Popular BloggerBlog / Produced by The High Calling
The first time I was called a popular blogger was when twenty people were subscribed to my blog. A movement with a theological bent had sprouted on my undergraduate campus and I wrote a timely blog post critiquing what I saw as the problematic beliefs embodied by its leaders.
The post enjoyed a few shares in the first hour and then quickly and exponentially grew into thousands of pageviews. Within a day, a number of posts had been written in response to my own; among them, the one that named me and my tiny blog of otherwise twenty readers a popular blogger.
It was a polite fiction that I didn’t bother to correct because I loved it.
It’s been several years now and I’ve enjoyed my handful of viral posts since. My readership has grown and my presence in the blogging space feels more rooted and established. About a year ago I signed a book contract.
I have, given how people normally keep score of these things, made it. I have reached the end of Christian blogging: the book deal. Done. Roll credits. I will be forever satisfied.
Except that’s a polite fiction, too. One that I will bother to correct.
What was true of me when twenty people read my blog is still true of me when I sign my book contract: there is a part of me that is in this for the notoriety, for the being seen, for being considered one of the ones who know; one of the ones who is to give opinion on things. One of the ones who is in the always-not-in-reach elite circle of people who have made it.
Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with turning off your phone or not getting on Facebook after dinner, but for me it has a lot to do with that. The other night, Hilary and I were talking about the latest crazy that was bouncing around the Christian blogs and I made some sort of side comment about needing to write a response to it.
“Why?” she asked pointedly.
I bit my bottom lip. I didn’t say anything because I was too embarrassed to say it aloud: Because I’m a popular blogger. Because people look to me to have an opinion. Because I need to defend God or the faith or the kingdom from this.
And there, written out, is the cold truth of it. What motivates me a bit too often when it comes to writing is an over-realized belief in my own importance to the work of God.
I get all in a fury ready to defend the faith when, in reality, it’s not my fight or not my place or not my task.
I heard once that Sabbath is best understood not as a rest in order to then go out and do more work, but a stopping, a declaration to the self that the self is not God, that the world will keep on turning if the self stays immobile.
Imperfectly, carelessly, I am trying to practice a kind of Sabbath awareness when it comes to blogging. I still turn out a barn-burner from time to time, but I like to think I’m a bit more gentle about it and less of the ambulance chaser I have been.
It may not make for viral posts, but it makes for a much richer dependence on God.
Quitting time would be easier if deadlines, insecurity, perfectionism, and expectations disappeared. We could simply lay our pencils down and walk away from the task in peace. Unfortunately, this is not our experience. The urgent trumps the important. The urgent trumps the clock, too. “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for God grants sleep to those he loves.” Conceptually appealing, yet realistically challenging when pressure knocks on the door, the wisdom of the Psalmist often fails to change our ways.
This article is part of a series at The High Calling called Pencils Down. Our hope is that in everything, from to-do lists to identity, we will be encouraged to make small advances toward stopping when it’s time to stop.