"If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones." – Jesus, Luke 16:10 NLT

"'So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus' . . . So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias." – Acts 1:21, 23

The year 2017 has been nothing short of life-changing. Becoming a student in the Leadership Experience program at Churchome, making lifelong friends, learning from leaders and pastors with whom I thought I would never be friends, and getting involved in and falling in love with kids and youth ministries are just some of the countless more highlights of my 2017. And they don't even begin to encompass the magnitude of the impact that this past year has on the rest of my life.

I don't know what it is with human beings, but we like to compartmentalize our lives in time frames. In college, we plan our lives by the quarter or semester; financially, organizations plan their budgets by the fiscal year; not to mention the worldwide phenomenon called new year's resolutions. I am by no means saying that this is a bad thing. In fact, this makes life more organized and goals more achievable. But let's be real: most of our so-called new year's resolutions are very rarely achieved. So upon thinking how to better frame the question of what my new year's resolutions or goals are, I simply came up with: what is one thing you'd like to do more of, and one thing you'd like to do less of in 2018?

Asking and being asked that question prompt me to reflect on 2017 and the biggest thing I learned in those 365 days. And that is redefining the word platform. Let me explain. Growing up in church, I've always thought that the ultimate goal is being on the main stage and either preach, sing, or play an instrument to and for the congregation. After all, it almost seems like that is the easiest way to influence a large group of people at one time. So going into the leadership program of which I am now a part, my goal was to get on the main stage and preach or play music. That was how I defined the word platform.

But chasing after a platform as I used to define it is exhausting, and often results in nothing. Unless, of course, that is part of your calling (in which case, please, by all means, pursue after it!) But for the rest of us, it's forcing to open your own doors instead of leisurely walking through the doors that Jesus opens for you. It's like that one time Sarah asked Abraham to sleep with their servant, Hagar, to expedite the promise that God had spoken to Abraham regarding his being the father of countless children and nations, only to have an angel say to Hagar that Ishmael will be so wild and hostile to all his relatives (read Genesis 16 for the complete story). So it can also come at the expense of other people's time, energy, and wellness.

For those of you who don't know, I play drums. I've been fortunate enough to have played at our church's youth camp in the summer, most of the youth services in the past three months, and on main stages at multiple Churchome campuses on Sundays. But it didn't start off this way. I auditioned to join the worship team some time in December of 2016 or January of 2017. In short, I didn't do a great job, so I got scheduled to play in the kids services so I could get practice and repetitions in. My friends who have known me for over a year or two will tell you that I used to strongly dislike children. So doing kids' ministry was the last thing I thought I would ever do. But God has a rather divine and profound sense of humor, so He put me exactly where I thought I didn't want to be. But I figured, since Jesus has so intentionally given me the privilege of leading worship for the children in my community, I would give it all I've got. So for three or four months, I faithfully served every Sunday and slowly learned to spend time and get to know some of the kids. Little did I know I was slowly falling in love with doing it. The idea of using the kids' stage as a stepping stone to hopefully and eventually get me on main stage was slowly leaving my being. I never asked the Worship Pastors if I had gotten skillful enough to join the team, or told people to watch me play in the kids room on any given Sunday to prove to them that I was good enough. I enjoyed the opportunity, learned a lot from the friends and pastors I had made in that room, and simply did it for the fulfillment of my soul.

Summer of 2017 was rather interesting. I got an email from the Worship Coordinator at one of Churchome campuses asking me to play on main stage at that campus. So I called my friend who's on the worship team and aware that I play drums to ask him if he had told anybody to schedule me. He said no, and followed it with something along the lines of, "People notice your faithfulness and hard work, man." Oh, keep in mind that this Worship Coordinator had not seen or heard me play at all. So she took a leap of faith in putting me on schedule for that Sunday. That Sunday was also when I got asked to start playing at youth camp and youth services. Youth camp was when more Worship Coordinators heard me play and started scheduling me to play at their respective campuses. Getting connected with the teams, interns, and pastors at multiple Churchome campuses was how I got to where I am at now: being part of the Worship Department at Churchome as a Leadership Experience student who oversees the worship aspect in the Kids' Ministry at our main campus.

That story was not meant as a way to brag. It simply illustrates how faithfulness in the little things can lead to the opening of unexpected doors that are bigger than anything you could ever imagine. This brings me to Matthias and Justus.

Their names are first found in the book of Acts, when Peter and friends were figuring out what to do after the ascension of Jesus. And when attempting to find a replacement for Judas Iscariot (who at this point of the story had committed suicide due to his regretting having betrayed Jesus), they naturally looked at the two men who had been with them "the entire time [they] were traveling with the Lord Jesus:" Matthias and Justus (New Living Translation, Acts 1.21).

So let me get this straight: these two guys had been traveling with Jesus the whole time with no recognition or mention? Where were they when Jesus and His twelve disciples had the most popular dinner in human history that we now know as The Last Supper? Where were they when Jesus met the woman at the well? Were they just in the background somewhere, observing Jesus and absorbing as much as they could from Him? How could they have spent 3.5 years following Him and stood not being recognized or mentioned until after He was gone?

Maybe Justus and Matthias knew something many of us don't. Maybe they had their priorities straight. Maybe their endurance and faithfulness did not come from what their titles were, or how popular they could be. Maybe they were able to follow Jesus for so long because they knew it was simply about who they were following without caring about what following Him could yield in. They knew fully that Jesus was all that they ever needed and all that mattered.

The rest of the story goes as follows: Matthias got elected to join the remaining eleven disciples, and Justus... well, we don't know what became of him. What's the lesson here? Justus still did not get recognized while Matthias, who by the way spent an equal amount of time following Jesus with him, got to join the big league. Whether or not Justus stopped believing in Jesus when he left that meeting in Acts 1 is rather irrelevant. (That seems very unlikely, anyway, given his having followed Him for so long and learning as much as he could from Him.) Maybe the lesson here is that some of us will never get recognized, with our names printed on some award or our faces broadcasted on the Jumbotron or all over YouTube. Some of us may never get to be on stage in any capacity, shape, or form. And that's OK.

All of us are serving the same God. All of us have the same access to the same Holy Spirit. All of us are equally forgiven. All of us are sinful and undeserving of God's love, but Jesus came and died for, you guessed it, all of us. We are all on the same team, just serving different purposes in achieving the ultimate goal that is bringing Jesus into every corner of this world. So whatever platform each of us has, it's just as important as what the next person has, as it's all from, by, and for God. Maybe that's what the Kingdom economy is about.

Platform is not about position. Platform is about perspective.

So dear friends, what areas in your life is Jesus asking you to be faithful in? What small things, opportunities, and privileges has He so kindly given you? How are you defining your platform?

I hope in 2018, we learn to be more like Matthias and Justus. At least I hope that I can be more faithful and dedicated to each and every single privilege that Jesus has given me, however big or small. I hope we all get over ourselves and our fleshly desires for fame and recognition. And I hope we all get to adjust our perspective and learn to faithfully follow Jesus simply for who He is and not what we can get out of it. I know that this is one area God is working on in my own life.

Published by Spencer Lestiadi