When people stand by our grave sites (and there will be far fewer in attendance than we think will be there) people will reflect on an discuss our lives. And they’ll be engaged a bit of an evaluation: Was ours a live well lived? Did our life matter in some way? And, crazy thing, all of the evaluation tools at the end of life of what it means to be ‘great’ are not in the least connected to work.
There has been a lot of talk about ‘platform’ lately among Christian leaders, prompted by Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. (Michael’s book is a helpful read on how to communicate better, with a stronger message, to a larger audience. For those of us who are authors and hear from publishing companies, “Uh, we don’t have any marketing money for your project”, it’s a helpful piece.) This post is not about his book.
Many type-A leaders push, strive, and slog along to be more known and have more impact. But, those goals aren’t what will matter in the end. If we get close enough to inspect the relationships around them, we’ll discover there whether a person was a ‘great’ man or woman – because greatness has little to do with platform. Greatness, as defined in Scripture, is about character, nurture, and discipleship. Those are revealed in relationship with others.
The strongest persons aren’t the ones who stand on stages in front of hundreds or thousands, we are often the most insecure. No, I’m convinced the strongest people are those who can nurture those around them day-in and day-out. They’re like monster trucks in first gear – no mud or deep pit will slow them down. They’re like tractor beams who can lock onto others’ lives and help them find victory over all sorts of issues, problems, and addictions. They are like “a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:3 NIV).
- Seeking a bigger ‘platform’ is just part of work. It’s not who we are, nor does a platform mean we have more value.
- Our platform needs to have a purpose … beyond getting a bigger platform.
- The platform’s message has to point somewhere. For the Christian leader, that ultimately is toward Jesus Christ.
- Someone else will be standing on whatever platform we build, and sooner than we think. And they’ll do it better. Just like we did.
In a chapter for a forthcoming book, I talked about attending a large international conference where 10’s of thousands of people attended. And it was the night of the ‘lifetime achievement award’, the most prestigious award given by this organization. The winner was a legend in the field – author of 16 major books, sought-after speaker, you name it – at 81 years of age, well-deserved.
His name was called, he ascended the stage, received a plaque, gave his acceptance speech, and then came off the platform. All that the platform will give you, if it’s all you live for, is one more applause and then a plaque when you done. And then someone else will come up the stairs.
What matters forever, are the ripples made in the lives of those with whom you share life. So, if you’re desiring something bigger, better, or more well-known, be careful. When you have the ‘platform’ taken away, like I had once before, you are faced with your naked self and all of its imperfections. You see the relationships with those around you and understand where thethirstfor the platform diverted you from living life well.
And, when you stand next to the graveside of a truly great person, as I did recently, you see that the legacy and long-term impact isn’t related to fame (the platform looks a lot like the old push for high school popularity if we aren’t mission or message focused) but rather to the lives of others with whom you’ve lived up close.