What Are We Selling? | Christians in Direct Sales

I’m afraid I may ruffle some feathers here.  If I do, that’s ok with me.  I hope it will start a conversation, and we can agree, or disagree, but either way, we’ll all be challenged.  I’ve been wrestling with thoughts on this issue for a while, and to be honest, I’m still wrestling.  But I can’t not talk about it any longer, because I think it’s an issue that really needs to be discussed: the issue of Christians in direct sales.




It’s a fine line.  We want to be women of purpose, and we want to accomplish.  We want to help provide for our families, and we want to impact our world.  If you’re a Christian, you may also be challenging yourself with the description of the Proverbs 31 woman, who ran her business and her household with equal success and drive.  There’s so much pressure on women to do it all and be “it” all.  And there’s beauty excitement in being able to bring income into our homes, and in doing and sharing something we love while we’re at it.


But I’m seeing a disturbing trend, and it concerns me.  It’s a confusing trend of selling ourselves to make a profit.


By that, I mean that often, mamas I know discover the “magic” of direct sales, through multi-level companies.  Sometimes these opportunities are a blessing because they allow flexibility and the opportunity to work from home.  But what seems to happen is that building those businesses on the fast-growing-pace often advertised, relies largely on “selling” the seller.  That means, in some cases, lots of before-and-after pics of thinning bodies.  It means zealous promotion of the product, the program, the lifestyle.  Soon, they’re adding me as a friend and offering me discounted product to review.  They’re posting scripture and they’re posting links to group info calls.  I’m never sure whether I’m reading a devotional thought, or a promo for a new shake deal.  And that’s where, for me, the confusion comes in.

First of all, is the product and/or lifestyle we sell really what God promised, or desires for His followers?  Of course, He may choose to lavish us with worldly riches.  But more often than not, biblical examples and real-world stories show us that He may just as well allow us to suffer physical poverty, struggle, or brokenness, for our good and for His glory.  So if we use His name to promise, with the purchase of our product, that buyers will get worldly wealth, we aren’t being truthful.


One of the biggest concerns I have in this is the area of selling self-help programs and products, and using our bodies to do it.  Photo after photo pops up in my stream of sexy abs and plump cleavage, of bikini bottom before-and-afters, and the complements and “likes” build to a frenzy as we imagine the perfection we think we can achieve. But aren’t we just using a way-scaled-back form of selling our bodies when we have to show parts of us we wouldn’t want our sons staring at to show off the power of a smoothie?  And is it possible there’s a way we can advocate for health and wellness without baring our bikini lines for the internet to appreciate?  Even further, are we advocating a double standard when we teach our daughters modesty, but then bare our bodies (or someone else’s) on our Facebook page?


Now let me make this clear, I know modesty is a very fine line and it varies greatly based on culture, and I (as a wife and a mother of four sons) am very passionate about men taking responsibility for their own eyes and minds.  So I’m not trying to heap on my sisters the sole responsibility for guarding men from what they see.  But, deep breath here… for anyone of us who’s starting from the assumption that our first priority is to honor our Creator by doing what He asks of us, we actually do have a responsibility to be concerned for them and to show it in how we dress.  Hear me clearly, sister.  What they do isn’t my responsibility, and I’m not saying it’s yours.  But whether I choose to help them, well, that is.  I just can’t escape it.  So it is important that I think about whether what I’m wearing (and posting) is for their good.  Will it help them think honoring thoughts about me and other women?  Or will it make it harder for them to honor their wives (or future wives, or others’ wives)?  Is what I share, in my sales and marketing, pointing to God, or is it pointing to a god?


Sometimes, when I look at the stream of a fellow entrepreneur, I wonder, is she promoting her God, or is she promoting (her), a god?


I ask this question with a humble heart, because it’s a question I ask myself often, and I’m ever-fearful of an answer that would hurt my Papa’s heart.  I have this blog and another, Sal et Lux, where I share home decor ideas, recipes, and DIY tips, with the hope to encourage gospel living through hospitality.  I often do public appearances in the food industry, and I LOVE being on camera.  I’m a professional photographer, and for ten years, I ran a business that grew to support my family (with the hard work of my husband when he joined and helped it take off).  I studied hard to learn the skills to be an artist, but also to be a good businesswoman.  I learned about creating a “tribe,” and making myself my own “mascot,” so that my clients would trust the brand, because they know and trust the woman behind the brand, and I ADORE the stuff!  I learned how important it is for people to see the best “me,” because then they believe I have something good to offer.


Currently, I’m in the process of writing my first book.  I’m writing it because I believe I have something to offer that others need.  I believe what I write will glorify God.  And I want to sell that book, because I believe I can add to our family’s provision.  To that end, I’m promoting myself in many areas, and I step back over and over and ask the hard question of what I’m promoting for.


For me, every step I take needs to lead back to the heart of my Savior.  I want to use the gifts He’s given me, and I do hope to contribute financially to my family.  But more important than any of that, I want to give Him glory.  I pray hard (and sometimes, with a lump in my throat, I’ve received the answer in the form of personal challenge from a friend who dared to say good-hard things) that I will be willingly accountable to make this my first goal, and the only one that really matters.


My life exists for one purpose: to glorify God and lead others to Him.


I want to run with joy in the experiences I’m given, but I always, always, want the path to Him to be clear and primary.  There’s a little restless feeling that grows, though, when the lines become blurred between my identity and my image.  I am in danger of being trapped behind that image, and I’m tempted to tweak that image, when I don’t think it will “win” those I want to “influence.”

If you are pursuing a business and promoting, I want to challenge you, especially if you are a Christian, to consider the message you’re sending, and the product you’re selling.



Is your product something that will truly benefit others, also pointing them directly to Him, or is there a muddle of confusion about what exactly is up for purchase?  If your customer buys what you’re selling, will it draw them closer to the call God has for them, or will it primarily add to your bottom line?

If you’re walking this path with intention and thought towards these questions, I want to hear your thoughts on how you keep “first things first.”  How do you make sure there’s no confusion in your message, and that all roads lead directly to the glory of God?

Disclaimer: This article is a daring one, and it’s written to sisters who want to be challenged to live more deeply, more bravely.  For me, bravely has meant, in part, learning to be willing to let go of some of my “rights,” for the sake of love.  It’s going to rub some people the wrong way and that’s ok… I want to open the door for purposeful conversation.  I know some who read don’t begin with the same assumptions I do that God authored our lives and that His word is our guidebook, so if you’re there, it’s ok, too.  If you’re here though, and if you’re reading, comment below and let me know your thoughts.  It’s through thoughtful debate that we stretch and grow, and it’s the whole reason I write.

I’m asking myself these questions, too, so I’m still thinking on this one with you…


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No Fear (Christian Young Adult Book Review)

“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” – Oswald Chambers


Recently, my kids and I traveled to our state capitol to join thousands of others who gathered to pray for our country.  I am very focused, as a parent, on equipping my children to impact their world positively, in ways that call them to courage and integrity.  As Franklin Graham spoke, he encouraged Americans to pray, as Nehemiah prayed, with humility and passion.  I stood a few feet back from my children, and I watched them join hands with people of different races, age, and walks of life.  I was moved by the gift they were given in connecting for a cause that is bigger than they are.  I was also struck with just how dark much of our culture has become, and how increasingly difficult it will be for my children to live faithfully according to their God-given convictions, if our nation continues on the road it’s on.  Recently, I read a book called No Fear, what I would call largely a Christian young adult book, which encouraged me as a mom, and challenged me to pray more purposefully for my kids and their generation, but also gave me great hope at the courage of their peers already, taking a stand for the good of our country.


No Fear is a collection of “real stories of a courageous new generation standing for truth.”


A collection of real-life stories about American kids who stood up to opposition of their faith and of a cause they knew to be morally mandated, this book also ties stories to biblical biographies and principles.  Even more, it includes discussion/journaling questions which would be great for reading this book as a small group.  It is thought-provoking, it is encouraging, and it dares the reader to be bold and humble at the same time.


In a time where kids are at risk of not just peer pressure, but full-on attack from adults they should be able to trust to protect their integrity and freedom, it’s a powerful reminder that they can, like others before them in distant and recent history, take a firm stand.  I highly recommend this book for young adult readers, for families with older children, and for small groups.  It opens the door for powerful discussion with kids about what matters, and how they have a role in God’s plan for the world.  As cultural norms become more muddy, those discussions become more vital.  The next generation needs to know, with solid understanding, what they believe.  They need to be equipped intentionally with tools to lead.  They need to be taught to have respectful, intelligent conversation, but also emboldened to have unequaled courage… to speak the truth in love, even at personal cost.


No Fear presents for kids and young adults a series of portraits of modern-day heroes, and helps them to see the bigger picture of the story of God’s people being salt and light in this world throughout history… daring them to become central characters in the beautiful story He is writing with their lives.


Do you have youth and young adults who need encouragement in their faith walk?  Do you have a story of someone who has been brave, speaking the truth in love?  I’d love to hear.


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I was given a copy of No Fear in exchange for sharing my honest opinion.  I highly recommend this book, and would only share my honest thoughts for readers.



BeFriend (Building Christ-like Relationships)

In short: the book BeFriend, by Scott Sauls, is rocking my world.  I’ve shared often about how transforming a cross-country move has been for our family.  In particular, going from a season of rich, deep friendships, to a season of comparative relational desert, has challenged each member of my family and brought incredible spiritual and personal growth.  Leaving behind one type of relationship (rich in spiritual connection and similar life season/purpose), for both a new location and a new type of relationship-building, has stretched us in ways I didn’t imagine.  Forming new types of relationships has been good-hard, and I’m grateful for it.  But building Christ-like relationships in an increasingly antagonistic culture can be scary and challenging.


Recently, I was given an advance copy of BeFriend, by Scott Sauls.  Scott is a Presbyterian pastor and our theological views are likely similar, so I was intrigued to read his thoughts on creating “belonging in an age of judgment, isolation, and fear.”  At the same time, so much of what is being written and proposed in modern living, even by seeming like-minded people, strays far from not just what is traditional (which isn’t what matters most), but from what is Truth, as defined by the One who made us all.  So as I began reading, I was cautious and watchful for this wandering from what is True.

Sauls digs deep into what genuine relationship looks like, both from a biblical perspective, and functional relationship-building in our modern world.  He is comfortable with tension here, and he challenges readers to seek both.  He addresses what genuine relationship really means, in all its messy, true interaction.


“Real love, real friendship is vulnerable.  And risky.  And costly.  And discomforting.  And disquieting.  And agitating like sandpaper sometimes.  But the alternative is a heart that ends up in a relational casket or coffin.  And who wants that?”

I’ve walked the road of wanting to withdraw when relationship is too hard.  (That’s not to say there isn’t a time and place to withdraw for the right reasons – for creating healthy boundaries and not allowing abuse or dysfunction to rule).  But the idea that we will have to navigate the messy, that it’s to be expected, and that it’s not just livable, but can be beneficial, is a powerful, a convicting, and a strangely freeing one.


Sauls introduces the idea of what he calls transactional friendships, versus one-dimensional friendships.  For this girl who likes to be with people who are like me, his thoughts are challenging… and they’re also somehow empowering.

“One-dimensional friendships prioritize sameness, and so views and convictions and practices are never challenged and blind spots are never uncovered.  Friendships like these can’t offer the natural, redemptive, character-forming tension that diversity brings to our lives.”

I don’t have to be afraid of the uncomfortable tension created with those who are different; In building Christ-like relationships, I need to have my eyes open to how those relationships may grow us both.

I also look back to friendships that were based on similar interests, or on shared seasons of life, and I see how the moments of conflict were part of my friends’ and my mutual growth.  I’m dared to embrace that conflict, and let it send me running toward the God who wants to mold me increasingly into His image, even when the molding is uncomfortable.

Pastor Scott also talks of befriending those who are hard to love: those whose outer shell of over-confidence or unkindness may make them abrasive.  He gives a perspective of understanding what may underlie this wall-building, and how we can love others through it:

“…External bravado is often a cover-up for internal fear and insecurity; the appearance of an inflated self-esteem often camouflages an impoverished view of oneself.”


Sauls talks, in one chapter, of befriending ourselves.  To be honest, I was nervous to read this chapter.  So much of what is being taught today, even by Christians, is self-centered babble that in the end, takes away from genuine love of others, by idolizing ourselves (and it’s often cloaked in beautiful-sounding biblical language).  But again, the author strikes a tight balance between practical advice and gospel-centered perspective.


“Ironically, the often-forgotten goal of learning to “love oneself” is to take the focus off of ourselves.  We learn to “love ourselves” by learning to know and love the God who made us and calls us valuable.  The intended result of this is that, at peace in our loved standing, we are not just free, but compelled, to love others whom He deems valuable.”


I could go on chapter by chapter, but for me, the most powerful and immediately applicable issues are where Scott addresses the “love/condemnation/morality” issue, and more specifically, cultural interaction on the media-hot-button of sexual minority/preference/lifestyle.


Do you ever notice how when you’re learning something, it’s everywhere you turn?

It may be in a book you read, or a sermon or podcast.  A friend may bring it up in discussion.  For some time, that’s been me, with the issue of interacting with others who think, feel, and believe differently from me.  In a neighborhood, a culture, a nation and world in which I’m increasingly in the minority, I get tired of being in relationship where belief, where lifestyle, are always points of contention.  Being real?  It’s exhausting to be in relationship with people who think what I know to be True is foolish.  I want to know how to cope; I want to know how to live the love I know is real, without compromising what I know is True.

In BeFriend, Sauls hits on some of the most prevalent issues I’ve struggled with, regarding cultural interaction for Christians.

In particular, on the issue of “doing life” with those whose lifestyles and sexual choices are different from mine, he offers the most biblical, grace-filled perspective I’ve seen.  He doesn’t waiver on the issue of truth, doesn’t give an inch on what God’s stance is on the morality of sex.  But within that construct, he also proposes a radically important, God-centered perspective on how Christians can show love, can stand for truth, and can be part of transformation, by altering how we “BeFriend” those who believe, and live, differently.

Rather than separate ourselves in an “us versus them,” “I’m better than you and I’m in the majority” stance, we can show love by embracing a “life-giving minority posture.”

Scott, in one small, revolutionary chapter, proposes that “the majority” is exactly the opposite of how the Church should, or should want to, see herself.  Rather, when we are willing to be humble, set apart yet kind, unwavering in both our belief and our grace-giving, we have an opportunity to genuinely live God’s love.  We can model true love for and among those who are different from us.  We are able to love like He does, and in so doing, become instruments of grace.

I’m a highlighter-wielding, pencil-underlining, star-and-circling book reader, and in my copy of BeFriend, this next passage is covered with all of the above:

“…If the true relevance of Scripture is that Scripture shows no interest in being relevant – that is, that it shows no interest in being adapted, revised, or censored in order to be more in tune with the ever-shifting times – then the sex question is one that sincere believers have to wrestle with.  We must remain counter-cultural where the culture and the truth are at odds with one another.  This, and this alone, is what will make Christians truly relevant in the culture.  Compelled by the love of Christ, we must not withhold kindness or friendship from any person or people group, and we must not engage in any sort of “us against them” posturing.  This in itself is counter-culture in modern society.  Compelled by the truth of Christ, we must honor and obey the Creator’s design – even when his design is counter-culture and, at times, counter-intuitive to us.  His ways and thoughts are higher than ours.”

He goes on to propose a better way of “speaking the truth” by living it.  By holding to the biblical standard for relationship as we live it, rather than primarily/solely in word-battles, we genuinely “speak the truth in love,” because we are shining, beautiful examples.  I’m personally challenged, and inspired, by the truth and challenge represented as Scott firmly holds to God’s view of sex (within marriage between one man and one woman) as beautiful, redeeming, and exemplifying His love for His children, while showing how we can run from an arrogant, posturing stance that only repels those who do not understand it.  Even more challenging, BeFriend challenges me to love more deeply within my marriage, to love more purposefully for those who aren’t married.  I’m still chewing on these concepts, and my mind is spinning with the ways I need to grow.

I call myself “daughter of the King.”  Because that’s who I am, I want to be about the business of building Christ-like relationships, whether that’s with people who claim to know Him and love Him, those who want nothing to do with Him, or with those who don’t believe He exists.  It’s scary, it’s challenging, it’s rewarding, and it’s why I’m on this planet.  I want the good-hard.  I want to love, for real.

I’m still going on this book.  I’m anticipating its release so I can share it.  I’m sending snippets to my family as I’m personally being challenged, and as if we’re sitting together sipping lattes and chatting over life-meaning and hard-thoughts, I’m recommending it to you.  It might rock your views, too.

I received an advance copy of this book from BuzzPlant in order to review; all opinions are strictly my own.