter to the Corinthians, he writes that he is glad he only baptized Crispus and Gaius, "so that no one can say that [they]were baptized in [his] name" (1 Corinthians 1:14-15).  Paul does not want the focus to be on himself, but on Jesus.  He doesn't want people to follow him; he wants people to follow Jesus.  He goes on to say at the end of this chapter that, regarding calling, God chooses the foolish, the weak, the low, and the despised so that nobody may boast about themselves in the presence of God.  And then, in 2 Timothy 3:2 he warns Timothy that "people will be lovers of themselves" and will be boasters (among a litany of other things).

Can you imagine if our Facebook pages looked like that?

  • Hey!  Today I came in dead last in my race!
  • I lost my temper and yelled at my kids all day long.  Not really thinking of them as a blessing today.
  • Nobody likes me.
  • I really stink at leadership, even though I'm supposed to be good at it.
  • I am so glad nobody follows me on Twitter
  • I did the stupidest thing today
  • I hurt someone I really care about
  • Look at all my pictures of when I had the flu [instead of an exotic vacation]
Later, though, Paul does tell Timothy this:  "Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and suffering..." (2 Timothy 3:10-11).  

I thought, gee, doesn't that seem as if he is bragging about himself, listing all those good qualities he has?  Can you imagine if you saw someone post that on Facebook?  We'd think they were really full of themselves.

But I think rather than boasting, Paul is just confident in himself and his purpose is not to make Timothy think Paul is so great, but rather, his purpose is to encourage Timothy in his own faith.  

I think that is the key, here.  When we draw attention to ourselves, are we doing it so that people notice us, or are we doing it so that people notice Jesus and are encouraged in their own faith?

What are your thoughts about the fine line between boasting and genuinely sharing news and exciting life events?  What would your Facebook page look like if you boasted of your weaknesses?  What is the line between confidence and arrogance?  When you post exciting news, what is deep in your heart behind posting it?


Michelle Shaeffer said...

Great question. I can't judge the motivation of others since I don't know what's in their hearts. Often I think it's genuine excitement and desire to share good news and blessings so we can all celebrate together, and not necessarily a desire to "brag" so my default is to assume that. I agree, it's a tough line to find for myself. One of the most difficult things for me in business (since it does require at least some confidence and "listing" of abilities to serve others with) has been learning to acknowledge gifts and talents that God has given me or allowed me to attain. Is it bragging to say I am capable of something or strive for something or have achieved something, knowing it's by God's grace and for His purpose in my life? Or is it denying God's gifts and plan for my life if I stay quiet and don't use those talents to help and inspire others just so I'm never judged by someone else as boastful? I know I'm not the only one who wants to strive to err on the side of studying to be quiet and let others praise us... and when they do, I think it's okay to share. :)

Kelly J Youngblood said...

And then to go along with it, people do need to promote their business, and they should. I have wondered it myself in my writing...when I started blogging regularly again (thanks to YOU and the UBC, by the way!) I really hesitated to share my posts on FB. But at the same time, I like when my friends share what they are writing or what is going on in their lives...I don't know. It's complicated.

TorConstantino said...

Great post. Personally, I think anyone sensitive enough to ask the question whether they are "bragging or sharing" about a given accomplishment is actually closer to getting it right.

BTW, sincerest congratulations on your recent naming to Frank Viola's "Top 10 Christian Female Bloggers" compilation. I'm glad I know you here on the UBC!

TorConstantino said...

Sincerest congratulations to both of you!!! Truly inspiring!!!

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Thanks Tor :) I think my eyes widened more than they ever had when I saw Frank's list. I was pretty shocked. *I* have always thought my blog was good, but there are a LOT of good blogs out there.

Tia Sunshine Dye said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog and the comments so far. I look forward to looking through your past posts later today when my kids get to school. Happy Blogging!

Lena Penteado said...

I think that it is a fine line and it depends on the person - some people love to boast and other people are humble and will be just sharing exciting events.

Janice S said...

Good thoughts here. Makes me wonder what it would look like if we had a "Boast in Your Weakness" Day. #biyw

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Welcome, Tia! Hope you find more that you like.

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Yes...that's what makes it hard.

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Interesting idea...

Jim Fisher said...

I think the fine line between boasting and sharing is more like a ramp. At the bottom of the ramp is a park bench where two or more of us can sit and ask each other about our stories and show genuine interest in them. Touch each other. Ask more questions. Listen to the story. Then pause and wait to be asked for ours. Toward the top of the ramp is Pride. With chest puffed out, we proclaim our stories without noticing or even caring if we have captivated anyone's attention or interest.

I think most of us are somewhere in the middle.

I reach out for the intimacy of the park bench but seldom am able to bind up my noisy pride long enough to truly listen, engage, and empathize with the friend whose story is being told. It is a daily struggle. Especially now when I am starting a new job and meeting dozens of new people. I try to keep my focus on them. I try to listen and not rehearse my response to their story with the intent of trying to top it. I whisper to myself, "ask, don't tell." And some of the time that works.

BTW, there are 83 subscriptions in my newsreader roughly in the order I like to read through them. Kelly, yours is on the very top. You have captivated me and many others. I love where you are headed.

Kelly J Youngblood said...

I love your analogy of the ramp, Jim. That makes a lot of sense. And thanks for having me at the top of your reader...that made me smile :)

Tia Sunshine Dye said...

I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking about this all week. Thank you.

Michelle Shaeffer said...

Yep, totally get that, Kelly. I still have to push myself to share on my personal profile, and most of my posts I don't share there. I usually have no problem sharing on my fan page (if people "like" me -- which just feels weird, too, then they've asked me to share my blog posts and other business news with them is how I look at it).