Persona: The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others
The buzz these days in business, in ministry, in the non-profit world, in sports, in politics, and on social media is building a personal brand. We all have one, and some of us are experts in tapping into it and being strategic about it. In my business, I have a lot of interest in coaching people to understand and to develop their personal brand in order to connect genuinely with their audience. In reality, I see it as helping them know and examine themselves and their strengths and to embrace themselves and what they have to offer others. I find that many women do not know the beauty of who they are and do not think they have anything “special” to offer. I enjoy encouraging people to live bravely and authentically as themselves. Sometimes our “brand” is born naturally and sometimes it is painstakingly crafted. I can read somebody attempting to build a brand pretty quickly, and I can read and smell authenticity and the opposite. I have embraced more of who I am and realize that my brand was there without too much strategic thought. Truthfully, me living as me on social media has opened up opportunities for me to help others.
I have spent some headspace lately thinking about how much of the true self comes through with social media and the “spin” we execute when building our personal brand. How much of our energy and thinking goes into this? I’m thinking…what if we actually invested that in our actual character? Lately, I have heard several people speak of loving the persona of someone but being disappointed with the person in real life–maybe there was some false advertising:). And, 2 dimensional never translates to 3 dimensional, therefore, it is impossible to share everything.
One of the downfalls of our “branding yourself” society is this: we can easily spend more time constructing our persona than growing as real people and investing in and serving real people. In fact, It’s not even just business these days. With Social media profiles, where we build a following and build a personal brand, we can easily become absorbed with self. Our hearts and minds can be consumed with what we will say about the hottest topic or how we will be funny or how we can best capitalize on a picture or experience to fit with our “brand.” We can become obsessed with the “response” of people to us and to our message. We can equate our worth with how much we are “seen” and “liked.” It can be a slippery slope to self-promotion where we miss the message that we were created to carry.
The problem is as believers our allegiance is not to promote ourselves. Our purpose is not to magnify our self-worth. I began writing this blog last night and was reminded this morning in corporate worship that our mark of faithfulness in this life is in servitude to Jesus and in stewarding the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1). Think of the humility of God coming to earth as a man. Philippians 2 speaks of Jesus considering equality with God something not to be grasped and making Himself a servant and becoming obedient unto death all for the glory of God. In John 5:41, Jesus himself said “I do not receive glory from people.” All throughout John, Jesus speaks of listening to the Father and seeking not His own will but the will of Him who sent Him.
So, what are we to do with these conflicting ideas? Do we run from being business owners? Do we divorce ourselves from all social media? Do we cloister ourselves away from all things that can become snares and temptations to us? Do we not write or speak or create for fear we are self-promoting? This is sometimes the knee-jerk reaction to seeing our sin. We fear, and then we shut down and pull our voice and influence away. However, we are called to be a city on a hill, salt and light in a world that desperately needs to see The Glory of the One and Only full of grace and truth. So, we have to learn the balance of examining our hearts and surrendering our own wills. We can easily be deceived–we deceive ourselves quite well.
I have learned that some do not have the skills and bent to know how to examine their hearts. So, I will present several helpful questions we can ask ourselves:
1) Where do your thoughts camp? Do you invest more time in building your persona (thinking about what you will post or how you will promote your business) or in living less of you and more of Him? Are you spending time being shaped by the Word and the Lord and living out of that?
2) What is your purpose in building a brand or persona? All things can be done and leveraged for the glory of God, and all things can become an idol.
3)Has your “schtick” become the “it” and not your original purpose? Ask your good friends what they see in you.
4) Look at what you are saying and doing (social media and publically). How are you leveraging your life for the sake of the Gospel message? Is it more about you and your message or His message?
5) What part of your life are you serving others? Are you using your gifts and brand for the benefit and service of others?
Do not give up your voice. Work to find the voice and the service God created in you to steward for His purposes. This takes work and prayer and looking in the mirror. I champion us all to wrestle on!