Shutting Down the Idol Factory

Sharon Seasonal, Spiritual Health, Trust 21 Comments

I could not have timed this any better. Four years ago today (I am writing this on Tuesday, March 8 ) I posted my very first blog on She Worships. I created the blog as a place where Christian women could be challenged to dig deeper in their relationship with God. Since that first day, not a week has passed without publishing at least one post. While on vacations or trips overseas, I still managed to publish steady material each week. I even had guest bloggers posting during my honeymoon. That’s how committed I was.

But committed to what? That is the question I have been asking myself lately. As I mentioned in my last post, I did a lot of soul searching over the weekend and I didn’t like everything I found. On Saturday I spent time reflecting on Matthew 16:24-27, the famous passage where Jesus asks, What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” I knew that I had been neglecting or “forfeiting” my soul, but for what? What had I been working to gain at the expense of my spiritual health?

As I pondered and prayed over that question, the answer came to me quickly and clearly: ministry success. My greatest drive, the thing I think about more than anything else, is to be effective in ministry. Given my personality type, I have a very competitive drive and if I had landed in the corporate world I would have climbed the ladder mightily. But I didn’t. I’m in ministry. So I work hard on my calling and I do all that I can to push ahead. For a writer, that means networking and promoting my blog and writing for as many publications as possible. The aim is to get my material out there. The more people who read my writing, the more effectively I am using my gift. In theory.

Unfortunately, somewhere in the midst of pursuing my calling, I stopped writing for God and started writing for me. And for that I have paid a price. My writing has become production-driven and me-centered. You may not have noticed it in the material itself, but those elements were embedded in my motives. What started out as a service to God became a service to self. The “idol factory” that is my heart had perverted an initially Christ-centered work.

So what now?

That is the question I found myself asking God once I realized my mistake. In verse 24 of Matthew 16, Jesus instructs his disciples to “deny” themselves and follow him. Whatever they were striving after instead of God, whatever they sought to gain instead of a healthy soul, they were called to deny. If my blog is the means to my “gain,” what would it look like to deny myself in this area?

As I prayed over this question a frightening thought came to mind: “Don’t blog during Lent.” Immediately, I panicked. My blog has finally gained momentum and I now write more frequently for high traffic sites. I feel as though I’m just on the cusp of something big. I can’t afford to take a break from writing! This just isn’t a good time for me.

But if this isn’t a good time, when will there be a good time? Next year? In 5 years? Ever? If I don’t have time now to stop and place my passion at God’s feet, if I am unable to hand it back to the one from whom it came, then when?

That’s when I realized that I have to do it now. I need to take a break. I need to spend time examining my heart and remembering why I started writing in the first place. I need to prune out my false motives and purify them. And most of all, I need to surrender myself to God’s love and grace so that my heart is captured by Him in a way that breathes life into my writing and directs me toward His glory, not my own.

For some of you it may be difficult to understand how tough a decision this was for me. But there is still a part of me that feels stupid for doing it. Whenever I think about the passage of 40 days without a single update on here, all I can see is my blog traffic plummeting. It hurts me to think about it. But the fact that it hurts shows me just how necessary this break is. My heart isn’t breaking for the ministry opportunities lost, but for the loss of readership I worked so hard to build. It’s me I’m hurting for.

So this is me signing off until Easter. You might run across my writing in other online locations because I either wrote pieces that are scheduled to be published during Lent, or I have deadlines I am committed to uphold, but this blog will be silent. I will miss sharing my heart, my joys and my struggles, but God has more important plans for me right now. If I’m not writing for Him, then I don’t want to write at all.

Love you all, and see you after Easter!


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Comments 21

  1. Emily R

    I admire you for making and implementing this decision. This post has spurred me to greater reflection of the idols in my own life – good things that become too elevated and all about my benefit. Thank you.

  2. Jess

    I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you to make this decision. I will be praying that God will renew your love for Him this Lenten season.

  3. mama jaja

    I know this was a tough decision to make, Sharon. We will still be hear, hungry for His words to come through your fingertips. 🙂

    My idol was FB which is now de-activated until Easter.

  4. Jenna

    the fact that you are doing this means that you are seeking to be lead by the Father, Son, and Spirit… which is why we read your blog in the first place! thanks for all of the honest words – can’t wait to hear more after Easter!

  5. Carol

    Thanks for your transparency Sharon. The practice of self-examen is neglected by many of us in our spiritual lives. You have given a beautiful testimony to this discipline and I pray for an abundance of spiritual fruit as a result of your obedience.

  6. Meryl

    Sharon, I think it’s no coincidence that I came upon this post in the midst of writing to a future blogger, asking him why he wants to write, what his goals will be, and what success will look like to him. I too have run into the same wall in my writing at times, getting away from “the virtual world is my parish.” I hope that this break refreshes your soul and gives you new insight for future writing projects!

  7. Krissi

    Go Girl!! Thanks for that reality check. I am in different circumstances, but it’s a good reminder. Time for a real heart check on what I’m doing and why.
    Thanks, Sharon!

  8. Sheila

    “To obey is better than sacrifice…” Bless you, Sharon! I’ll miss your thought-provoking insights, but I’m so proud of you! Love you.

  9. Nicole

    Nooooooooooo! 🙂 Actually I greatly admire you for this. you have no idea…

    and your blog has been bookmarked on the top bar of my browswer window for over a year. So no worries, I will still be here when you return. Praying for you 🙂

  10. MA

    Your blog has been a huge encouragement to me during my past year as a young, new disciple of Jesus Christ! Even if your blog numbers do drop, you really are making an impact on individual readers. God is getting your writing on the right screens in his perfect way! 🙂

  11. Peyton Roberts

    So bold! I have not posted a comment before now but I read and so enjoy all of your posts. Your words have inspired me and I have even used some of your ideas and angles in discussions and devotionals at my church (I’m a youth director). God has definitely woven himself into your words, and I too look forward to that Easter post. Blessings to you in this time of reflection and renewal!

  12. Bonnie Stokes

    Thank you for your honesty. I am a ministry wife and I have also been examining the motives I have had for many things and attitudes. This very morning by the direction of the Holy Spirit have had an “eye-opening, heart humbling experience” regarding the “Whys and Who” of my actions. So with you I too am reflecting and repenting. I have never posted on a blog before but I just wanted to say thanks for your vunerability and it encouraged me to not rest until all these matters have been settled for me too. I will be looking for your Easter post.

  13. Cynthia

    I can’t thank you enough for your honesty in this last blog before Easter. I have been analyzing my motives in areas of witnessing to friends and family and have often felt the same way, that I was doing it for my “glory” not His. It takes courage to admit and remove that piece of us that threatens to get in the way and take away the effectiveness of God’s word in our own lives. I will be praying that my heart will be honest with me in matters of self, and for you also. Thank you so much. I am fairly new to your blog, but I believe because of this message in particular, I will be back often. God Bless and Happy Easter!

  14. Sarah Atkinson

    Good for you, Sharon. I will miss your blogs but I hope that when you return after Easter your spirit will feel refreshed and refocused because of this break!

  15. Rebecca Pierce

    I just came across this today, Good Friday, and surely that must be significant…today, after a Lenten season of reflection and repentance, we hand over our heavy burdens, with great sense of the cost, to Jesus. I admire your courage in asking God to search you and then facing the results. What comes out of that humbling, painful journey is always beautiful. I look forward to seeing His glorious resurrection reflection in you!

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