Monday, July 16, 2012

Encouragement

Last week, I participated in an online forum at InternetMonk about Christian bloggers. In it, I stated that my biggest struggle was in trying to understand my role in what I write.

In general, I am a guy who talks about a radical grace, one in which we are in agreement on essential theology but give wide latitude in the non-essentials. This in turn means that I am, generally speaking, not all that controversial. Further, I come to my blog to write and share, but have never really gone through the trouble of advertising myself or my blog, or trying to "push" it into the blogosphere.

My struggle arises when I try to determine if my blog is "push" or "pull", so to speak: should I be pushing it for more noteriety or letting people pull from it as they see fit? Most articles you read would argue that if I wish to separate my blog from the noise of the Internet and have a widespread impact, I have to be a "pusher": I should be releasing my blog posts only at certain times of day, write about controversial subjects to incite heavy commenting and page refreshes, participate in other Christian blogs as a frequent commenter with my blog address as a signature, advertise on Facebook, etc.

(Note: I am not saying these things are wrong, not at all. They might be right for you, or they might be right for me in some small doses. I just have never seen that "push" approach as being part of my personality or identity.)

The problem is that this just has never felt like me. It just feels like an exhausting task. But is this me being selfish, and just writing for "me" (and God)? Am I supposed to be pushing it out to the crowd to make a larger voice for myself, or should I just stay true to me and write what I feel moved to write, and let the readership be what it will naturally be?

Well, God has sent me a series of blessing-filled encouragements this last week, three of which in particular I wish to share.

First, responding to that post, a regular reader named Kyle gave some very encouraging words that help me remember that my blog is, in fact, having an impact on others. It is not merely a selfish, glory-filled desire to see my thoughts on the nets. Thank you very much, Kyle; that was extremely encouraging.

Second, in the process of preparing this week's lesson for our youth group (in which I will discuss dealing with stress through living by grace rather than the Law), I found myself teaching to myself. I hate when that happens. As I will be saying to the youth, living by grace means that I do what God called me to do to the best of my abilities and skills, and let God handle the "increase" or the impact. As John Ortberg says, it means becoming "You-ier"; as such, I should continue to just be me, and that is not a person who trolls other sites or flouts his own name/blog to others or pushes advertising or writes about controversy.

Third (in case I had missed the message so far), our sermon this week by pastor Steve B. also spoke to me. We have been studying Nehemiah the past few months and are in Nehemiah 11. Steve talked about how God's work is often done somewhat in anonymity and we often do not see the results in the way that the world programs us to expect to see them. For every famous missionary Christian changing the world, for every pastor standing up on Sunday morning, there are a hundred "anonymous" Christians helping make it happen, and their work is no less valuable to God.

The way Steve said it was brilliant:

"The gifts that God has given you will make you valuable, not necessarily famous. ...Our final reward is based on faithfulness, not fame."


I have gotten the message, loud and clear. Thank God for men like Kyle and Steve, whose words have been a real encouragement this week.

4 comments:

  1. I struggled with this same thing in my blog about a year ago as people started contacted me to advertise on my blog. And in the end, I found that in just being me, my blog reached exactly who it was supposed to reach. though I don't always comment on your blog, your posts always make me think..which I love.

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    1. Sara, thanks so much. You are always such an encouragement to me, I really appreciate it. What you are describing is pretty much dead on to where I am at. I should have come and talked to you to start with and I could have saved myself some indecision! :)

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  2. Glad I could contribute something! As far as blog promotion goes, I don't think there's anything wrong with plugging your own blog in comments, etc. on other sites if it's something related to what you've written before. Some people can be gratuitous about it but that doesn't need to be the case.

    This might be an odd question, but what is your church's website? I enjoy my Japanese-language church in Japan but I'm always looking for good, gospel-centered preaching to get me through the week, and I figure if you choose to go to church there, your pastor(s) probably have some good things to say.

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    1. Kyle,

      I'm glad that you said this - my wife actually suggested that I need to clarify what I said before because you're dead on: I'm not saying that it is wrong to plug your blog, just that it is not "me" to go out and do it gratuitously or push it really hard. I certainly didn't want to seem as though I was saying it wasn't right for others to do so.

      Yes, Grace Church (www.gracelr.com) has a great teaching team. The sermon audio is at (http://gracelr.com/podcast.html). The style is generally exegetical going through books of the Bible; so for example we have been going through Nehemiah since April. Hope you enjoy it!

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