Platforms And Purpose

I’ve been thinking a bit about God’s work in and through His people. Of course I apply this to writing, but the illustrations I’m going to share demonstrate my conclusions are not limited to that profession at all. I explain this because “platform” seems like a writing-specific term. No teacher is asked what her platform is. I doubt if plumbers face that question either. Would-be politicians might.

A platform refers to the number of people whose attention an individual commands. The American Idol contestants, for instance, have a small platform until they reach the finals of the contest. Suddenly they have millions of people watching them perform (and remembering their name and voting to keep them around). That’s why the judges so often console someone who is leaving the show — they know the platform that contestant gained, the attention and following, will reap benefits even for the “losers.”

So I’m thinking of two twenty-somethings who each have a book about their life. Who in the world would think someone so young would have a big enough platform to sell books, let alone have something worthwhile to say when they have lived life as an adult for such a short time? And there are two of them?

One of these individuals is Tim Tebow and the other is Katie Davis. Oh, you might think, of course, Tim Tebow (Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker, Harper). He’s a big-name athlete. Make that BIG Name Athlete. I saw it again on the news last night after the Denver Broncos scintillating victory in overtime — a news anchor saying that Tim Tebow was The Most Talked About Athlete of the year (the implication was, last year). Not the Cy Young Award winners, not the Heisman Trophy winner, not the NBA MVP. Tim Tebow.

But what about Katie Davis (Kisses From Katie, Katie J. Davis and Beth Clark, Howard Books)? In fact who is Katie Davis? I’ve mentioned her here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction before. She is the young single girl who went to Uganda for a short term mission. She returned to the US and attended college for a semester because she’d promised her parents that’s what she’d do, but then, not yet twenty, she left for Africa again to work with children — the most vulnerable and needy. After starting out teaching, she focused her work on orphans. In fact she has become the foster/adoptive Mom of thirteen girls. She’s also started a ministry (Amazima Ministries) that provides support for poor children so they can attend school and can receive nourishing meals. In addition there’s a program for moms who struggle alone to care for their children.

Katie does not have hundreds of thousands of people watching the way she changes diapers or nurses the latest scrapes or tucks her daughters into bed. Her platform isn’t Tebow-sized. But one look at the pictures of her children, and there’s no doubt that she’s serving a purpose that is eternal.

Tim’s platform, interestingly, allows him to participate in eternal purposes, too. This missionary kid has a heart for missions still and has also started his own ministry — The Tim Tebow Foundation “to bring physical and spiritual healing to the world’s poorest children.”

What do I learn from these two young committed Christians? So much. They are both inspiring in their own ways. But beyond that, I see God doing marvelous things, with Katie’s thousands and Tim’s ten thousands. The size of the platform does not dictate the value of the ministry or reduce the importance of the purpose God has given to each of them.

I feel as if Tim is oblivious to the numbers of people following him, talking about him, and Katie, when she mentions the growth of the attention she’s receiving, it’s with fear and trepidation. Instead of focusing on the size of their platform, it seems both of them are riveted on their purpose — to please Jesus — and they then let Him decide just how big their platform should be.

Published in: on January 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm  Comments (8)  
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