Building my platform and vainglory

Platform by Michael HyattOne of the blogs I regularly read is Michael Hyatt’s. He regularly writes insightful stuff on a number of issues that are important or of interest to me; running, writing, technology, leadership, publishing, faith are all there from time to time.

As a former CEO of one of the world’s biggest Christian publishers, writer of one of the most read blogs and having written recently a best-selling book, Hyatt knows a thing or two about building a platform (basically getting yourself noticed, read, followed or whatever). You can find some pretty useful tips here that will (over time) build your readership and following, increase sales etc…

I might do some of them but I’m wary. Only the first one, ‘generate content worth reading’ is golden and one we should all aspire to. My concerns start with blogging, because that’s what I do, but extend to most forms of social media and particularly Twitter and Facebook and even to how we promote speakers at conferences.

Philippians 2:3 says, ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition’ or the in the King James the wonderful word of ‘vainglory’. Now if I’m an author I want people to read my books, if I’m a conference speaker I want people to show up, if I’m a blogger I want people to read it (it’s not just a personal diary let’s be honest), if I’m a church leader I mostly want more people at my meetings.

The problem is that often the lines between glory for Christ and glory for me get a little blurry. When my stats go shooting up I get a buzz and I’m looking to see if I can repeat the feat (sadly this usually involves blogging on a controversy). When the numbers go I up I say ‘praise the Lord’ but I feel validated and pleased if people notice what I’m doing, particularly if you get praise from a ‘name.’

I wrestle with invitations to speak in other places because I’m wary that in my heart the ambition to do so, is not always the ambition of an advancing kingdom but of greater renown not for Christ but for me. In other words selfish ambition and that, is vainglory.

There are a few ways to avoid this but still to write books and blogs, lead churches and so on. Firstly, be careful how we promote ourselves and to make sure the word ‘no’ is in the vocabulary. Allowing others in on the decision-making process is helpful, giving you a chance to reflect on what’s happening in your heart. I spotted this when I felt the resentment rise up when an opportunity was being questioned by others, ‘who were they to stop me from doing this things?’ Not healthy.

So, I want to write things that people find helpful, interesting, worth engaging with (and if I’m not then you can tell me) and I’m pleased when it finds a larger than normal audience. However I’m not sure I want to go out of my way, to expend my energies on building the twitter following count, growing my Facebook friends, having a bigger subscriber list because I know that ambition is in me but I’d rather trust that to God to raise me up or keep me hidden, and if He gives He can also take away. Neither of those should affect my ambition or sense of security for it was never in my platform to begin with.

2 Comments

Good stuff Phil!  I’m entirely with you. God will decide and raise your profile as He wishes.  However, I find social media is a useful form of inspiration which we, in turn, may be able to use to inspire.
I therefore have little difficulty in separating the use of social media for ‘platform building’ from that of passing messages of encouragement – or, more often, saying nothing until there is something to say. God will build the platform for us by what He gives us to say. Thus our followers will be His followers which is, after all, our role.

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