Connecting through Weakness by guest blogger Angie Platt

It is an honor to know people who have stepped and continue to step into their spheres of influence. This week on the Imperfect Influencer Podcast Steph interviewed Angie about influence – the good, the bad and the imperfect. Listen here. You can also join Angie and her family and their fight against child sex trafficking in Thailand. Learn more here

“ We impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses” -Craig Groechel

That quote has stayed with me a really long time.

I heard it when we were doing some leadership development and it just stuck. As someone who hopes to influence my world around me, I stay mindful of this when I am talking with others. Am I blabbing on and on about MY “success” or “life wins”? Or am I being vulnerable and transparent with this person?

I really believe in the power that manifests itself when we share our weaknesses alongside our strengths. This doesn’t mean “over sharing” though I am sure I do that too. What I mean is being mindful of the situation the other person is in and allowing vulnerability to set the tone. Instead of “I have got it together” tone, which we all really know is not the truth. Here’s the deal, after an hour or so talking with someone we already KNOW their strengths, or at least start to identify them. As soon as we think they have “better” strengths or “more meaningful wins” we start to play the “compare-don’t-share” game. We ALL do it. BUT if that person also begins to share some struggles or trials, it fires up the inner monologue. “Well I struggle with that as well, huh would have never guessed she did too. Maybe I could go after my dream or share more or maybe God would use me too.”

It’s this POWERFUL force that we can use to spur one another to influence our world around us.

In staying with the vulnerability thread, a little known fact about me is I hate public speaking. Well, I take that back I have a love/hate for it because I love to inspire and encourage others to do what God has placed in their lives but it ends there. I get a stomach ache; I have vomited and I just get so dang nervous. Every single time I share that, people are floored. They think I am joking, but when they see my serious I’m-not-kidding face they say something like “But you’re so natural” or “ but you are good” or “ Noooo you’re crazy” or my favorite.. “ but you’re so funny” as if that makes it easier to talk in front of people? I stand there and try to convince them that I’m really stressing out just talking about talking in front of people. Thankfully over the years it’s getting a tad better..keeps me humble that’s for sure.

Once when I shared this sheepishly with my friend she said “ but you’re so confident and passionate! It makes me feel I can go after my dreams..scared and all” A LITTLE LOUDER FOR THE BACK ROW?! YES. YES. What is that dream you keep carrying around? You have influence right now in your world. The people around us are looking to be inspired in some way in their lives. Do it afraid. Mic in hand. Palms sweaty. Voice shaking. Just go for it.

To learn more about Angie, her family and her ministry visit their website at www.andgodsaidgo.com.

My Personal Everybody Duck Top Ten Playlist

We revealed in our first ever podcast interview the influence that the Christian rock band Everybody Duck has had on us. In our conversation with former singer/songwriter and current pastor Darin McWatters, he talked about writing songs that seem to be fun or silly and then suddenly pivot to a deeper spiritual meaning. You will encounter some of those moments in these songs, while others are more overt worship songs. I have introduced many friends to the music of Everybody Duck over the past 20 years, but if they are a new band to you, here is my personal list of top 10 tracks. I encourage you to go to everybodyduck.bandcamp.com to check out the rest of their great songs, (even some classic Christian camp/sunday school songs set to the tunes of Nirvana).  

10 – Heatjambled (Still Know How to Groove) – Their “rockiest” track on this album, it is a song that reminds us that life is hard, and that God didn’t promise to make life easy. He did go to great lengths to defeat sin, pain, suffering and death for good so we could be with Him. Let’s keep a proper perspective.

9- Great Affection (Seized by the Power of a Great Affection) – A tip of the hat to a quote from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, this is the title track of their first worship album. It is a song of praise and adoration to our amazing God.

8- 8 – (Still Know How to Groove) – This was actually the first Everybody Duck song that I ever heard. This is where the cassette tape (!) was cued to when I listened to the demo at the Christian Bookstore. This song takes us to young Joey’s birthday party and from there takes an unexpected and poignant twist.

7- Creation to Creator (Seized by the Power of a Great Affection) – Another entry from their first worship album, I really connect with this song as a reminder that we are created in His image and for His purposes. And one of those purposes is to recognize that we are His creation and worship Him for this reason.

6- Forgettable – (8 Seconds on a Holy Cow) – A reminder that this life and the things that we do are not about us or our fame at all, rather, our life is to be lived to carry out God’s purpose in our world. Darin talked about this song in our conversation with him, when he spoke of redeeming the otherwise goofy name of the band, “Taking stand after stand and not learning to duck, and fall flat on our faces so Jesus can save…”

5- Get in the Plate (8 Seconds on a Holy Cow) – This track is a challenge to us to remember that our tithes and offerings include more than just our money. I believe this song hits the nail on the head about what it is that God is asking of us. “death to self is what the Gospel is demanding (…) get in the plate and ride”

4- Hope – (Everybody Duck) – Feelings of not belonging? That kind of sums up my teenage years. And while my life in retrospect was relatively pain free, it didn’t seem like it in the midst of it. The emptiness and sadness that I felt was largely because I didn’t have a true relationship with God and so I held onto the loneliness and out-of-place feelings because I didn’t know what else to do with them. This song reminded me that there is hope in the midst of hurt and pain.

3- Use me Here – (Seized by the Power of a Great Affection) – The song that really ties into the heart of the Imperfect Influencer Collaborative. This song essentially says “Be who you are, where you are, and influence your world”. God has placed us where we are for a purpose. Things may not have worked out as we hoped, dreamed or planned, but He is still with us and has plans for us wherever we are.

2- Tetelestai – (Everybody Duck) – Like Hope earlier, Tetelestai connected with me in a similar way. It really talks about a lot of the things that I thought when I looked at my life. It is a strong reminder that the value that others place on us is not important at all compared to the value that God places on us. Jesus accomplished His mission to save us on the cross (Tetelestai means “It is finished”). This song gives great perspective on our true value!

1- Close – (8 Seconds on a Holy Cow) – One of my favorite things in the whole world to do is to tell Bible Stories, especially to kids, but really, to anyone. And I like to dig into the stories  beyond the words on the page, and imagine the scenarios and settings in which these accounts occured. This song is great – almost nine and a half minutes retelling the story of the woman with the issue of blood (found in Matthew 9, Mark 5 and Luke 8). And again, a poignant lesson at the end that challenges me every time.

I’d love to hear what you think of these songs, and the other ones that you can find in the Everybody Duck library.  Feel free to leave a comment.

 

The Influence Fairy.

I spend more time then I would care to admit on Instagram.

I scroll and scroll and when I see a post that has hundreds of “likes” I have been known to click through to look at the person behind the post. And sometimes my mouth drops open. And I think, how?

How do they have so many followers?

Not because I have a problem with who they are or what they post, I double tapped that picture too. But because I so desperately crave, influence. I want my life to leave a positive mark on this world, but the magic algorithm has me stumped and googling “how do I get followers on Instagram” isn’t helping.

I can often feel like I messed up on my journey of influence. I was ahead of the game back in 2009 with a blog, youtube channel and adopted every social media as it first came out. But life took turns I wasn’t expecting and in order to process and heal I took a very real hiatus from social media. One of the first things I learned as I tried to get back into the game is that Instagram rewards those who they deem popular enough to be influential (10,000 followers or more). My insta response was hopelessness and regret. I also felt like I was back in high school. All the self talk of “not good enough” and “unworthy” and “you will never be able to share your unique story with the world” (I am a bit dramatic) started to play on the merry go round of my mind.

If I am honest, and I am being honest in case you didn’t gather that, I used to think that I would arrive at some plateau where I would be good enough to be considered someone to be listened to. Sometimes it can seem like we are all on social media shouting our truths with nice pictures aching for likes and shares and there is a little fairy with pink wings and a magic wand choosing to grant some of us the wish of going viral where others are not chosen for this particular favor.

Here is the truth that I want us all to grasp. We are all influencers. Instagram granting you “swipe up” status doesn’t make you an influencer. Have 300 likes doesn’t make you an influencer. Being featured on the news doesn’t necessarily equal influence either. Each of us has influence, and we each have the choice every day in how we are or are not going to use that influence.

I think influence is like a seed that we plant and water and prune. The more we plant and water and prune our seeds of influence, the more our influence will grow. Also, we all need to acknowledge that influence does not only happen online. Influence can happen any time we are in a space with other people. Your kids school, the mini van, the dinner table, the grocery story, in the office, at a business lunch, out to eat with your girlfriends, working in a coffee shop – you get the picture.

Friends, whether you have 300 followers or 10,000. Whether you go viral or not. You have influence and as long as you have decided to allow your unique story to be used to serve someone else, your influence will leave a positive impact on this world.

So go-

Be Who You Are, Where You Are And Influence Your World.

Take the wand back from the magic fairy, stop comparing and own your influence. 

 

Potential Over Credentials

Many people have helped form me into the person I am. They have believed in, guided, and influenced me. Challenged me to step out of my comfort zone into scary places where I had to be vulnerable. In these places, I learned a lot about myself,  leadership and following God’s path even if I’d have rather played it safe. One of those influencers was Pastor Perry Hanley.  Today, I see lessons he taught me and how they influenced me and how I  interact with and influence others.

Perry would often come into the Christian bookstore where his wife and I worked to pick up things for the church that he pastored nearby. One day he stopped by my workspace and asked me if I would be interested in applying for the children’s ministry position at his church. This conversation started me on the course that has led me to where I am today and along the path God was laying out for me. Perry used to say that given our history, it was amazing that he even had this conversation with me at all.  You see, the first time I met Perry was the very definition of awkward. His church at the time was partnered with mine for a mission experience. He and his wife stayed at my house and quickly we learned that my oldest brother’s girlfriend (now wife) was Perry’s ex-girlfriend. I was not very tactful at the time, and when I learned of this connection, I believe my words to him were “Oh! You’re THAT Perry!”

In spite of that he did have that conversation with me and we worked together for over a year. During that time, he would challenge me to do some things that I had never dreamed of doing.  Like prepare a sermon and preach it – from the stage – on a Sunday Morning – in front of everyone.  He had me licensed as a lay minister. He encouraged and supported me when I dropped out of college to pursue ministry full time, resulting in me becoming a missionary. I had some bumps along the way; ineffective youth group lessons, holes in the wall caused by the middle school youth group, and other things that could have discouraged me from continuing. Each time, there was Perry, encouraging me, laughing with me, going to bat for me and helping me pick myself up, learn from the mistakes and move forward.  About a year later, God led him to another church in another town but these lessons I learned from him in that brief time influenced me.

1-    If God is in it, go with it. Countless times I heard him say something like  “It doesn’t make sense to do this, but God is telling me to, so let’s go”. The first time I heard this was during those early conversations about working with him. He said, it didn’t make sense to relive our awkward history, but I know I am supposed to. I have seen and sensed this same thing many times in my life. When I find myself faced with a choice, and one choice seems safe, and the other a little crazy, God often leads me to the less safe choice. I ask myself – do I really have the strength to go against God? The answer is no.

2-    Perfection not required – Pastor Perry was a great mentor, mostly because he was not perfect. He wore his imperfection plainly and it showed in him as humility that was easy to follow. Perry did not seem prideful. Instead, he believed that God doesn’t need our ability but rather our availability. Being ready to follow God wherever He leads, even if it makes us vulnerable, is okay – in fact, it is beneficial.

3-    Potential over Credentials – I believe that the most important thing I can do for someone is to show them that I value them. Pastor Perry taught me this. He really valued others. He saw their potential ahead of their credentials. He saw in me a raw product that God could use him to refine and he accepted the challenge. And not just once, but constantly in our relationship, he would identify potential, call it out, challenge it to blossom, give it a place to grow and cheer it on along the way. Perry taught me that it isn’t our credentials that make us fit to take on a task; it is the potential God has equipped us with. I carry this lesson with me in my own leadership experiences.

I am from a small town in a small province in Eastern Canada. The church that Pastor Perry led was not a mega church, no one was knocking down our doors for a reality TV show. It was messy and it was imperfect. In all that Perry led in a way that has influenced me greatly and because of that his influence is multiplied.

Perry, thanks for stepping out and following God, for seeing my potential and choosing to believe in me in spite of my many imperfections.

Humble Confidence // Judy B.

The other day I was having lunch with my mom after she had returned from a youth missions trip. She was showing me some pictures and pointed to one of their trip leaders. “She is 19” she said passively describing this girl. 19. So young. And then I thought I was barely 20 the summer I met Judy B.

It was Spring of 2005 and Chris and I had only just been married that December. Newlyweds and living as missionaries in Ukraine there was some major internal changes going on in the organization that we were a part of. The only base that stayed in tact during the upheaval was the Ukraine base where we were teaching English, visiting an orphanage bi-weekly and doing sports outreach to men and boys. Because of the upheaval the other missions bases were left without leadership. Chris and I had met in Bahamas and served there the summer before while we were engaged and so, because of this experience, we were asked to go lead the base on Grand Bahama Island for the summer. Of course, we said yes.

That summer I turned 20 in the Bahamas. I had been married 4 months. We were in charge of leading a staff of anywhere from 6-8 people. We planned outreach activities and work projects for 16 teams. We grocery shopped and cooked and cleaned and did laundry. Many of the contacts that the organization had worked with before on the Island had gone with the previous leaders of the base so we started from scratch with church, pastor and outreach connections.

What I remember most about that summer is being terrified every day. I would open my eyes and think, “I just have to make it to the end of the day and I can go back to bed.” The pressure was so much and daily we were pushed out of our comfort zones and into the faith zone.

Enter Judy B. A little more than a month into our time in Bahamas our Director told us that we were getting a volunteer. One that had years of experience with missions and leading, was a personal friend of our Director and 20+ years my Senior. Also, she needed her own room. Now if you know anything about missions, when you come to serve for a summer you room with other people. Our room situation was limited especially with the number of teams we had coming in that summer. So there we were preparing for the volunteer who was our Boss’s friend and who requested (demanded?) her own room. To say we weren’t excited for her arrival, would be an understatement.

My many insecurities drove my fear of Judy and if we are going to be honest, my judgement of her. But boy was I wrong. Judy was that summer and has continued to be one of my biggest cheer leaders, an example of trusting in God and seeking him in prayer. Even now when we have lunch, 13 years later, she brags about how I was her boss. Judy went on to lead with us the next summer in New Orleans as we did hurricane Katrina relief work and has continued to be a dear friend.

At the end of that summer as we prayed as a team and looked back at all God had done I was overwhelmed by how he had provided. He provided every single day for all of our needs and we had not only survived our summer, we had thrived. That night Judy B. led us in “Our God is an awesome God” and I cried happy tears to know how awesome God is and to realize how us stepping out in so much faith, even imperfectly, was rewarded by the privilege of seeing him work.

Judy B’s tendency to quote the Bible, break out in praise songs, say a prayer like I grab a cup of coffee, encourage, respect and lift Chris and I up like we were seasoned professionals has influenced my life greatly. She has chosen to be who she is, wherever God has asked he to go, and I am forever grateful for her friendship and example in my life.

Hey Juds, when I met you I was a scared, insecure 20 year old desperately desiring to see God work in my life and the lives around me. I am so thankful that God chose to intersect our paths, the way you have lived your life has rubbed off on me . Thanks for choosing influence. Thanks for being  you, confidently, so I could learn to be me too.