Blogging and the “S” Word

woman-typing-computerThis is my 100th post.  Not too shabby an accomplishment for a wearer of many hats!  When I started blogging 1½ years ago, I had three simple goals: I hoped to grow as a writer, to cultivate contentment with my lot in life, and to leave a small, God-exalting imprint on the world.

In case you're wondering, I don't really look like that when I blog.  I look more like this only in pajamas.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t really look like that when I blog. I look more like this only in pajamas.

What I didn’t expect was for blogging to leave an imprint on me.  I thought I would be the teacher, not the student.  But blogging has taught me a lot about myself, about sin and temptation, people and suffering, culture and society.  And ironically, the bulk of the teaching comes from one little button.

For you non-bloggers, there is a button on every blogging dashboard that charts “statistics.”  It tells you how many people are reading your posts, how articles fare with others, which countries view your blog…etc, etc, etc.  I love this button.  It is my pat on the back for hours of work.  It is the just-keep-going-you-ARE-making-an-impact button.  This little button had the power to turn me into a paid writer for the first time in my life.  The statistics went up, and Wordpress offered me a portion of the revenue–enough money to buy a pack of crackers every three months.  Hooray!

I hate this button.  This button reminds me that I am constantly at war with the desire to be God.  To seek worship, to love glory, and to praise myself.  Every time I click on this button, it whispers the question, why are you writing?  This is the button that unearths motives and desires, the condition of my heart.

This button has taught me that people want to read about themselves.  That topics like parenting and marriage are popular, and topics like world hunger and the persecuted church are not.  It’s taught me that painfully vulnerable subjects will be highly viewed, but not highly shared.  That the “perfect” article must address the audience’s felt needs, be provocative, yet feel “safe.”

And so the challenge becomes walking the tightrope.  I am writing to people.  God is passionate about people.  At the end of the day, if my writing doesn’t encourage, comfort, and spur people on, what’s the point?   In this sense, I must pay attention to statistics.  I must understand the felt needs of my audience, or I risk becoming irrelevant in my own culture.

I am writing to people.  But I am writing for God.  Which means the statistics guide, but they must not govern.  I believe this is the only way I can truly be used by God.  He must govern the ship, even if His direction leaves the statistics in the toilet at times.  Because when He leads, He brings another “S” word into the picture: supernatural.  God has the supernatural ability to guide me to write that which will be used for His good purposes in the world.  And unlike statistics, this guidance knows no rhyme or reason.  It is about being in step with the Spirit.  Every time I post an article I pray for God to choose the audience.  Because the truth is, 100,000 people could read an article that bears no lasting fruit in their lives, and 10 people could read an article that changes them for eternity.  With God the statistics are unseen.

Dear reader, this morning as I blog about blogging, I am thinking about you.  I don’t know your story, but can only assume it holds its own share of statistics.  The success (or failure) of your marriage, the money you earn, the growth of your company or church, the private failures no one knows about, the public failures no one can forget.  It can be so tempting to view yourself through the lens of statistics.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in blogging, it’s that statistics are temporary.  One day, the greatest triumphs and the most embarrassing failures will be forgotten.  And on that day, Christ’s pleasure and the accomplishment of His purposes will be the only thing that lasts, long after we’re buried and the last statistic has dropped to zero.

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12 thoughts on “Blogging and the “S” Word

  1. Courtney

    Your blog is one of my absolute favorites on the internet, not because you are the most practical or because you post the most, but because you speak to my heart about the season I am in and remind me of God’s truth in and for it. Thank you! I wish we could be friends.

    I just started blogging and have quickly been made aware of the temptation to write *for* people. Thank you for reorienting my perspective in a God-ward direction.

    And please keep writing! Blessings to you and yours.

    Reply
    1. jeanneharrison Post author

      Courtney, I just spent some time perusing your new blog and love it. Your daughter is so beautiful! I especially liked the post about parenting (just) one child. It really is a special time when you can fix all your undivided attention on just one child. Thank you so much for the encouragement to me. Here’s to being cyber-friends! :)

      Reply
  2. Jan

    Courtney said it perfectly… I completely agree with her! Your blog is one of my favorites as well – for the same reasons. I do not blog but have often thought of it – and I completely understand where the temptation to write only for people would come in. Courage to you – keep up the fabulous work! And thanks for being an inspiration to me.

    Reply
  3. Maggie

    I’m a recent follower of your blog and have stayed up many nights lately pouring over your old posts. I so appreciate your honesty and your openness. God has spoken to my heart through so many of your posts. I, too, am a mom of young ones (4 and almost 2 years old) so I can definitely relate to your parenting posts and your marriage posts. But I think it is great that you tackle some of the more “unpopular” subjects as well. Thank you for your willingness to be open and to share!

    Reply
  4. kbothur

    So true! I have a love/hate relationship with that button, too! Thank you for the reminder about another S-word: God’s sovereignty over all things, including our writing and our audience.

    Reply
  5. alanham73

    I was just thinking about this today! My readership has been significantly down the last couple of weeks, and I just don’t know why. The statistics are such a trap. Some of my goals I have make it necessary to expand my audience. Not because I want to be popular, but because I can’t accomplish some of my goals without an audience. It all seems like a vicious trap. I could relate to every single point you made. My one post related to poverty did nearly the worst out of all my other posts. We have a “what’s in it for me” mentality, and that can be discouraging. However, I’ve had some wonderful things come from blogging, and I wouldn’t trade the lessons learned. Thanks for sharing, because I feel much better about my own struggle with this, knowing I’m not the only one!

    Reply
  6. Emily J

    God is so faithful to answer your prayers, as this was exactly the post I needed to read today! Since I started back with blogging last August, I’ve felt the constant battle of mixed motives. On one hand, I want to be a vessel used by God, submitting my gifts to him and willingly using them as he leads…on the other hand, the blog brings attention and sometimes I like it. This post put words to this difficult struggle and the way God uses it for good. Thank you for being used by him through this blog. It is one of my favorite to read…not because you are glorified, but because Jesus shines through brightly in every post.

    Reply
  7. Geneve

    Well said! And God has used your blog posts to make a significant difference in my life, and I am only one person but I’m being used to share with many :)

    Reply
  8. Liza Karuga

    I love your blog, you’re a gifted writer and and an inspirational reminder that we should live better loving lives for our Lord. Liza Nairobi, Kenya

    Reply

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