Can platform building hold hands with Christianity – by Kate Motaung

on May 18, 2016 in Blog | 15 comments

“You need to have a platform.”

Dip your toe into the publishing world, and it won’t be long before your foot feels the splash of these words. Even authors with top-notch manuscripts are being turned down because they don’t It's all abouthave enough e-mail subscribers or social media followers.

While I understand the need for platforms for marketing and publicity, a question still rises in my mind: Can self-promotion mesh with Christianity?

How can we, as Christians, exalt ourselves in good conscience when the One who “made himself nothing” calls us to humble ourselves?

As I seek to build a platform for my writing, I should be asking the same questions as Paul in Galatians 1:10 – “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I, for one, have gotten sucked in by the desire for acknowledgement. I’ve gawked with starry eyes at the Christian authors with strong influence. I’ve granted permission for admiration to dance with envy. I’ve allowed respect to hold hands with jealousy.

 Deep down, most of us want to be known. But at what cost? And by whom? And why?

This whole ‘platform building’ thing reminds me of the people in Genesis, who were tempted to rise to the top, to show off their accomplishments, to paint their name in the sky, to gain glory for themselves. They built the Tower of Babel to demonstrate their ability, and what did God do?  He frustrated their language.

With a reverent and holy fear, I should stand back and recognize that God could very well do the same thing to me. If my writing is motivated by pride or a desire to promote myself, God would do well to frustrate my language.

As Christians, the Bible says we are the light of the world. God even tells us to let our light shine. But why? And how? So that we can be seen?

Jesus says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

 It’s all about the glory of God.

A lamp is not lit for its own sake. Its light shines for the sake of others.

How can we take the lamp we’ve been given and turn its light onto Christ, the only deserving recipient?

How do we reconcile “make yourself nothing” with “let your light shine”?

 God gives each of His children gifts, and He gives them for a reason. He wants us to use them, not stash them away or hide them. Yet the purpose is the same as the light He gives – each gift is meant for His glory.

So how can we, as Christian writers, seek to magnify Christ through our writing gifts? How do we build a platform that will elevate Jesus above ourselves?

We love to hear what you have to say. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Kate MKate Motaung is author of the e-book, Letters to Grief, hosts the Five Minute Friday blog link-up, and writes at Heading Home. Her memoir will be released by Discovery House in 2017.

    15 Comments

  1. Kate, thank you for sharing this today! It’s a fine line, isn’t it, self-promotion and putting out work for God’s glory. It can easily get muddied. I’ve found that it helps for me to think less of selling a product (or selling myself) and think more about all the platform business as more of relationship building. How can I serve my readers? What can I do to encourage. While I don’t succeed in this mindset, it has proven a good place to recenter. It helps me remember to align myself to God’s purpose for my writing.

    SusieFinkbeiner

    May 18, 2016

    • From what I’ve seen, Susie, I think you do a fantastic job building relationships online and with your readers. That is a real gift! Thanks for your thoughts. Keep up the great work, for His glory!

      Kate Motaung

      May 18, 2016

  2. here are some balancing Scriptures to think about…yes, we can always become prideful and arrogant. it is a constant struggle whether we are trying to develop an online presence or not. these verses are ones that aren’t discussed as much and often need to be: I Corinthians 11:1-Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

    II thessalonians 3:9-12-It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

    Hebrews 13:5-8- Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,

    “The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
    what can man do to me?”
    7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

    these are just a few ways imitate is used. on our blogs, we are often sharing ways others are to imitate our example or the example of people we are telling them about. I think it is very helpful to tell them about ordinary people. it is easy for us look at “stars” and think they have a great story, but the christian life doesn’t work for me, an ordinary christian. the more we show that #1, none of us are ordinary and #2, no matter how ordinary and mundane our lives seem to be, Christ is present and able to bring life to it. that’s what blogging shows to people, doesn’t it? we are supposed to be showing our ordinary lives not pretending about what superwomen we are!

    martha

    martha brady

    May 18, 2016

    • Great thoughts, Martha — and very helpful Scriptures! Thanks so much for taking the time to share and give these insights!

      Kate Motaung

      May 18, 2016

  3. Oh Kate, this is a really interesting question. When I was wrestling with self/agent-publication I read this in Isaiah 42 (The Message): “I don’t franchise my glory,
    don’t endorse the no-god idols.” and this: “He won’t call attention to what he does
    with loud speeches or gaudy parades.
    He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt
    and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant,
    but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.”

    I must admit I’ve struggled with similar things as you though…I only just wrote about it on my blog…but from the perspective of a self-published author with a tiny “platform”. The “professional” authors made me feel like a fraud…but I realized that this was due to me believing lies spoken over me as a child. As I returned to God’s Word I read and reflected on these truths among others:

    “John 15:16 “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit…”

    TRUTH: He has called me to walk in this path. He has poured out His Love into my book and I am called to release it, so it may produce lasting fruit in the lives of those who read it.

    Romans 12:6 “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well….”

    TRUTH: God has given me the gift of writing. He has given me the ability to do it well, an ability I am not called to hide, but to release into the world for His Glory.”

    And so now I’ll be returning from my break from Facebook and Twitter in a week’s time with a renewed confidence…not fearful to share of the book God has gifted me to release into the world and to ask for help promoting it. I can look at other authors and see myself as part of God’s beautiful tapestry of love, linking hands with them to shine God’s Light.

    Don’t know if this helps with your search for answers?

    Anna Smit

    May 18, 2016

    • Amen! Thank you for chipping in, Anna! I so appreciate your perspective. I hope your break from social media was refreshing and restorative. 🙂

      Kate Motaung

      May 18, 2016

  4. We were created to lift each other up–and that should be an important component of ‘platform building.’ I’m trying to share more of what others have to say/write than I do of myself (which is hard, because I came into this platform building thing with a pretty selfish attitude). But there’s something cool that takes place organically as I leave comments, tweet and share on Facebook the good things that others have written. By lifting others up and encouraging them, I get to use my cheerleading skills to encourage others and my stats and numbers start to mean less and less to me. My goals have slowly changed from having a certain number of followers to sharing information that will help those who follow.

    Anita Ojeda

    May 18, 2016

    • Yes, this is such an important component, Anita! I’ve experienced much of the same. So glad you included this aspect. Thanks for sharing!

      Kate Motaung

      May 18, 2016

  5. Even though it’s the Sunday School answer, I suspect the best example is Jesus. Jesus drew a crowd. He had a platform. A pretty big one, actually. Because that is how you spread the gospel: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” (Romans 10:14-15) But Jesus did not promote himself; he promoted the Good News of the gospel. When platform-building becomes “Look at me! Look at me,” that does not hold hands with Christianity. But when platform building is all about “Look at Jesus! Look at Jesus!” then everything falls into place. The last words that Jesus, the ultimate story-teller, said on this earth were to go and preach to all nations. (That’s a lot of people.) So let’s do that!

    Karen

    May 18, 2016

    • Yes! Thank you, Karen. This is a perfect articulation, and exactly what I hope to strive toward — not “Look at me!” but “Look at Jesus!”

      Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts!

      Kate Motaung

      May 19, 2016

  6. Great thoughts! I think of platform-building as part of a business I am trying to build for the glory of God. If I don’t let people know about my (indie published) books, they will never find the message I’m writing into them, because they’ll never see those books in the sea of books on Amazon. That said, I tend to enjoy marketing. But as Anita mentioned, one thing I really love is building other authors up and pointing the spotlight their way as I see opportunities to do so. I love giving shout-outs on FB, Twitter, and Pinterest for gifted authors who are using their abilities for God. I do think if we’re creating from a Christian worldview, our finished products/businesses will point back to God. 🙂

    Heather Day Gilbert

    May 21, 2016

    • Heather, I’ve always thought you balanced this well! You happen to be one of the most encouraging people I know online. I really, really would love to meet you for real for real some time. 🙂

      SusieFinkbeiner

      May 21, 2016

  7. Kate, this is something that has been on my mind A LOT recently. I’ve been asking myself who I’m truly writing for and if I’m writing for Him (as I believe I am), then why am I concerning myself with the number of subscribers I have? Thank you for sharing your insight.

  8. You’re so welcome, Michelle! I’m glad it struck a chord — and I’d definitely venture to say it’s a good thing to be struggling with such questions! Keep up the great work!

    Kate Motaung

    May 27, 2016

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