Thanks to my (associate) pastor, Dan Hazen of Allen Creek Community Church for giving me the ability to see my own heart. And thanks to God who gave Dan the wisdom to do so.
I first started blogging years ago on Live Journal. I kept it as a journal (fancy that, using Live Journal
as a journal) simply to document my daily life and to communicate with friends. But I didn't stick with it for long.
Some time later, Xanga was suggested to me. So I signed up and used Xanga much like I used Live Journal originally. It was just an outlet to get my thoughts out and to connect with my other online friends.
Eventually, though, my focus on what I blogged about began to take a shift. I wrote less and less about my personal life and started writing more and more about Christian stuff. When my other friends online having long since died away from using Xanga, I had smaller amounts of feedback, but there was still enough that I felt it was worth while to keep writing.
It's difficult to sum up accurately my entire attitude over the last couple of years, so I will jump right up to my attitude of late. It has occurred to me that I might be writing all these various Christian-related works more for attention - the "what can I get out of it" mentality - rather than writing to serve my fellow humans. Are my frustrations with a small handful of comments to my recent posts - some of which I consider my best works of late - due to the unmet desire for glory and praise? I wonder.
To elaborate, I have questioned myself:
...Are you writing to provide truthful answers, guidance, encouragement and clarity? Or are you writing to gain praise for your knowledge and insight?
...Are you upset that few people leave comments, providing you with a better idea of how effective your efforts are? Or are you upset that, despite the number of people visiting your site and the recommendations your posts are given, no one hardly says a word on what you've written?
...Are you in this to give or to get?
...Are you seeking to help others or yourself?
...Are you serving
without a mind about reward or are you trapped in a mindset of servility
basically means "abjectly submissive; slavish". Another way to look at it is to think of yielding your will to another person or thing. You give up your freedom on purpose in order to bend mindlessly to the will of someone else. When my church's associate pastor gave this very message to us men during a Saturday morning men's breakfast, he asked very nearly that same question. It was the very question that has been running through my mind every time I look to see how well received my blog posts are.
While I would love to say that I have nothing but
a servant's heart, giving without concern about my popularity in the blogging community for what I write (and I really do strive to write that way), the likelihood, I am noticing lately, is that I am a slave to the expectation of (or, at least, a strongly growing desire for) success and high praises. It would seem I am writing with a second motive to win favor for myself, and when that doesn't happen, I sink into discouragement. I have made a deal with Fame, locked into a contract, and then discover that Fame is not so trustworthy. Fame has broken the contract, yet I have been foolishly upholding my end of a foolish transaction agreement: I have sold my blogging soul to an empty promise.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:1-4, "Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
For a blogger, this might seem like an odd verse to share; I have to put my material out in the open for others to read, otherwise, it doesn't matter how good my writing really is, it doesn't do any good if it's not out there for others to read for themselves. What Jesus is saying, though, is that I need to check my heart and see that my reasons for doing what I do is not purely for myself. I shouldn't be looking for glory and honor. Because if I do, I gamble on getting attention or getting none. I can never be sure who is going to read my writings and who is going to like it but not say anything...I just don't know!
But God knows! He can see all the good things I truly desire to do. He can see deep down into my heart and He knows my motives. He knows I want to help and teach and guide people with love. So even if I get totally passed over, by accident or on purpose, so that I don't receive the slightest recognition for even my best writings, God notices, and He will reward me.
I suppose a good question for anyone to ask themselves why it is that they are doing something would be this, "If I never got a single glance...if no one ever acknowledged what I do, would I still do it? Even if I love doing what I do, and I truly do it amazingly well, but no one noticed, would I quit or would I keep on?"
Ask yourself that question when you're faced with the frustrations of what seems to be a lack of recognition. It does hurt when it seems few people notice your efforts or that you're totally taken for granted. And if you notice that you're expecting certain things to come of what you do - particularly from other people - you may want to check your heart.
This was a gentle but huge eye-opener for me. No joke, God spoke to me on this one. If this sounds like you, I hope you have felt the same gentle heart-check, too.Why do you do good things for others? Do you struggle with expecting something in return when you do something nice? Do you do good things for the sake of others but still feel taken for granted?