Advertisers on television are masters at temptation. They know exactly what to do to get us to buy their product.
Their goal? Sales. Their method? Make us believe we’d be a lot happier if we bought their product.
Satan does the same thing. He just has a less attractive goal. He wants to destroy our relationship with God. And if he can destroy our relationship with others and make God look bad in the process, that would be nice too.
And so he manipulates. Tempts. Lies. Anything to get us to believe that his way is better than God’s way.
He especially wants anyone involved in ministry to believe his lies – because if we believe them, we have the potential to lead millions astray – or at least tens or hundreds, depending on how big our ministry is.
Lies that Look Like Truth
The problem – and this is why Satan is so successful – is that it’s hard to recognize his lies. They don’t look like lies. Why? Because we’ve grown up with them. They’re everywhere. We’ve seen them so often, we don’t even see them anymore. In fact, they look like truth.
For the past six months I’ve been working through some of these lies in my own life – trying to figure out why writing a Christian blog is so hard. Why it has a tendency to take me away from God when it should be something that draws me toward him.
I’ve filled a couple of journals with conversations with God, truth journaling sessions, Scripture prayers, and Scripture-work-through sessions trying to see ministry from God’s point of view.
As I looked through my journals in preparation for this blog, I saw the same lies and temptations coming up again and again. I talked to other bloggers and ministry leaders. They were going through the same struggles and gave me a few more to think about. See if you can relate.
10 Temptations of Christian Bloggers and Ministry Leaders
- People pleasing: avoiding certain subjects because we know they’ll make people mad, trying to make everything fun so people will like us, worrying more about what people think than what God thinks.
- Compulsive Stat Checking: obsession with blog stats, church/ministry attendance numbers, or the number of people going forward each week.
- Comparison: defining ourselves by the number of people who come to our blog/ministry, feeling like we’re only as good as the number of people who come.
- Escape: turning to our favorite coping techniques to escape the frustrations of ministry, writing, and platform building rather than going to God for help with those frustrations.
- Entitlement: feeling like we shouldn’t have to do hard things or deal with unpleasant people, feeling like we deserve to be rewarded for our efforts.
- Ignoring God: spending so much time on ministry/platform building we don’t have time for God, writing/speaking in our own strength, discipling without being a disciple, rushing through quiet times so we can get on to other things.
- Obsession: spending so much time writing, platform building, and doing ministry that our relationships with God and others suffer, making an idol of writing, ministry, blogging, or success.
- Pride: feeling like we know it all, being unwilling to look at other ways of doing things, writing others off just because they disagree with us.
- Self-Serving Motives: doing ministry for non-loving-God-and-others motives.
- Procrastination: putting off things God wants us to do, always planning to do them later and never doing them, focusing on the fun parts of ministry/blogging and ignoring the rest.
These are the issues we’ll be talking about over the next couple of months. The list is daunting, but thank God, we have His promise: greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world. I’m excited to see what He’ll teach us as we delve into His Word and learn from Him and each other during this series.
If you know anyone who would be interested in this discussion, please invite them to join us – or share this post on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks!
2016 Update: Since this post, I’ve written a book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, that I use to renew my mind about my struggles with writing. If you’d like to see a list of the blog posts on blogging and ministry, click here.
Questions: Does blogging and ministry bring you closer to God or further from Him? Can you relate to any of these temptations? Are there any I missed?
Deb Wolf (@BlessingCounter) says
Oh Barb, This is so good! Personally my attitude concerning my blog is something about which I have to pray everyday. I quit looking at my stats and my Klout score. It’s so tempting, but every time I start checking, I start comparing, and I get discouraged. The only way I am able to keep my focus and have peace is to continually pray . . . offering each post to the Lord to use it as He wills.
“It’s not about me” is one of my life’s greatest challenges. I am really looking forward to this study. Thanks!
Thanks, Deb. When I first started thinking about writing Freedom from Emotional Eating, l thought, “I know, I’ll write the study and then do it myself, and then maybe I’ll get over my eating problems.” That’s the same way I feel about this blogging study. I need it just as much or more than anyone who will be doing it along with me. (I did get over my eating struggles, so hopefully it will work with blogging too – although I might rather do it in a less public setting!)
Kari Scare says
Blogging and ministry definitely brings me closer to God or further from Him. Yet, I can still relate to the temptations you mention. There is a part of me that really wants my blog to be wildly famous and popular, yet the Holy Spirit’s voice remains louder than that fleshly voice. His voice is telling me to remain obedient, and at this point that means blogging about topic He lays on my heart and pursuing the “blog stuff” as He pricks me to do so. I’m not certain where exactly He’s taking me or how quickly we’ll get there, but I do know (and much of this is based on past mistakes) that my rushing it by pursuing “blog stuff” to quickly or too much will take me out of obedience to His will. Constant flesh/spirit battle for me.
Ah, but you’re being very mature about it so far, Kari. One of your comments on the last post I think got me to thinking – I think my problem might be the iPhone app I just launched. Part of my impure motive is to sell enough apps to recover my expenses in making it – not that there’s anything wrong with writing a blog for that purpose. But for me it represents a “high place” in my life.
I don’t care if I make a lot of money but I’d rather not lose money! One of the things God keeps teaching me through His Word is that ministry is so often a sacrifice – we just don’t think of it that way in our country – so I need to adjust my thinking. I should be willing to lay down my life for God – including my bank account!
Kari Scare says
You’re right, ministry is often a sacrifice. I am blessed to be able to blog without having to worry too much about the money aspect. Yet, it is a sacrifice in other ways for me. My first goal was to not be losing money, which I have reached. Now, I’m with you on at least wanting to make some money at it, but I’m trying so hard not to rush the process. I’ve rushed too many things in my life and ended up getting ahead of God, if that makes sense, and that is not a place I want to be in ever again. So, I’m learning to wait on Him. For me, that is a sacrifice since I am a “dive in and make it happen” kind of person.
Wow, this looks great! I can’t wait. I know I can relate to a few of them on your list.
In some ways blogging brings me closer to God. I’ve met amazing Christians who have taught me Spirit filled messages. I’ve had God communicate to me through many blogs. Often I’m blown away by God confirming a message to me through bloggers I barely know.
But it is tricky, because there are times I’ve rushed through my personal Bible Study to start blogging, after all, I’m reading Christian blogs so I necessarily have to spend as much time in the word…right? NO.
God has really been helping me find a balance. God first, family second then other stuff. While blogging is a ministry, it cannot come at the expense of my relationship with God or at the expense of my family. I am responsible for raising my son, I can’t do that if I’m busy online.
It’s a tough balance. God bless you for tackling this topic. I’m ready to get my toes stepped on, my heart cleansed and my mind focused where it needs to be!
Kari Scare says
What you point out is also something with which I struggle, that balance between writing (even though it’s a ministry) and spending time with God & my family. Balance is key. I’m also finding ways they overlap. God speaks to me about my blog during our time together, and my kids and husband enjoy talking about my blog and giving me ideas. My oldest has even “written” a post for me before. I’m glad you pointed that out, because I do tend to want to get to writing sometimes because I love it so much. I need to trust that God will bring ideas back around when I choose what is better, and that is always relationships.
If I think of an idea when I’m having my quiet time, I just jot it down quick so I can remember it later – I’m guessing that would work for when you were visiting too as long as it was just a one or two sentence write down. I know I’ve written down things my kids have said because I wanted to think about them and write about them.
Kari Scare says
Oh yeah, my idea book or a piece of paper and pen are always nearby.
That’s awesome, Kari, about your kid writing a post for you. I can’t wait for my son to get old enough for something like that.
My spouse has given me a few idea’s. There’s one I need to be working on. If only I had more time…
Kari Scare says
My family is so supportive. Really, not just supportive, but involved. My husband pretty much named my blog based on what I said to him as I described what I wanted to do. Having a supportive, involved family makes a HUGE difference.
Ah, I love your attitude, TC. I’m beginning to suspect that for me I’ll have to spend more time with God now that I’m blogging just to keep my heart pure.
A pure heart and checking our motives so good things don’t become idols- the Bonhoeffer book and series on “The Cost of Discipleship” is helping me with that. I’ve read it a few times now and each time, I’m like “Wow, I’ve got to work on that” or “Ouch, still messing up there.”
Thank God for his grace!
Fantastic list. You really hit it from all angles. I procrastinate, and escape. I know I do but I still do at times. The blog has helped me with a firm-ish schedule to eliminate putting things off and using my creativity there helps me alleviate frustration so I don’t escape as often. Good post.
I procrastinate and escape too – that’s two of the things I’d like to overcome during this series. At least I don’t escape with eating like I used to – or I would be about 200 pounds overweight now that I’m a writer!
Thanks for the post, some very important points to keep in mind always. It is about God, not me! It is for God’s glory not mine. It doesn’t matter if just one reads or 500, it is about God!!!
You hit the nail on the head – those are the exact things I need to keep reminding myself of every day. (I should put them on a little card above my desk.) Thanks for commenting.
Brandon Gilliland says
Great stuff! Thanks for sharing these!
Thanks for stopping by.
Right on… I’ve struggled with these same temptations… The temptation to be jealous when someone else breaks through a barrier we’re still stuck at whether attendance on Sunday, or page views.
I know exactly what you mean. A year ago I was trying to come up with envy questions for a Bible study I was teaching, but I hadn’t experienced much envy so I was having a hard time trying to figure out what questions to ask – and then I started blogging . . . and suddenly I knew what kinds of questions to ask because I needed them myself.
Jon Stolpe says
Great post! I think it’s important to keep these things in check. As a blogger, math lover, and people pleaser, it’s so easy for me to fall into the trap of stat watching. I want my blog to glorify God and to stretch people along the way.
Thanks for sharing, Jon. I’m beginning to see we all deal with a lot of the same things.
Dan Black on Leadership says
Honestly at times I struggle to make my devotions and spending time with God a priority over life and blogging. It’s a constant challenge for me to have Him my priority. But it’s worth it.:)
Barb Raveling says
Just realized I never answered your comment here, Dan. Sorry about that! I’ve been thinking the same thing you thought 8 months ago – that fighting to make Him my priority has been worth the struggle. When I wrote this blog post, I was in the thick of the battle and temptation was my constant companion. I was thinking it would be so much easier to just give up blogging. Now 8 months later, I can look back and see how God has matured me. I was so tired of going to Him for the same issues and the same temptations, but I knew I would never get over them if I didn’t work through them – plus I couldn’t stand the turmoil. I’m still tempted at times but it’s at a much lower level, and I’m back to feeling close to God again. It’s been worth the struggle. :)
Melanie Wilson says
What a great post! I can unfortunately identify with too much of it. I tweeted it, so hope other bloggers will read.
Barb Raveling says
Thanks, Melanie. Back when I wrote this post, I was thinking it would be so much easier to just give up blogging. I’m glad i didn’t. Yes, it has brought a bunch of new temptations into my life, but God has helped me grow so much through coming to Him for help with the temptations. It’s been worth it.
Holly Loube says
Wow, this post is awesome and incredibly convicting. I appreciate your honesty, it allowed me to be honest with myself and recognize that I do truly struggle with these temptations. I’ll definitely be sharing this in a Christian blogging group I’m in! Thank you!! (Also- I LOVE your writing style!)
Barb Raveling says
Thanks, Holly, I also LOVE your writing style! Your blog is so practical AND fun! I love that you have all those little video sort of things to add to your points. :)
I am really bad at the whole stat checking thing. Not because I want to be huge or famous or anything but when there are big numbers I feel like the message God gave me is reaching people. When it gets low I start to feel like I am wasting my time because the message isn’t getting out. Lately I have been slowing down and refocusing and really trying to just let God take the wheel. He has called me to write and I am being obedient to that. I need to trust that he will multiply my efforts for His glory and in His time.
Barb Raveling says
Hi Alonda, I know how your feel. At least for me, writing can be hard because I can’t see who I’m writing to. So sometimes it seems like I’m just writing to myself. I agree that we just need to trust God for the results. I didn’t realize in the beginning (I wrote this blog post almost 4 years ago) that I was in part blogging to just build a body of work that could help people and that that takes a lot of time. I checked out your blog – it looks great! Glad you are persevering with the writing!