You know those times in your life when you’re growing like crazy but it’s all taking place in the middle of an incredibly un-fun trial? That’s what the last nine months has been like for me.
I’ve been bombarded with temptation from every direction and have had to fight to stay close to God.
It sounds lame to say it, but my trial has been blogging. And after nine months of going to God for help with it, I can see it was the perfect trial for God to teach me a million things He wanted me to learn. Here are a few of those lessons.
What I Learned From Blogging
- Ministry is dangerous because there’s a whole new set of temptations you don’t have to face if you’re not in ministry.
- If I want to stay close to God and write, I need to be incredibly diligent to guard my relationship with Him.
- It’s unrealistic to expect everyone who reads my blog to like and accept me. It’s a given – some people will dislike and condemn me.
- The only way I can avoid that is to a) stop writing, b) always write things everyone agrees with (which is impossible), or c) hope for a change in the personality and/or beliefs of all the potential condemners who might read my blog.
- My best option is to d) learn to not let it bother me.
- The more I go to God to get my love cup filled up, the easier it will be to choose the best option.
- Satan wants me to focus on being perfect because a) then the focus is on me and not others, b) then I’ll spend so much time re-writing blogs that I won’t have enough time to write Bible studies for publication to a wider audience, and c) it usually leads to beating myself up which ties in well with his condemner-of-the-saints strategy.
- God wants me to give up perfectionism because a) He loves me and hates to see me feeling like I have to achieve a certain level of perfection to be acceptable and b) He loves others and wants me to help them. My perfectionism gets in the way of that.
- The best reward I can receive for ministry is to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
- The second best reward I can receive is to hear someone say, “Thank you. You’ve helped me grow closer to God.”
- It’s dangerous to do ministry in a country that rewards it financially because it’s so easy to a) feel like you deserve a financial reward for ministry, b) feel like you’ve been unfairly treated if you don’t get that reward, c) fall away from God if you get too big or too little of a reward, or d) make decisions based on the reward rather than on what God wants you to do – for example, not sharing things on your blog because you’re afraid another author will take them, write a book, and earn the reward you deserve. This is all incredibly unbiblical but normal in America.
- Ministry was never easy in the Bible. I shouldn’t expect it to be easy either.
- The more I fill myself with God, the less I’ll care if I’m recognized in any way for my writing.
- God is much more satisfying than recognition.
I so appreciate those of you who have commented on my posts in this series, made me think, encouraged me, and taught me lessons through your own blog posts. You’ve helped me work through my blogging problems, and I needed that. Thank you!
I’ll be starting a new series sometime in January. Until then, I’ll be doing some random posts on different subjects.
Question: What has God taught you about blogging or through blogging this past year?
P.S. The cat in the picture has taught me patience as he likes to put his paws on my computer while I type.
Thanks for sharing Barb, much of what you wrote are things God has been teaching me through blogging as well. Blogging has really humbled me and liberated me from bondage I hadn’t realized I carried.
Your post brings to mind this scripture, “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV
Wow, that’s a great BIble verse, TC – thanks for sharing it. It would be a great one for spiritual warfare in the “expecting financial rewards from ministry” department.
It’s a passage God gave to me this past year. It’s really kept my focus on God and not on rewards/treasures. It’s brought much peace to my life. I pray it blesses you as well.
Kari Scare says
God has taught me so much about blogging this past year. I wrote about it in a Happy Birthday post on my blog. Taking time to record these lessons like you did in this post goes a long way in them truly changing us. Shows a necessary deliberateness.
Thanks, Kari – I’m beginning to see why people say writing helps them grow closer to God. Whether you’re working things out for writing or just in your personal times with God, both times can be used by God for growth.
Kari Scare says
I have learned to have separate writing times just for God, kind of like a Pastor should have his own devotion time that isn’t sermon prep. They flow into each other, sure, but writing time just for God is an essential aspect of my daily devotions, which are a bedrock for my writing.
I’ve been truth journaling for about eleven years now so I have a long habit of writing times with God – and I actually enjoy those writing times. I can’t believe I could ever get so much out of writing for other people, but I guess you never know. Usually I write the things I’ve already worked out with God in my quiet times. I think this is the first series I’ve ever written where I didn’t do it that way – and it was definitely helpful – but more from people’s comments rather than from my own writing.
I just started blogging, so I am sure I have many more lessons ahead in my future. What I have learned so far is that it is a great way to reach others from all around with world for Christ. It is something that requires us to seek Him regularly and we have to work to remain humble and make sure our messages are what He would want them to be. I have found a lot of blogs that are very encouraging, but also some that are pretty disturbing. I pray God continues to teach me through this process! Thanks for sharing your lessons, I am learning from them as well!
Just checked out your blog, Shelly – it’s great. Lots of good lessons. I agree – blogging is a great way to speak into the lives of people all over the world. It’s a privilege!
Loren Pinilis says
Blogging shows me how I am big and small at the same time. Big in the sense that I can impact people and hopefully change lives, small in the sense that I realize how many other voices are out there.
Ha – that’s a good one, Loren. And so true.
Great post. Blogging has certainly shown me that God can use anyone in any way He sees fit. I often discredit what I have to say, but He’s showing me that someone somewhere might need to read it. I don’t have to track the success of it and my “post views” in order for it to be used by Him.
Kari Scare says
Rachel, I really relate to what you said about not tracking page views or numbers. I just know that He will use what I am doing and trust Him in that.
Just checked out your blog, Rachel, and I love your set-up. It looks really fun plus I loved the post you just wrote. I think you have a real gift for encouragement and motivation. I felt motivated just reading it! It made me want to get up and go to God to work on my bad habits and sins!
Karen Foster says
I’m in the middle of wedding plans for my daughter. I haven’t time to blog or comment which has shown me in the great scheme of life, making time for God is paramount if I want to function on any level. Ministry and blogs are the outpouring of my time with Him. He gives the vision and equips us. I’m foolish to think anything I try to do on my own strength has any eternal value. However, that said, I always glean nuggets from your blogs regardless of the subject so I truly hope God continues to use you for His glory. I love going with you on this journey. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for the encouragement, Karen – I love what you said about being foolish to think anything we do in our own strength has eternal value. It seems like that’s one of the tricky things about being a Christian – learning how to rely on God in whatever is going on in our lives.
I know how to rely on Him in some areas of my life – getting rid of habits or sins, for example, but I’m only beginning to learn what that looks like in other areas of my life such as blogging. It seems like it’s different in different areas.
Of course, even when I know how to do it, that doesn’t mean I do it!
I can’t imagine how busy you must be with wedding planning and Christmas at the same time – no wonder you don’t have time to blog!
Dan Black on Leadership says
Great insights and wisdom here. Knowing that trials and challenges will come is sometimes half the battle because it prepares us for anything. Expecting and replying on God is key to moving through them.
God really taught me the power and impact of community. Having people who are like minded sharing and helping each other become better is so valuable.
Kari Scare says
Amen on your comment about community. Not only is community immensely valuable, but I believe it is essential. Have read research recently about how getting involved with your church community is the single biggest factor to a person growing in faith. Wow! That’s a big deal.
I remember Anthony Campollo giving a message back in the early 80’s on accountability groups. He felt like having a small accountability group ( I think his was made up of him and three other men) was vital to growing as a Christian. Three of my kids have had those types of groups and relationships with other Christians and it’s made a huge impact in their maturity and intimacy with God.
Kari Scare says
I actually heard Tony Campolo speak at a Habitat for Humanity function almost 20 years ago. I am working on remembering where I read the research, so I can post that for Coach & others who are interested. Will definitely be back with a response.
Dan Black on Leadership says
I have not read the research but have spend several years as a church youth leader and have come to realize that important fact. Do you remember where you read it from or can you provide a link? It would be great to read it.
Kari Scare says
The main source of this information is a book called “Pharisectomy” by Peter Haas. Here are two quotes on the topic: “Quite simply, our fellowship is the single most important aspect of our physical, spiritual & emotional well-being” (p. 37). “It’s not how many sermons you’ve heard or how many tears you’ve cried during worship. Those who study behavior modification clinically in the Christian context understand that your relational community affects your behavior far more than mere Bible knowledge or worship experiences” (p. 54). Great book. I highly recommend it.
Just read about this book on Amazon – looks good! Thanks for the tip, Kari.
Kari Scare says
You’re wlcom, Barb. It is a really good book, touching an several common church “issues.”
Dan Black on Leadership says
I’ll have to buy it. Thank you for sharing it.
Kari Scare says
Definitely worth it! You’re welcome.
The power and impact of community has been the nicest surprise with blogging. I had no idea other bloggers would read my blog when I started blogging again as it was mostly non-bloggers who visited my last blog. It was so helpful when I had to work through my blogging issues to know other bloggers who could give me insights and advice as I had no one to ask for advice in my community. Plus it’s encouraging to be around so many people who want to grow.
Elizabeth Archer says
Hi! Barb :o)
As I read this post I made a few (LOL!!) notes I wanted to share! :o)
Under Ministry you mentioned-
“■If I want to stay close to God and write, I need to be incredibly diligent to guard my relationship with Him.”
Excellent point! For me this is prayer. I talk to God, but it needs to be intimate prayer. How often after bible reading or studies, do I just jump in, start writing and don’t pray for guidance before I write! ugh!!!
I am learning to pray for my critics. So hard to do. To pray their hearts be softened, that they forgive my inadequacies (sp).
When I did not blog, I had the misconception that just living my life, living for God to the best of my abilities………………that I had no critics!!
Aaaack! The computer made it possible for those who did not like me or like what I said, but would never say it to my face, tell me exactly how they felt about my short comings in a comment. OUCH!!
On the other hand, people who liked me, who read and felt encouraged, wrote me long comments of how I touched their hearts by my love for God. These people, the people who liked me had also been silent before I blogged. I didn’t know they were there.
I think my biggest error blogging, was last year I humbled myself before my critics begging their forgiveness. If I had just “given” them to God in my prayers, maybe they would have gone away and felt less empowered? But they felt further empowered to expand on my flaws.
Wow! I see myself too much here.
~satan wanting me to focus on being perfect
~beating myself up (nothing I write “sounds” good)
~And my favorite part- “He (GOD) loves others and wants me to help them. My perfectionism gets in the way of that.” Oh my, how many times do I say nothing just because “I” think it should be perfect or not said at all. When my heart knows that God uses ALL things for good! If I write to encourage, it does not need to be perfect. I am not perfect- it will not be perfect.
This was good!
You wrote “for example, not sharing things on your blog because you’re afraid another author will take them, write a book, and earn the reward you deserve. This is all incredibly unbiblical but normal in America.”
I tell stories of my life. On occassion I write something deeply personal, my humble opinion on a situation. Then I see several bloggly friends also expand on this subject after me, posting their thoughts without mentioning reading mine. (I know I’m guilty of doing this at least once, if not more) Then I see a “big name” blogger take what we all said and wrap it up into ‘her” post. Because she receives many more readers, she gets lots of praise and attention for her post. People thank her for sharing. Her readership grows more. Mine stays the same.
Then I remember, I started this to help one hurting heart, not hundreds. (Wow as I typed that I just thought- hundreds of hurting hearts! I better leave that one up to God!)
Last but not least, your Question- “What has God taught you about blogging or through blogging this past year?”
This past year was my hardest year blogging ever, because my critics became so much more severe, I almost shut my blogs down twice. (I have my “family” blog and my “adoption/Down Syndrome” blog) In April rumors by strangers who were readers, were started to dis-credit me. I fought on. Then in November, critics from my own relatives threatened to dis-credit me. All non-Christians who are stewing over my life’s mission- to be a faithful servant of God. Their guilt over living without God fuels them. Really really hard stuff. I love these people.
And then as I wept over cruel words in the middle of the night; I’d get an e-mail from that one woman, a woman like me, also hurting and searching. “She/they” often tell me they don’t know how they found me. But reading my blogs gave them hope and joy.
Wow. I am beyond humbled that God could use my imperfect little words in a big way! (like Loren mentioned) So I continue to search/fish for hurting people to encourage. Maybe my critics attacks are another way God helps me relate to others pain. But rather than write about pain, I write about my joy.
Thank You Barb! As always your studies help me find the words to put my “worldly” confusion in its place. I enjoyed thinking about why I blog, why I minister. I like that! And I have enjoyed each and every post, even if I was so busy changing 5 boy’s diapers I did not get time or remember to comment to let you know!
I did remember to lift you in prayer and thank God for you!
What a great comment, Elizabeth – it’s fun to read about all your experiences with the different things I’ve struggled with. I love what you said about perfectionism. I never thought of it in that light before – that God uses all things for good so He can use my imperfections and imperfect writing for good. That’s really encouraging – I’ll have to remember that.
I haven’t had the experience you’ve had with criticism – no one has said anything on my blog that i can remember. It’s just that some of the people I’m close to don’t have the same philosophy of life as I do so I assume they would also think my blog is a little ridiculous. I don’t think criticism is necessarily bad, though, even though it’s painful. It can help us grow in a lot of ways – both when we’re in the wrong and when we’re in the right. Not that it’s a growth method that I would embrace and look forward to!
I so appreciate reading all your thoughts and also being prayed for, Elizabeth. Thanks for the encouragement, too, and enjoy all those kiddos!
Ngina Otiende says
the cat does what?..lol No wonder you have re-write your posts!. am thinking she’s not a great writer… haha.
Your series has helped me so much. I had alot of ideas about what i believed about blogging and it wasn’t until I wrote some of these thoughts down (using your guides) that I was able to really see what i truly believe. some of it was good and some of it not so good.
Recently God took me on a journey (which mostly manifested as a mini-meltdown!) and once again, I’ve been reminded what blogging and writing is. and is not. God’s reminded me that my life is much more than my acts, which include writing and blogging. It’s about relationship with Him. So often the online world or writing can swallow up and consume our thoughts and lives in such unhealthy ways.
A few weeks ago I read some disturbing words from a christian blogger and it broke my heart. They wrote “i am a writer first, a christian second”. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the statement. yet that’s what happens when we lose balance. We may not declare it as loudly, but that’s how we live our lives.
Thanks for sharing this journey with us. You took us right along with you and am sure many of us were nodding and ouching right along! And hopefully changing. God bless. looking forward to the new series in january.
Thank you so much for this encouraging comment, Ngina – I’m so glad you got a lot out of the series. God is still using it in my life – you know how you can work through an issue forever without a lot of results and then one day you notice – hey, things have changed! That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. I have my joy back. I’m so thankful for the last nine months of struggle in blogging and writing about it – it wasn’t fun, but God has used it to strengthen me and point out sin in my life. I needed it. Still have a ways to go in several blogging areas but at least I’m seeing some major breakthroughs!
Love this post—-with all the blogging problems I am having right now I think you know why I chose this topic from your menu! ;) I struggle with some of the same things, Barb. Thanks for your perspective—-it has really helped!
Barb Raveling says
Haha, yes, I understand. Blogging is a wonderful opportunity for character development. :) All those problems!!!
Jo Wilmer says
Blogging….well after a few years I thought, “why” am I blogging this and that. Am I trying to gain followers with my writing or entertain? The Lord really had me deal with my heart and get re-focused.
Sure, we all face those who will not agree with our Christian agenda. We will be ridiculed and disheartened at times. We will spend time away from His Word, we will be drawn into the social media thing and time will be stolen from Him.
How soon I learned, and felt Him tug at my heart. Christ was my focus, then I was split apart trying to keep up. So I stopped. I got back on track and focused on Christ and His outreach. Remembering that “only what is done for Christ will last” I got back on course and began planting seeds of faith again for Him. Reaching out to women of faith and those who need to know Him as Saviour. I am so happy I adjusted my sails and kept on course for Him. Not for crafts or food, or coupons or give-aways but for Him.
So many start out for Him and then end up for something else.
May we all stop, pray and ask for guidance when we get online and blog as a woman of faith.
As for me ( and I am not judging anyone here) I have decided to just stick with Go & Tell as He commanded.
Be blessed in all you do for Him….JO
Barb Raveling says
Thanks so much for sharing what God has taught you through blogging, Jo. It’s interesting reading this old blog post again as I wrote it 2 1/2 years ago and I can see how I’ve really grown in some areas. Some of the things I struggled with then I haven’t struggled with for awhile. But I still feel like I have to spend more time working through issues with God now than i did when I wasn’t a writer – iI guess it’s still the perfect trial to teach me lessons God wants me to learn. :) But it’s also become something I enjoy and a great blessing. That’s nice to see!