A couple days ago my friend, Lore Ferguson, tweeted this comment:
I’ve been thinking about her lament quite a lot since then.
There is an endless number of reasons why blog content is often sub-par (not the least of which is the sheer pressure to PRODUCE, which does not correlate well with quality and thoughtfulness) but it got me to thinking about my own writing, and the quality of the content I put out.
As you can see, the name of this blog is She Worships. The title captures the original heart behind this blog, which I began nearly 7 years ago. I believe the chief end of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever–in short, to live a life defined by worship–so I created this blog as an extension of that belief.
Because I also believe that worship is not confined to the walls of a church, but is instead a way of living, this blog covers all sorts of topics, many of which have traced the trajectory of my life. My longtime readers have watched me traverse the seasons of dating, then marriage, then becoming a mom.
As I encountered each stage I tried to write thoughtfully about them, all through the lens of Christ.
At face value, topics like self-image or modesty or singleness may not seem like matters of worship, but they can be. Many times, those topics are a reflection of my own journey, my own living out of this worship-shaped life.
Those topics do not, necessarily, compromise the core mission of the blog.
But, I’ll admit it’s a slippery slope.
Sometimes I wonder about that fine line between writing that encourages, and writing that is vaguely self-helpish.
Sometimes I wonder about the line between thinking critically or theologically, and totally missing the point.
Sometimes I wonder if the content has turned away from an orientation toward God, and has gradually shifted back toward me.
As much as I want this to be a space where I am honest about my struggles and the work of grace therein, I wonder if too much of my content is, at the end of the day, human centered.
To return to Lore’s initial concern, I wonder if that human-centeredness has seeped into the Christian blogosphere and robbed it of its power. On the one hand, we need blogs that encourage believers to persevere through trials. Life is hard, suffering is real, and we need voices exhorting us to press on through the darkness.
We also need blogs that thoughtfully discuss controversial issues. We need blogs that speak into the culture and say hard things.
But what happens when those types of posts are the most popular? And what happens when that popularity influences the content bloggers create? What happens when Christians bloggers are so focused on woundedness and healing and controversy–namely, what sells–that we never get to topics like holiness, sacrifice, and mission?
What if we are contributing to a culture of Christianity that is more self-centered than it is Christ-centered?
I’ve walked this line between human-edifying and human-centered, and many times I’ve fallen on the wrong side. I blame it, mostly, on pure laziness. After hashing out my own issues and Christ’s grace in the midst, I don’t always take the next step. I don’t always ask, “Now what?” or
What does this teach me about God’s character?
What does this mean for my neighbor who doesn’t know Christ?
What does this mean for the poor who live in my community?
At what point do I stop focusing on me, how I feel, and what I think, and instead turn the focus back to God?
When do I stop writing about the injury that knocked me down, and get back up and RUN?
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for healing and encouragement to survive the chaos of life. And there is a place for discussing hot topics.
But I think a lot of us bloggers struggle to take the next, most important step. I’m not sure how many Christian blogs look us square in our lives and call us–and by “us” I mean me, you, in our actual lives, not the people out there–to more. To fight the good fight, to live a life worthy of the hope we profess.
I wish I could say that I have written every one of my posts with Christ and the cross in the center of my sight, but I haven’t. The good desires to think critically, to comfort the hurting, and encourage the weary can so easily become ends unto themselves.
That’s why I am grateful to Lore for her hard honesty. I needed it. I’ll be thinking on it a lot in the days and weeks to come. Because Christ is worthy of more.
And to those of you who’ve been hanging in there with me these many years, thanks for your patience and grace as I continue to figure out this thing called writing. I am an imperfect vessel, but He is not done with me yet. Praise be to God.
First, Sharon — your blog is a rare gem of wonderful, thoughtful, writing. Although it’s right for all of us to carefully examine ourselves, you do a good job of honoring Christ in your writing while being sensitive to current issues.
This exact line of thinking has been on my mind lately. How do I honor Christ with my words and have a meaningful impact on my readers? I echo Lore’s concern.
My question has been, what exactly do I do?
This statement so resonated: ” What happens when Christians bloggers are so focused on woundedness and healing and controversy….” I wrote this yesterday for a not-yet-published post: “We’ve confused our suffering with God’s sufficiency. We’ve made an idol of our pain. Instead of worshipping the great Deliverer, we’ve worshipped our own experience and made suffering our God.”
This is a tragic misplacement of our priorities that causes great confusion in the body of Christ.
Thank you for your words. Thank you for giving voice to thoughts some of us are having and for calling us to self-examination.
Love you back!
Sharon, your writing always seems thoughtful to me–you look below the surface to try and see what’s really going on. The fact that you are concerned about missing the mark means you are vigilant and open to God–a trait not always readily seen in Christian writing, unfortunately. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Wifehood and motherhood are tough jobs (there’s a reason Paul encourages those who can handle it to remain unmarried in I Corinthians 7 🙂 ). They can require a lot of close focus that can seem like self-focus but I think that’s okay… Doing “trench” work (most of the work of life) can seem like an end unto itself but really, I think it’s HOW we fight the good fight and live a life worthy of the hope we profess. It is the real work of mission, where we sacrifice, and grow in holiness. I have struggled a lot with this–maybe God doesn’t want us to do more, or be more, even for His sake, but to rest in Him while doing what He’s given us to do with all of our might (Ecclesiastes 9:10), knowing that it is good enough, because nothing we do is good enough anyway without His power working in us. I always appreciate your writing, Sharon; you have a real ministry and I think you do it very well.
Thank you both for that affirmation–I promise I wasn’t fishing for compliments, but I appreciate the encouragement. Some of this was a confession of my own heart’s orientation, which may not always show through right away, but if left unbridled, surely will. But I do value your words so much–thank you!
And Eyvonne, let me know when that posts. It sounds really interesting and challenging!
Thanks for sharing Lore Ferguson’s tweet. I’ve noticed a similar shift in my blog reading habits, and like the challenge to consider why that has happened.
In telling our stories of pain, suffering, healing and transformation– which I think we must, the challenge is to tell them well AND place them in the Great Story of Redemption God is telling. It’s tempting to write posts which bring the most traffic, as though “hits” are a validation of subject worthiness or writing quality. But I like your challenge to consider whether or not our writing is turning people toward God, toward a greater understanding of our incomprehensible Creator.
I want to take that challenge to heart. Thank you for the thought-provoking post.
“Sometimes I wonder about that fine line between writing that encourages, and writing that is vaguely self-helpish.” Sharon, you have really convicted me tonight, as well as encouraged me to glorify Christ in everything…including blog posts. Thank you!