I am certainly no celebrity. To talk about my platform is not to talk about much. I am a small presence on a small platform on the huge stage of the worldwide web. But…do I want to be a celebrity? That is a legitimate question for someone to ask me in keeping me accountable as to why I have my own website, the exposure of which I am intentionally growing on social media, as I share what I preach and write. Why am I sharing what I preach and write? My preaching and writing have been heard and seen across this country, as well as in other countries. Why do I want that? I hope that thinking through this with me will help you think through your own motivation (or lack of motivation) in stepping up to speak up about God.
Not too long ago, I wrote a piece entitled LISTEN TO YOUR UNIMPRESSIVE PASTOR, in which I expressed my concern about how enamored people in the church have become with celebrity pastors, in essence letting the social ministries of those well-known pastors eclipse the local ministries of their own pastors. However, am I only concerned about this because I am a local pastor whose ministry might be getting eclipsed? Would my concern fade if I myself rose to the status of a celebrity pastor?
Last month a well-known pastor was removed from his lead role in his church for “deep sin patterns”. A list of those patterns was offered in a letter of explanation written by his fellow pastors to their congregation. Ending the list was this pattern: “a history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms”.
“A history of building his identity” - those are convicting words to me because I don’t want to be guilty of that, and I am tempted to do exactly that. I will not whitewash the fact that I am fighting the fleshly impulse to turn a spotlight onto my intellect and abilities - to increase exposure of what I’m capable of. (And, of course, I have to honestly highlight the vanity in thinking that my capabilities should be exposed.) I like the idea of excelling and being recognized for it to the extent that my name is made a brand. And I hate that I do. In my spirit, I despise what I see in my flesh - the vanity I see in my heart - the impulse to build my identity.
Then why am I doing this? Why am I on this small platform of mine, putting myself through this particular battle?
Before I get to my reasons for building this online platform for my ministry, though, let me point this out: The battle with the temptation of self-promotion, to build one’s own identity in ministry, is not isolated to the internet. I face the same temptation in being a local pastor. Every pastor does. The pulpit of a church can be just as much of a platform for self-promotion as a website and social media sites. The only difference is in the scale of exposure. So to abandon an online extension of ministry is not an automatic victory over the temptation to build one’s own identity. We face that temptation on any platform at any level of public exposure. To completely avoid it, we would have to isolate ourselves in absolute obscurity and anonymity, which would not fit Paul’s instruction to Timothy:
So, here are my reasons for setting up my own platform. Right now, I have three of them.
1. A Fire in my Bones
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, in facing much backlash for his ministry, confessed this: “for me the word of the Lord has resulted in reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him [or “mention Him”] or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:8-9 NASB). Even though I have not received Jeremiah’s calling to or cost of prophetic ministry, I can relate to Jeremiah’s burning conviction to preach the Word of God. Ever since God shot the lightning bolt of John 1:1 through my heart to save me, my heart has been ablaze with His Word. And I knew I was called to preach as the fire of conviction to proclaim it spread into my bones. I have never been able to learn anything from God’s Word without the flames of its truth burning hot in my heart, filling my being to my bones with a feverish impulse to channel its blazing truth through any conduit available to me. That leads to my next reason.
2. A Path at my Feet
However I can get God’s Word out, I am going to do it. Whatever means I can use, I am going to use it. I have a passion for the ministry of God’s Word that I primarily focus through my pulpit ministry as a pastor, but not exclusively, because other avenues are available. The internet is a wide-open path at my feet for preaching and teaching God’s Word, so I’m taking it. I have the opportunity to preach and teach God’s Word around the world on the worldwide web, so I’m taking it. And on this path, I trust Him to lead me where He will and to whom He will, down the path of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3).
That brings us to my last reason.
3. A Joy to my Heart
I enjoy maintaining my website and social media accounts. I enjoy creating visually, intellectually, and spiritually engaging posts. To me, it’s a digital craft. Couple that with my joy in ministering God’s Word, and this is a real pleasure for me. I am amazed at the technology at our fingertips, and I enjoy making use of it to advance the saving and sanctifying knowledge of God’s Word. For me, it is a holy hobby, with which I want to produce much fruit for the glory of the Father and my fullness of joy (John 15:8 & 11).
Yes, I could easily use this platform to build my own identity, but, while I recognize the temptation, I also reject the temptation. That’s not what I’m after on here. That is why I named my ministry what I did - THE EXCELLENCIES OF GOD - rather than using my own name. I don’t mean this as a criticism of others that do use their own names, but for me, this is about making a point of putting God front-and-center - His identity before my own. I am exalting God rather than myself. I am proclaiming the excellencies of God for His exalted glory in the exceeding joy of all in Jesus Christ. I get the conviction to do this from the Apostle Peter: “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 NASB). I will take that as far as I can, to as many as I can, for as long as I can, in any way I can. In your own calling from God, I hope you will do the same. To God be the glory!