Thursday, February 5, 2009

Love does not boast...

...Love does not boast....

(I Cor 13:4)

When I found out I was blogging on boasting today, it occurred to me that I'd never really done a Bible study on this word alone. Yes, I'd studied about pride. And yes, I've strived to practice thinking of others more than myself, but I realized something interesting when I did a Biblical word search on boasting.

Know what I found out?

Well, I'll tell ya anyway. LOL!

Not all boasting is bad. What kind of boasting is okay?
--the kind that brings attention to God rather than us. (1 Sam 2:1-3)
--the kind that serves to make God famous rather than us. (Ps 44:8)
--the kind that gives God credit for things done in our lives. (Ps 34:2)
--the kind that honors others above ourselves. (2 Cor 9:2-3)
--the kind that encourages believers that they are on the right track(2 Cor 7:14)
--the kind that builds others up (2 Cor 10:13-15)

The kind of boasting that is not okay:
--the kind that takes credit away from God for things accomplished (1 John 2:16)
--the kind that robs attention from God (James 4:16)
--the kind that steals glory and fame that belongs to God (Judges 7:2)
--the kind that tears others down (1 Cor 5:6)
--the kind that discourages and disheartens those who feel they can't measure up when we elevate ourselves rather than let God do it. (Ps 94:4)

When is it okay to boast?
In the Lord(in his abilities, accomplishments, deeds, character, etc)
In others (for the purpose of encouraging and admonishing them to obedience and toward a closer relationship with God)

When is it not okay?
To boast in ourselves (over our abilities, accomplishments, gifts, deeds, character, etc. Anything that takes credit away from the One who really deserves it)


When I first sold my books, I SO struggled with promoting them, because I felt like I was braggin, boasting or otherwise trying to push myself off on people. It's a fine line to honor our publishers by helping to get the word out about our books, without making it seem like we are tooting our horn.

Another thing I struggle with is when to share writing accomplishments. When both of my debut novels received Top Picks, I HAD to let my writing colleagues know. Especially since some of them had mentored me. Though I sent that e-mail with a pure heart in that I really was trying to encourage them because they'd spent time helping me, another part of me just CRINGED as soon as the e-mail sent. I automatically worried that people would think I was bragging on myself.

So now I opt to let others share any good news I have. Not saying it's wrong to toot our own horns when we have an accomplishment, I'm just being real here in saying that I really struggle with knowing when I've crossed a line. Generally people love to hear about our good news and accomplishments. But it goes down easier I think when it's not the person themselves sharing the news. Reconciling that sort of thing and knowing how to share the good news about myself in such a way that it brings honor and attention to God and others rather than myself and doing it without being cringeworthy is key for me.

As authors, we definitely rely on readers to help us get the word out about our books. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to market books. The problem is, many authors struggle with marketing themselves because we've been conditioned that bringing attention to ourselves is somehow wrong. If you like an author and their books, one of the best things you can do for them is tell others about their books so they don't have to. LOL!

Thank you for dropping by our blog today!

Now, I'd like to hear from you all. Has there been a time in your life when someone else's bragging/boasting has driven you up a wall? Without mentioning names, I'd love to hear how you coped with that, as well as any struggles you've had with boasting.

Hopefully boastless,



  1. I love, love, love the graphic. And, someday, I'm definitely turning your blog into a Boasting Bible Study. I probably need to be zapped. Part of me agrees with you. I'm always rearranging my signature line because sometimes it looks like too much. OTOH, I've always found it fascinating that men tout their successes while women tend to downplay theirs. Hmmm, not fair. Hmmm, I'm seeing Betsy's little green monster here.

  2. What a cute graphic!!!!
    Great post on boasting.

  3. Nice post, Cheryl.

    I don't have a story about boasting to share, but I will say that I love how you gave us those verses about the boasting that is not bad.

    It's all focused on God and others. It's went we focus on ourselves is when we fall into trouble.

    Nicely written.

  4. Cheryl,
    Wow! Your post is a real lesson in making sure we remember God, the One who makes all things possible.

  5. Cheryl,
    Loved your post. I know what you mean about sharing your successes. I want to share my accomplishments as an author, but it does feel like bragging when what I want it to feel like is sharing my joy. The truth is, we can only control our own motivation. We can’t control the perception of others. Some people will see it as boasting no matter what our intentions were. A little reminder that our talents come from Him is good for us all.

  6. Cheryl, thanks so much for sharing those examples of good boasting!

    Now the bad boasting... I've worried that I've boasted over my children and their accomplishments. I'm trying to be very sensitive to that now, to make sure I'm more careful. I think it's just one of those areas that's hard because we're so proud of them! But I need to realize not everyone is as interested in my kids as I am. LOL

    I think the big question is to always ask: Does this glorify God? And then we use that as a measuring stick of whether or not to say something.

    Like Lynn said, it's when we focus on ourselves that we fall into trouble.

  7. Hi Cheryl! You hit the "ego" nail on the head. Christians who pursue careers that put them in the public arena walk a tightrope. We have to have enough self-confidence to creative and put ourselves out there with our books, etc. On the other hand, our careers in the end are in God's hands.
    My rule of thumb is to be sensitive about talking up my career when interacting with other writers.

    But when I am dealing with readers, booksellers, librarians, etc, part of my job is to let them know I'm alive, kicking and writing.

    Cheryl, your guidelines about good and bad boasting is FAB!

  8. You know, Pamela...I never noticed that about men...but now that you mention it...I can't picture my mom stretching out her hands to show how big was the fish she just caught. LOL!

    Margaret, thank you for coming by. YOU are one of those, the main one really, authors who mentored me. I know you won't brag on yourself, so I'm boasting it here that you mentored me.

    Deborah Clopton also was a great source of inspiration. And so was Lenora and many other LI ladies. It's such a blessing to be among ladies who live what they write.



  9. Lynn..very well said! Thank you for visiting our blog. This was my first post here and I'm honored you're here.

    Merrillee, it's so true. We'd have none of this ability or drive if it weren't for Him. Boasting on Merrillee too who I kept up half the night at a conference once gleaning from her wisdom. LOL!

    Pat, you're so right about only being able to control our own motivation. For some reason sometimes I still cringe though. LOL!

    Missy you have a LOT to brag about regarding your kids. They are truly gifted. The really neat thing is that people do see your heart in that they know you know their abilities come from God. And, gosh...what parent doesn't swell inside at their child's accomplishment after hard work? Much better than the parent not caring or noticing at all.

    Lyn, like you, I find it easier, more natural to talk about my books among industry professionals. 90% of the people at my church don't even know I write. LOL.

    Thanks for coming by all! After I posted, I was afraid it would come across as sermon-ish. Yick. LOL.


  10. Cheryl, thanks for the great sermon!!!!


    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    It's tough to know what's boasting and what's sharing when you're talking success. Like Missy, I take pride in my kids, in my work, in my abilities and I like how Michael Landon viewed the Proverb about pride going before destruction when he confronted Mrs. Olson on Little House on the Prairie..

    (there's a point here somewhere, promise!)

    He told her he thought it meant loss of pride can trip us up and I can see that as relevant. A certain amount of self-assurance helps us to do our best, be our best.

    But that skates a thin line, doesn't it????

    And since Cheryl is one of the most humble, altruistic people I know, I'm going to take advice from the expert.

    And while we're here, let me boast on her talents, her devotion, her faith and the way she looks out for others.

    Just for the fun of it!

    Good job, Squirl.


  11. Hi Cheryl:

    Thanks for showing me the way to this wonderful blog!

    I believe that I have read at least one book from every author here, over 20 books from one, over 10 from two other authors. I’ve meet two authors in person, and my wife was mistaken once (at a RWA Chapter meeting) for another author here. Like I said, this is a wonderful blog!

    Now about your post:

    “It’s not bragging if you can do it.”

    Dizzy Dean (1930s) & Brian Bosworth (1990s)

    For Pamela I might add:

    Traditionally men have been more self-promoting because they have had wives and children to support.

    I once heard a Native American woman say that the Indian words for ‘humble man’ were ‘bad hunter’.

    Also, there is the Eskimo saying that “Only the lead sled dog gets a decent view”.

    However, I prefer the quote in Matthew: 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

    I think that promoting you books is a way to ‘let your light shine’ and to the degree your books exemplify Christian values, to that same degree you are doing the work of the Lord.

    I think the ‘bragging’ problem comes about when you start to promote yourself and not your works. When you talk about all the contests or awards you’ve won as opposed the awards your books have won. (It’s bragging when anyone can see its ‘gone to your head’.)

    Given that for some readers, the nearest they get to a church service is when they are reading a Christian Inspirational; I think you have a duty to promote your books.



  12. What a great post. I love that we can celebrate our triumphs with those who understand and we can be meek and keep quiet when we don't want to overstep that boundary between celebration and just plain old "bragging!"

    Lenora :) Who brags on all of you!

  13. Great post, Cheryl!! Lots of important reminders for us all.
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

  14. Vince,
    That makes a lot of sense. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

  15. Ruthy! Thank you for stopping by! And for the kind words. Don't let me forget to sign that check. LOLOL! Seriously, one of these days me thinks YOU will be on this LI blog posting AS ONE OF ITS AUTHORS.

    Ruthy has editors fighting over her, y'all.

    Vince, thanks for your insights!

    And Lenora, only another writer understands how hard and few and far between some of these writerly accomplishments are. One thing I love about this industry is how everyone champions each other. I mean, what other industry do you know of that so greatly encourages their competition! Technically anyway. LOL.

    Patti Jo! Always great to see you! Thanks so much for coming by.

    Pamela, LOL about the squeaky wheel. My husband says that ALL the time.

  16. Cheryl, this is so good. I love the way you laid out the boasting 'verbs'.
    It is, indeed, hard to find that fine line between boasting and sharing the joy of an accomplish--not to mention the necessity in this business of promotion.
    Good post!

  17. Cheryl, this is so good. I love the way you laid out the boasting 'verbs'.
    It is, indeed, hard to find that fine line between boasting and sharing the joy of an accomplish--not to mention the necessity in this business of promotion.
    Good post!

  18. Hot topic! It really is a thin line to cross: sharing our good news vs. boasting about our accomplishments.

    I want to hear other author's accomplishments because it motivates me and I just feel so happy for them. I assume the authors I know feel the same for me.

    The key for me is to always share the bad stuff and the good stuff. My friends know all about my rejections as well as any triumphs I have.

    Maybe the key is who we're sharing with? Go ahead and boast--ahem, "share"--to your mom and your close friends but be a bit more modest with the rest of the world.

    I've put my foot in my mouth plenty of times--maybe I'll get better as I age?

    Thanks for the wonderful counseling--it's truly a blessing to be able to read this blog.
    Jill Kemerer

  19. Great post Cheryl!

    Boasting. I think this monster goes hand in hand with my green one from the other day. =) Maybe boasting can be the purple monster? lol

    I know what you mean about struggling with that line between tootnig our horn and sharing genuinely good news. And just FYI -you can always tell me your good news and I'll rejoice and never think you're boasting. =) All of you!!

    I like Missy struggle with sounding boastful over my 6 montho ld daughter. I don't mean it that way, but sheesh, she's so darn adorable its hard not to brag! lol But I know I didn't make her that cute, GOD did, and so I just remember that as I accept compliments on her adorable-ness and make sure I don't get a big head =)

  20. Linda, Jill and Betsy,

    Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts!

    Jill, thanks for your kind words about the blog. I only recently joined but was an avid reader of it prior to getting to be a part. For sure, these LI ladies are wonderfully inspiring.


  21. Wow, Cheryl. Considering that I recently put a post on my blog entitled 'I'm a Finalist!' I'd say your post is just what I needed.

    I was trying to let my friends and family share my good news but you're right... I didn't mention anywhere that it's only because God is directing my life that I rec'd the privilege.

    It's a great post. I actually knew you were the author before I was halfway through. It just sounded like you.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  22. Anita, thanks for coming by! And I think anyone who knows you, knows your heart and can see that you know God is the source of all of our blessings.

    CONGRATS ON YOUR FINAL!!!!! I'm SO proud of you!!!