Local Pair Helps Influencers Find Balance Between Serving God and Building Platform

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

Influence Front CoverTwo local authors, both working on their first books, faced the struggle many authors face: how to build a platform and serve God at the same time. Publishers are quick to say “Your platform isn’t big enough,” but authors, speakers, and ministry leaders can feel squeamish about promoting themselves and their work in order to collect followers on social media, blogs, and websites.

Shannon Popkin, author of “Control Girls: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible” (Kregel), and Kate Motaung, author of “A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging” (Discovery House), faced those struggles like many authors do. They join forces to take a deep look at platform and following Jesus in their new book “Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus (Not Me),” which released in January.

“The tension is that if you want to pursue an agent or book contract or get accepted as a speaker at a conference, you have to already have a following,” said Motaung, host of Five Minute Friday, an online community for Christian writers. “But as Christians called to elevate Christ and humble ourselves, how can we be true to our convictions yet put ourselves out there?”

The pair began formulating their ideas when they were asked to present on the topic in 2017, along with writer Ann Kroeker, at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference held annually in Grand Rapids.

“Shannon and I realized we were on the same wavelength and very likeminded from a biblical perspective on the internal tension we face as Christian authors,” said Motaung, who lives in Holland.

“You start out wanting to share truth and pretty soon you are consumed with your numbers, consumed with getting higher numbers for yourself instead of getting more followers for Christ,” said Popkin, who lives in Grandville.

They starting writing in November 2017 and independently published the book earlier this year. It is available on Amazon and at Baker Book House.


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“Some people give up altogether, saying they don’t want to be prideful. They don’t explore their fears or they don’t want to face rejections so they don’t pursue their dreams,” said Motaung. “We want to encourage people to recognize their gifts as coming from God and use their gifts to glorify him. It’s important to pray, seek the Lord’s direction, and be aware of our motives every time we share. God will enable us to have boldness to use the gifts he has given us.”

Popkin and Motaung offer 12 chapters on topics such as fear, strategy, network, focus, and trust, delving deep into Scripture and their writing and publishing experiences. A small group study guide at the end helps readers apply the truths to their own lives.

“We’ve targeted writers and speakers and ministry leaders, but the principles apply to every Christian,” said Popkin. “The book is for anyone who wants to grow their influence in a godly way.”

Adds Motaung, “We hold words that are life-saving and life giving, but when we let fear and insecurity stop us, that’s selfish. If we have something to share that is helpful, why wouldn’t we share that?”

Additional resources are available at www.shannonpopkin.com. Also visit www.katemotaung.com, www.fiveminutefriday.com, and www.breatheconference.com.

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Author Information
Ann Byle
Ann Byle is a freelance writer and owner of AB Writing Services. She writes for a number of publications including WMCN, Publishers Weekly, CBA Christian Market and Grand Rapids Magazine, and is author or coauthor of several books including The Baker Book House Story, The Call to Care: A Compassionate Response to Caring for Vulnerable Children (2018) and Christian Publishing 101 (2018). She and her husband Ray, a science teacher, have four young adult children.

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