On a recent call with some great church planting leaders I explained briefly what I call the two primary voice outlets in leadership:
On Platform and In Person
It really is just like it sounds. We have a voice toward influence from our platforms to many and in person to a few. I argue that our greatest impact is in the latter, but I also argue that our pride tries to convince us it’s the former. We want the platform because we get both the message out and our own fame. That’ not to say the platform is evil or wrong by any means, but it too easily can be.
I call it “Leading from the Shadows”. In-person leadership is that up close and personal gritty relationally messy leadership. On-platform leadership is our speaking to the crowds. It feels good. Just ask anyone who’s done it regularly, here is the real kick in the gut. While it feels awesome unloading our wisdom into masses of humanity, the truth is most people are more likely to move toward major shifts in smaller more intimate contexts. I’ve seen men’s lives changed by a few intimate yet challenging conversation. I have not seen that kind of change “On platform”.
Just recently I was invited to attend a new church plant launching in South Minneapolis. As one of their supporters, it was an honor to attend and see what God was doing with this new but healthy church plant. As my son and I prepared to leave, we were stopped by a young black man and recent friend of mine. After a few pleasantries, he said “You know, I can’t stop thinking about what we talked about in your backyard, and I can’t stop telling people about it. It changed me.” He was referring to a few hour conversation we had in my backyard regarding the Gospel of John. You change people’s worlds “In Person” much more than “On Platform”. Seize those moments! Value those moments!
The fact that we think “On Platform” has a greater impact should be a giveaway that it doesn’t. I think we trust ourselves too much at times. Does lecturing to the crowds impact them? Of course. Just not at the intensity of intimate relationships. Jesus led from the shadows much more than you realize.
Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees
In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
These three verses have flown under the radar being misunderstood and misinterpreted for years. When we read these verses, we think that hypocrisy will be revealed. This is not at all what Jesus, Luke, or Matthew is communicating. Here’s what Jesus says in Matthew’s parallel:
Have No Fear
26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Verse 27 anchors the context. Jesus isn’t saying that hypocrites will be found out, though that could be generally true. Jesus is saying that the Pharisees are continuing with a wrong message from a wrong heart. However, as Jesus says, the right message from the right heart has been whispered to you in inner rooms and shadows, and that message will, as Jesus promises, be shouted from the rooftops and heard by the nations.
For far too long I thought the bigger the platform the greater the influence on people’s lives. I was wrong. Most people will never even have the opportunity to lead On-Platform, but everyone can and should lead In-Person.
Jesus changed the world by leading from the shadows and sent his disciples to do the same.
BY JOSHUA WHETSTINE – NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD CITY MISSIONARY FOR MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL.