When my daughter was two, my husband and I took her to a pool where a lifeguard was seated on a tall, tall chair. My daughter tipped up her little chin, gazed at the lifeguard, then said, “That’s the king, isn’t it Daddy?” She had mistakenly assumed that—like in her picture books—anyone positioned on an elevated chair or platform was a king.
Sometimes as adults, we make the same mistake. We assign more status and importance to well-known Christians standing on their public “platforms.” For what is the purpose of a platform, if not to elevate the person standing on it? Yet for the follower of Christ, a platform should be the structure from which we serve others, not ourselves. When you and I step onto our God-given platforms, our goal should be to elevate Jesus, not ourselves. Our message should lead others to His story and glory, not our own.
Like a lifeguard ready and able to toss a buoy to someone struggling, or to call out caution to one who needs warning, we position ourselves to serve. We plant our feet in a place where we can most effectively toss out what other people need: the truth about Jesus.
Distributing Life Jackets
Jesus’ self-stated mission was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to a world full of people drowning in their sin, and offered Himself as the only way to be saved. And now, as His ambassadors, we get to continue Jesus’ work. We get to pass out life jackets to people who are lost, hurting, weary, and overwhelmed.
With such an important mission, why would we not throw out as many life jackets as possible?
Actually, what often stops us from effectively tossing life jackets is us. We stand in our own way. Sometimes we stop because we think we’re not good enough or equipped for the task. Or maybe we feel paralyzed by fear of rejection. We think, “Nobody wants a life jacket from me. I’m sure they can get one from somebody else. Other people probably have better life jackets to offer. What if I offer a life jacket and it gets rejected?”
We not only doubt ourselves; we doubt our platforms, too. We think, “What do I have to add? My platform is so small, my toes hang off the edge! Even if I tried, I couldn’t make a difference in this ocean of need.” Out of fear, self-consciousness, and a lack of confidence we back away, hoping God will send someone else.
Other times, we can become a bit overconfident in our life jacket tossing. We get so caught up in the excitement and hype of passing out life jackets that we forget the whole point of our mission. Instead of focusing on the vast need or the purpose of the offering, we subconsciously start acting like life jacket models. We think or even say, “Look at me! Look how great I look in my life jacket. Look how good I am at distributing these life-saving devices!” Our platforms can make us feel elevated and important. Soon we may find ourselves thinking, “I like standing up here where everyone can see me. I hope they all notice what a great life jacket model I am!”
Do you see yourself falling into either of these categories? Are you under-confident or overconfident about your role as an influencer? Either way, there is work to do.
Those of us who struggle with under-confidence will need to overcome our sheepish self-consciousness and find the courage to bravely step onto our platforms. Those of us who have become overconfident must learn to guard against showy self-focus and stop acting like life jacket models. Perhaps some of us struggle both ways. We vacillate between wanting to hide under a rock and secretly longing to be a rock star.
The key to finding balance isn’t learning to keep our feet in the middle of the pier, but rather in lifting our eyes, scanning the waves, and keeping watch for victims who are drowning. As we lift our gaze—either from our toes or our stats—and refocus on a world full of people who need the hope of Christ, our mission as influencers becomes clear: We are meant to step up onto the platform God has placed beneath our feet so that we can serve others, not ourselves.
Question: Is your biggest struggle in ministry under-confidence or overconfidence? What helps you deal with that balance?
This excerpt was taken from “Influence: Building a Platform That Elevates Jesus (Not Me)” by Kate Motaung and Shannon Popkin.
About Shannon Popkin
Shannon’s book, titled Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus (Not Me), written with co-author Kate Motaung is designed to help you think about how to gather followers of Jesus and change the world—but not in the way the world says to. From the platform and page, Shannon Popkin invites you to open your Bible, drink deeply of God’s story, and live like it’s true. Shannon is from West Michigan and is happy to share life with Ken, who makes her laugh daily. Her books include Comparison Girl, Control Girl, and Influence, and she hosts the “Live Like It’s True” podcast. Shannon has been featured on Family Life Today, Revive Our Hearts, and Proverbs 31. Connect with Shannon at www.shannonpopkin.com.