Recently this year, I had been re-evaluating what impact I’m having in the lives of other people, especially here on the ground in Peru where I’m a “missionary”. I’ve often struggled with the tension of waiting for things to happen in God’s time for my life versus striving and trying to bring some things to fruition and open some doors that may not truly be open yet.
I sometimes wind up comparing myself to others here and asking God why He’s doing something in their lives that He hasn’t been doing–or doesn’t appear to be doing–in my life. But this actually stems from insecurity and not from security in my identity and calling.
This pattern again repeated itself in my mind and heart when I ran into a 19-year-old gringo I know (gringo is the word latinos use basically for foreigners, particularly westerners), and I got talking to this fellow a bit. He has been living here a while and is very friendly, warm and I have nothing negative to say about him. I actually really like him and enjoy our encounters, but I don’t keep that much in touch with him. The last time we spoke, he mentioned that He’s preaching every Sunday in a small church here.
I congratulated him but walked away thinking. . . I don’t preach somewhere *every* week, but only from time to time. And not in the same places. I went through some inner dialogue with the Lord and felt like He wasn’t answering me. I was getting a bit impatient, to say the least.
In other words, I was reminding the Lord that I don’t butcher Scriptures like some other charismatics I know, I have been to Bible School, I’m more seasoned, older, and more mature, and all these other things I secretly was thinking about myself.
So. . . why is this 19-year-old getting more opportunity than I am?
Your Niche Or Someone Else’s?
It was then I sensed the Lord get to the heart of the matter and ask me something.
“Steve, do you want to speak to 30 people per week, the same people week in and week out, who are happy to have any gringo speaking to them, and who will find another one when you leave Or would you like to speak to exponentially more people than that perpetually, and have the things you teach continue to impact people long after you’ve taught them?”
When I sensed Him putting it like that, I immediately knew what my answer was:
I’ll take the internet, hands down.
I’ll keep blogging and podcasting for the masses.
Then, alongside that in “real life” whether in private or on the mission field, I’ll think smaller and pour myself into a few guys so as to make them effective ministers of the Gospel who will also multiply themselves into others who do the same.
That said, I’m not going to talk about discipleship in this post like I do often on my blog. However, along those lines, I’ve been trying to think more about the long-term impact of my life in the whole grand scheme of things, instead of the day-to-day busyness some of us fall into. If I want to focus and position my life for long-term results instead of being busy now, then yes, podcasting and blogging is the way to go.
As I’ve mentioned previously, this is why I harp on pastors I know personally to build a website or publish their sermons onto an RSS feed and create their own podcasts.
You Can Communicate More in a Short Span of Time
To detour for just one moment, I should mention I’ve recently been reading The 4 Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss. In it, Ferriss shares a lot of tips and tricks for how to maximize your time, so that you can free up other periods of time in your life. “Lifestyle design” is the phrase he coins in the book. I’ve been designing my life, too–albeit without as much of the money yet–in such a way that I can do what I feel God has called me to do down here.
I wrote this post on being a “missionpreneur” before I had started reading this book, but as you can see if you go back to it, this is a natural progression into my faith journey (no, the book is not written by a Christian, as far as I’m aware). I’m not getting any kind of royalty for promoting his book, so you know, other than my Amazon affiliate above if you buy it there. I simply see how much the principles he teaches in it are lining up almost precisely with the time management skills I’m learning with effectiveness.
Why am I relating this to podcasting?
Think of all the time and energy that goes into event planning, and sermon preparation for the average pastor. Many churches in the western world record the messages, broadcast them on the internet, and so this point is not necessarily of great import to many pastors and leaders out there. Since success has been defined by so many as having a large church, large congregation, and basically, numbers of followers, and not necessarily effectiveness in making disciples, recording podcasts and using the internet is a way that the playing field gets leveled.
Oh sure, there are lots of people out there who believe if 1000 people are sitting under their teaching for one hour every Sunday, that they are “making disciples” when that’s just not true. If you shrink or increase the number, one-way flow of information one hour per week still does not a disciple make. And by the way, with the amount of listeners to the Fire On Your Head Podcast, I’d never dare say “look how many disciples I have”, so why on earth is this acceptable if we change “podcasting my teachings/discussions on the internet” with “standing in front of a pulpit in front of actual people?”
So that being said, with the age we live in and the internet making anything anybody has to say readily-available to anybody else who wants to hear or read it, I think there’s no greater time to create a platform of your own, without the “pulpit.” For more on using a podcast to build your own platform, check out Michael Hyatt’s recent blog post about 4 Reasons You Should Consider Launching Your Own Podcast.
Stage fright? No Problem!
I’ve always enjoyed speaking in front of people. That’s never really been an issue. But however, I resonate with something the Art Katz said about how he dies a thousand deaths every time he’s going to share the word of God.
I too have always struggled and prayed a lot and just concerned myself with making sure what I say is accurate and true to the best of my understanding. The writer of Hebrews says teachers will be judged more strictly. As a result, I noticed the larger the public setting, the more intimidated I’ve gotten about sharing the Scriptures with crowds.
I used to confuse this with stage fright, but it turns out I’m more of a teacher than a preacher. I need give-and-take. I need dialogue, I don’t know just like giving some kind of anointed and polished monologue waxing eloquent about my knowledge of Scriptures. I’m not saying this is what others do when I know they are gifted communicators. However, I personally thrive on not knowing exactly how what it is I’ve got prepared will turn out. Sitting down with others and having a topic in mind and few notes is a brilliant way for the Holy Spirit to flow through me. I feel I’m more effective in my communicating in this method than I am from a pulpit, even if I get to minister to people and lay hands on them.
I’ve now come to realize that it was not in fact fear of public speaking, but a realization that I don’t fit my groove or hit my stride in that context like I do if I had a radio show to interact and share through.
I will continue to podcast, obviously, since that’s one of my best tools in terms of quantitative reach, along with blogging, for spreading my ideas and insights into God’s word and making an impact for the kingdom of God.
Recently I viewed my statistics and in the previous 7 days, my podcast had received over 1500 hits, 600 of which were in just one day. I’ve had weeks where I’ve seen it peak as high as 1800 hits. This is low if you compare me to the big dogs. However, both figures, even the conservative of the two are a lot more than how many people I have access to individually when doing Bible studies or any preaching I’ve done when counting everybody present for each meeting.
Online ministry, in my personal opinion, is not the same thing as making disciples, let me be clear again. But this platform, podcasting in particular, has helped me reach significantly more people than I can “on the ground” or “in real life”.
If you struggle with public speaking, but you burn with stuff you need to get out of your system, burning in your bones like a fire, then try recording yourself and putting the mp3s online. I guarantee you you won’t regret it or feel it’s a waste of time.
I know I don’t.