How many people really care to hear what you have to say? If you can answer that question, then you know the size of your platform.
The word platform has become the popular term for quantifying our circle of influence or marketing reach. But I believe there is much to learn through the concept of platform that has nothing to do with the business-like use of this word.
In the writing world, platform may be seen as a bane or a blessing. But it is a fact of life whichever way we choose to see it. A fact of life I’m all too aware of as I work to establish mine.
My argument was that platform is a tool for those who want to be famous and I don't want to be famous. I want my life to be significant--to have a significant and positive impact on others. But I'll pass on the need to be famous.
Most people in the Christian writing industry balk at the idea, viewing it as shameless self-promotion for the purpose of selling books. I confess to going through a period of much weeping and gnashing of teeth when told by an agent I had to have one if I wanted to pursue traditional publication.
But if we’re honest with ourselves, what holds us back isn’t humility, but doubt. And I’m not talking about the doubt we have in ourselves, in our ability to say or do the right thing or know the right answer.
I'm talking about unbelief.
In the book Restoration Year, John Eldredge writes:
“If you were convinced that people actually did go to hell unless they knew Christ as Savior, you would have to be far bolder about sharing your faith… Doubt is not a virtue nor humility. Doubt is unbelief.”
I doubt. I doubt what I say matters—or sometimes even makes sense. I doubt my own heart, constantly having to turn aside and ask myself ‘why do I want to do this?’
The ugly and painful truth is, I doubt God’s ability to use me. The God of all Creation, who hung the stars in the sky, who parted the Red Sea, who raised Jesus from the dead. Do I seriously doubt that He can use me? Or is it that I'm just afraid He might?
Sometimes I wonder why He’d want to after all the hesitating, doubting, and disobedience with which I have responded. But to doubt He has the ability seems completely foolish.
So here I sit now, deeply convicted and trying to explain to you why I always hesitate to write this blog. Honestly, it started out as a “have to.” If I want to be signed with an agent, if I want to have my writing read and hopefully one day published, then the size of my platform matters. I need to find people who will want to read what I write—BEFORE I even have a book. I need to build a tribe.
If I'm honest--and I probably should be here--the thought of never having my book published doesn't scare me. Frustrates me , yes. Scares me, no. I love writing and I have come to the place where I know God has given me this to do in this season. I'm just going to keep walking forward and trust Him with where it goes.
What does scare me? Having to one day face Jesus and tell Him I doubted. “I doubted that you could or would use me in a powerful way, so I hid myself behind the fig leaf I named humility.”
I can call my fig leaf by whatever name I want, but it's still just doubt. I embroidered mine with a hefty measure of fear as well. I'm just a humble Christian. I'm nothing special. Why should I think I have anything of significance to offer? Who am I to do bold things for the Kingdom? What if I lose all my friends because of this? Both of them!
In his book, Eldredge goes on to say, “Not only does doubt make you fit comfortably within the culture, but it also excuses you from having to act.”
It excuses me from sharing my thoughts—my heart—with people who might not only judge but reject me. It excuses me from exposing my feelings to those who might hurt them. It excuses me from having to defend my beliefs to those who don’t share them, thus avoiding uncomfortable arguments and disagreements.
Dare I say, it excuses me from the possible embarrassment of getting it wrong from time to time?
But what it won’t excuse me from is one day kneeling before my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and having to say "Yes, Lord, you gave me the opportunity to do more, but I doubted. The risk was too great." By the way, God always sees through our fig leaves.
I have been given a unique opportunity to share God’s love through the medium of cyberspace, but I hesitate because I doubt He will use me, equip me, be with me. It's like I received an invitation from God to be part of His team in a special role, but at any moment I expect Him to realize His mistake and say, "Oh wait, that invitation wasn't for you, you silly girl. It was supposed to go to your much smarter and more eloquent neighbor across the street. Sorry for the mix up." He smiles sheepishly as He slides the crisp white envelope from between my grasping fingers and turns to give it to it's rightful owner.
That doesn't sound like something God would do, so if I'm holding the invitation in my hand , why do I hesitate?
I can ignore, resist or downplay the opportunities through a fig leaf I call humility, but in the end what I'm really saying is "Lord, you weren't worth the risk. I didn't want to get my hopes up because I didn't think you really meant it."
Double ouch. But isn’t that what my lack of action reveals?
It’s too risky.
Is this really you Lord, calling me to you on the water? I can’t walk on water and even if I could the wind and the waves are too strong. The risk is too great. Oh wait, you weren't even talking to me. You meant John, he was the one you called to walk on the water.
Who ever wants to hear Jesus say “You of little faith! Why did you doubt?” (see Mathew 14:22-31)
The first step in taking off my fig leaf of misguided humility is to acknowledge that God has formed me and placed me exactly where and how He wants me. It is no accident or coincidence that I sit here using words to capture thoughts on my computer to share with others.
The second step is moving past doubt. If I believe what I said in step one, then doubt has no place in my thoughts.
So why am I here taking up web space and time? Sometimes I’m not sure, but I no longer doubt that God knows.
A platform is nothing more than a mission field, and our mission field is always the ground between our feet. Or in this case the cyber space beneath my fingers.
Is putting my thoughts on paper, stringing them together with words, and sharing them with the world still nerve-wracking? Absolutely! Sometimes it’s downright terrifying.
But three truths have changed my perspective on platform and given me a reason to rejoice in the possibility rather than resist the opportunity.
I will be sharing these principles in the coming weeks, but until then, I encourage you to consider if there are doubts in your life that are keeping you from acting? What fig leaves are you using to hide your doubts and fears? What would it take for you to let go of those fig leaves and move with confidence in the direction God has called you to go?
Don’t feel alone or beat yourself up. We all have doubts from time to time.
But the way to move past doubts is to examine what it is we truly believe.
Then be brave in seeing where He takes you, because where He takes will be to your unique platform where you are meant to have significance.
Please feel free to leave comments below and tell me how you feel about the topic of platform and what stands in the way of you embracing yours.