It’s Business…Lessons in Humility, Part 3

Welcome  I hope you enjoyed your weekend.  It seems like we are getting to the time of year when the weather is getting a little crazy!  Where I live, it can’t seem to make up its mind if it wants to still be winter or start the transition to spring.  It sure makes it interesting when trying to make plans!  But weekends are typically fun, no matter what, right?

A couple weeks ago I did a 2-part series on being humble.  As I’ve been reflecting on that, and I noticed another challenge I have in my life while working on becoming more humble.  It’s the idea of self-promotion.  Before becoming a blogger and writer, I was a teacher.  There was no self-promotion involved, thank goodness!  Parents and students are the ones that do most of the promoting, and let’s face it, there’s no real “promotion” involved anyway.  Most of the time, teachers are pretty much stuck on their one path.  I know I sure was!  Trying to become a successful blogger and writer is MUCH different.  I’m going to talk about this side of humility today.

Food For Thought  Even before I shared my posts about becoming humble in my Christian life, I was experiencing the disgrace that accompanies pride (Proverbs 11:2).  Luckily, with humility comes wisdom (same verse!)  I spent some time doing Bible studies and verse mapping on the topic of being humble in the hopes of personal application.  If anything, my experiences had reminded me that I could bring it down a notch or two, even if I was “just” a teacher or a speed-challenged distance runner.  I’ve spent this time working on not thinking more of myself than I ought to and remembering that all of my gifts, talents, abilities, and possessions are from God as He sees best for my life.  Then comes time for me to grow my writing career.

In the business world, which I admit to having little experience, a flattering sales pitch is very important.  I cannot expect to promote my website, blog, recipes, or book by saying, “Yeah, but it’s just okay.  I’m not great at this, but pay me for my service anyway.”  In business, whatever product is being sold has to be promoted as amazing, wonderful, and great.  When you are promoting a service, such as free-lance writing or devotional leadership, you have to make yourself sound amazing, wonderful, and great.  That’s troublesome for me for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it’s really out of character for me, despite my encounters with pride I shared in my previous posts.  It just doesn’t come naturally for me to boast about myself or my accomplishments.  In fact, I’m more often guilty of the opposite.  I needlessly focus on minor failures and setbacks, believing they define my whole life and purpose.  So it is a shift for my mindset to talk about what I’m good at and attempt to draw others’ attention to those areas.  Which leads me to my second problem with self-promotion in business.  Just writing that previous sentence, “draw others’ attention to those areas,” sounds wrong.  I was taught that bragging and boasting were wrong and sinful.  This certainly goes against what I’ve been studying in my verses regarding being humble.  But I do believe there is a way God and I can partner on this endeavor.

We’ve been promoting ourselves on earth for a long time.  It starts at an early age when you try out for sports teams or band in school.  Then we begin to fill out college and scholarship applications, listing all of our many awards and achievements.  After college, ideally, we go through the job application and resume’ process.  Again, this is all about self-promotion and getting the attention of others, in the form of potential employers.  As we try to climb the ladder in our chosen career, or even change careers, we have to start that process all over again.  We all know that being dull and underachieving on those applications will get you zero to few offers.  God knows that too and I believe He will help us in our pursuits if we remember a few key points.

While promoting ourselves in the business world it is important to maintain three things: honesty, integrity, and humility.  I’m sure we all know, either personally or at the corporate level, people that struggle with one or all of these things.  But this is not about them.  This is about what I can do to promote myself and my business while remaining humble.  First, all of my words must be honest.  If my ideas came from somewhere else, I need to give proper credit.  If I had some struggles reaching the final outcome, admit this.  If I say my words are from scripture, I need to list chapter and verse.  Integrity includes a lot of honesty, but goes much deeper than that, too.  If I say I am a Christian author, I need my work and affiliates to reflect that.  This would be why I currently have no advertising on my site.  I did not like that I couldn’t have more control over what types of products or brands were being promoted using services like Google AdSense.  Now I have the task of finding advertising and affiliates that do not contradict my beliefs.  Does this make my job considerably harder?  Absolutely, but it’s worth it to maintain my integrity and what I want my brand to stand for.  And finally, I can maintain humility in promoting my business and writing by remembering to give God the glory.  God will bring me the success that He feels I can handle and will work best for His plan.  Any achievements and accomplishments that I receive, I know are from Him.  He has the power to bring me offers and jobs, without sacrificing my honesty, integrity, or other beliefs.  So, now, let’s talk business!

Today’s Scripture  When I did my walk through the Gospels last week to share the commands of Jesus, I noticed “be humble” showing up on several occasions across the four books.  I won’t go back and recite every verse from that study, but you can click here to find out more.  I am just going to share one passage.  This is Matthew 23:11-12:

“The greatest among you will be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Today’s Recipe  Can you believe it’s less than five weeks until Easter?  We are in our final days of February and it’s time to start planning for spring celebrations, including Easter Sunday.  In my mind, Easter should be celebrated even more than Christmas!  I have a recipe to share that makes a great Easter dessert and you can get the kids involved too!  The cake is a classic white cake from a doctored-up white cake mix.  It’s frosted with a homemade white chocolate cream cheese frosting.  The decorations are made from pastel colored candy melts.  This is the fun part for the kids!  They can let their creativity and imagination fly!  It’s the best of both worlds…Easter candy and decorating eggs!  Please note, I made my cake with only two layers, but it would look even more impressive as a four-layer cake.  I just didn’t want all that cake hanging around at my house right now, you know what I mean?  For a festive event or family gathering, simply double all the cake and frosting ingredients.  You don’t need to double the candy recipe.  We had plenty of extra candy eggs, but this is good in case some break.  Have fun!

Easter Cake
Classic White Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Candy Eggs
  • 1 pkg plain white cake mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
  • Candy Eggs and Flowers (directions below)
  • shredded coconut (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and flour pans to prevent sticking.  [Using silicone pans will also help achieve clean layers]  Place four ingredients in mixer and combine until smooth.  Divide batter evenly between two pans.  Place both pans on middle rack of oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove baked cakes and place on cooling racks.  Allow to cool 10-15 minutes.

Cool cakes completely before frosting.

Turn cakes out onto cooling racks to finish cooling 45 minutes to an hour before frosting.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 6 oz white chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter together until creamy.  Break white chocolate into pieces and melt over medium heat until smooth.  Add chocolate and vanilla to butter mixture and beat to combine.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating between additions, until desired frosting consistency is achieved.  When ready to frost cakes, place a layer of coconut on bottom of cake plate, if using.  Place one cake layer on top of coconut and add a thin layer of frosting to cake.  Put top cake layer in place.  Continue to frost top and sides of cake.  Smooth as needed.

To make Candy Eggs and Flowers, you will need assorted pastel colored candy melts.  I used Make N’ Mold vanilla-flavored candy wafers from Hobby Lobby in white, pink, yellow, blue, and purple.

Supplies for making candy eggs and flowers

Line baking sheets with wax paper or parchment.  In separate bowls, microwave candy melts according to package directions, stirring until smooth.  Using a spoon, add a small amount of candy melt in desired color to wax paper and shape into oval or egg shape.

Egg-shaped base-use toothpicks to smooth surface

The next part is super fun for the kids.  Using spoons, drizzle different colored candy melt back and forth for a striped effect.  You can also make dots and splotches.  For a marbled effect, run a toothpick down through the colors and then back up on the next swipe, alternating up and down stripes, as seen in the pink and purple egg.

To make flowers, or other designs, place a base color and layer 2 or 3 more colors on top in decreasing amounts.  For flowers, I tried to make more round bases, rather than ovals.  Do this before the colors set or the swirling will not work.

Layering colors

Using toothpicks, swirl colors together or stretch out the sides of the colors to form abstract petals.  Here are just a couple of examples.  If your kids are helping with this, let them see what ideas they can come up with.

Abstract candy flowers
Abstract flowers

Repeat refrigeration for flower candies as was done for the egg candies.  When candies are set, remove from refrigerator, breaking off excess candy melt from the sides.  Your kids will be delighted to help eat the “scraps!”

Use the candy eggs to add a fun border to your cake or decorate as you prefer.  The best things about this cake: delicious and moist white cake, the best white chocolate frosting that accompanies the coconut garnish well, candy melting wafers are really easy to work with for making decorations, and my daughter’s delight in getting to help make the candy eggs and decorate the cake.  Two things that would make this cake even better: two more layers of cake so the candies don’t look bigger than the cake and/or make the candies smaller for a more manageable size.

Decorate as desired.