Why do I write a Christian blog? I’ve been writing on mine faithfully for over six years. I had no agenda or motive for writing, except to stay obedient to the Holy Spirit. If you browse my blog archives, you will notice that my earliest posts are from 2009. That’s because all the post from my first three years of writing are safely saved as draft and tucked quietly into the digital abyss of my blog’s user dashboard. I keep them there as remembrance stones of my desert writing.
Mainstream blogs were fairly new in 2006, and creating online platforms for fledging writers was still a novel idea. Now, if you search the web for advice on how to get published, one of the key pointers publishers offer is to build an online presence or platform. Somehow, someway unknown writers must find and grow an audience of people who willingly read and comment on their posts. But now new tools have been created that enable readers to share writers’ posts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and a plethora of other social media sites. Not only do writers want their readers to consume their posts and respond, they hope their readers will take the posts with them wherever their online footprints lead.
Although much of social media appears to be smoke and mirrors, I do sense a profound movement of God working in them. Sure Twitter users will follow you and drop you once you follow them back. Facebook users will plead for everyone to “like” their professional Facebook Page. And Pinterest users will stay up all night gathering hundreds of pins to make their boards look robust. But under the shallow façade of importance and influence, there are hearts eager to share their growing faith in Jesus. Sadly, though, the dominating online Christian publishing voice seems to have everything backwards. Though the Bible says that humility is essential, almost every discourse concerning publishing demands that writers build their digital kingdoms—the bigger, the better; and self-importance usurps humility.
Jesus tells His disciples that “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9.35 NKJV). I honestly admit that when I first started blogging, I did so with ignorant obedience. I felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting to write, so I committed to the task. I might have been obedient, but I definitely had little faith; and my posts showed it. I grumbled and complained for three years; and every time I finished writing a post, I felt a wave of relief, like I had just finished washing the dishes. I got nothing tangible in return for my efforts—no grade, no recognition, no paycheck—and because my understanding of God’s Kingdom was so limited, I couldn’t comprehend how God would use my little acts of obedience.
In 2009, I started getting glimpses of how blogging could be worthwhile, and my indifference quickly transformed into selfish motives hidden inside Christian intentions. First, I had written my first novel, and I thought that blogging would get me closer to publication. Second, I had started enthusiastically studying the Bible, and it felt good to show off what God was teaching me. Third, I had become a fulltime mom, and I used online writing to affirm my worth and value that I should have found in God. All the while, I deceived myself into thinking that I cared about others and that my labor had significance. However, after more years of pouring time, money and energy into my blog; the gilded drape covering my self-focused actions slipped off, and I sat uncomfortably confronted by the selfish default setting of my humanity.
There is nothing more humbling and more beautiful than a one-on-one encounter with your pride. And, although pride is a thorn that never goes away, the ability to pinpoint its influence in your life is the first step toward choosing to walk in humility. If the goal for publishing professionals is to have a writer who is influential, marketable and renowned; they need to look at the wilderness of humility and not at the self-made towers of pride. Human effort can only get you so far, but God’s anointing and favor is unleashed onto the humble (Matthew 5.3). Writers can choose to build their cyber-thrones by pumping up their social media followers, hits, links, comments and shares; but when all human efforts are exhausted, the end result will be void of God’s mighty arm.
What is a writer’s main objective for cultivating his/her blog? I believe this question can’t be answered overnight—only years of desert writing can reveal a heart’s true intent. And when the root motive is revealed, a writer will either close up shop or dig in his/her heels and grow. Jesus says, “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22.27 NKJV). The Holy Spirit will wrestle with a blogger until he/she realizes that the blog is a tool used to serve people. Platforms, influence, recognition and advantages can be a side effect of blogging, but the central emphasis of a Christian blog should be to serve others. Only desert writing can provide this insight.
Gaining an audience and having an influential blog is not inherently wrong. John the Baptist had a large audience when Jesus came onto the scene; but to be certain, before there was a multitude, there was only a few. And when he had to give up his platform for the sake of God’s kingdom, he humbly yielded (John 3.30). Instead of the loud insistence on building an online platform, the Christian publishing voice should be proclaiming the absolute necessity of humility. Humility is the key, and there is nothing prideful in aggressively seeking a humble heart and objective. If you are walking in humility, the platform God has in mind for you will eventually materialize.
This is the substance of what Christian publishers are seeking: Writers who have a God-given platform. Only God can wave His mighty hand across the nations and cause an average book to shake the publishing world. Publishers and writers are limited in their strength, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19.26). We can spend all of our money, time and energy trying to influence lives; but if we are not humble, our efforts will reap only a small harvest within a vast field of frustration and disappointment. Honor comes only with humility, and anything done in pride fails (Proverbs 18.12).
Have I arrived? No, but I know where my feet are taking me. I know the voice of Him who calls me. He has led me through the maze of my heart and torn down the walls of deception. I desperately seek humility, taking Jesus’ words to heart to take the “lowest place” at the table (Luke 14.10). And my word of advice to bloggers is not to build your online kingdoms. Set your heart on God’s Eternal Kingdom and do not worry about forcing a platform, because God sets apart those who desire to honor Him (Matthew 6.33-34). God will build your online presence around His love, strength and grace; and He will provide all your needs according to His glorious riches (Philippians 4.19). Focus on loving others and serving them in all areas of your life with integrity and humility and forget about dubious online numbers. We all must walk the wilderness before entering our Promise Land, so God can make us into people after His own heart.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6.8 NIV).