Building an Audience

In response to my recent BodyLife article about “How Do I…” I got this amazing note this morning. This is from a young brother I’ve been in touch with for a few years. I love what he is discovering, and think few realize the critical lessons God is teaching him when they are busy trying to build an audience for “their ministry.” It can be a huge trap of darkness:

Wayne, I just read “How Do I?” for about the fifth time, and it still keeps kicking me in the heart. You know, I started a blog in January and recently, the audience began to expand. The feelings that came with that expansion left me feeling sort of yucky. I’m sure you know the feeling.

You can’t get to sleep because of that one, negative comment about your last article. Every time you read a scripture or have a meaningful experience, you wonder if that would make a good article. All the while, the Spirit is saying, “This is not My plan; this is not My purpose. Don’t follow your desire for recognition and influence. It is poisoning your ability to freely live life.”

Finally, while sort of aimlessly praying about this in the shower this morning, I told the Lord (and later, my wife) that I’m going to take a break from even looking at (my) blog for the week. I need a normal life again. I don’t want to be a quasi-celebrity in my own little, creative fiefdom that’s built around my insatiable desire for affirmation.

Thank you so much for writing that article. It has been like oxygen to me so many times. Seriously man, it’s been a big help. This experience has helped me realize that your life might not be so enviable after all – and I don’t mean that as a dig. Dealing with perpetual affirmation and lofty expectations from others can be an enormous distraction for the writer and his audience. God help us all.

Fortunately, I haven’t dealt with the need for affirmation for some time. But I know its power and how it can distort even the gifts God has put inside of us. Following him has to remain at the core of our choices each day and any other substitute to guide our actions is a trap. That doesn’t mean writing a blog or publishing a book is inherently wrong. It simply means that we have eyes open enough to recognize when we’re giving up our freedom in him for any other agenda.

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12 Comments
  1. Bones June 7, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Your young friend’s note and your commentary went straight to the heart of a matter that’s been haunting me for more than a year now. I had wrestled for some time with whether to begin a blog, having received some encouragement from others with things I’ve written in the past. But there was something inside that was holding me back, and I realize now that it was the freedom that I’ve been growing into.

    My particular version of the flesh as it was formed and twisted through my youth and early adulthood was very much performance oriented, people pleasing, and affirmation seeking. Through a series of experiences with listening and healing prayer over the past several years, Father has been healing many of the wounds that drove me and my behavior. He has repeatedly spoken the truth of His personal love for and delight in me as His beloved child, and I find that I am trusting that truth with increasing consistency, rather than following the urges of my old need to please.

    As I got involved on some internet forums and Facebook, I felt that I was a part of a community with which I could share my growing freedom. And it seemed at times that some of the folks I interacted with were being genuinely helped along the path of their journeys. This was when I began to contemplate blogging as a way to be an encouragement to more folks.

    But just about a year ago, a fairly near relative by marriage, in viewing various quotes and recommendations of books which I had placed on my Facebook page, chose to take me to task for my “heretical leanings”. Despite my attempts and invitations to sit down and talk through what he sees as our differences, he refuses to meet or talk, citing that “we are not brothers in the Lord”, and therefore it would be inappropriate for him to meet and talk with me. He has decided that I’m not a believer! You can imagine the pain this has brought me and other family members, given that he and his wife now refuse to be a part of any family occasion that my wife and I will participate in!

    That is all quite painful! But more than that, I find myself wondering at every status update or note that I publish, whether he or some other heresy hunter or watch/discernment blogger will be patrolling my words in order to police my doctrine! I don’t want to live in bondage to the opinion of others anymore, but I’ve no interest in this sort of drive by assault from those who refuse to even engage in genuine dialogue. Through this and similar experiences, I’ve withdrawn from the forums I used to be active on and even helped to moderate. And I keep my recommendations of books, etc. primarily to face-to-face encounters, rather than relying on social media to express such things.

    So perhaps I’ve taking a few steps back in my freedom… or perhaps I just need to rethink the contexts in which I choose to express it. I’ve yet to have someone “diss” me so severely with whom I can sit over a cup of coffee and converse eye-to-eye and face-to-face! While all these media options may be extremely social, I’m not convinced that there is much about them that is genuinely relational!

  2. Bones June 7, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Your young friend’s note and your commentary went straight to the heart of a matter that’s been haunting me for more than a year now. I had wrestled for some time with whether to begin a blog, having received some encouragement from others with things I’ve written in the past. But there was something inside that was holding me back, and I realize now that it was the freedom that I’ve been growing into.

    My particular version of the flesh as it was formed and twisted through my youth and early adulthood was very much performance oriented, people pleasing, and affirmation seeking. Through a series of experiences with listening and healing prayer over the past several years, Father has been healing many of the wounds that drove me and my behavior. He has repeatedly spoken the truth of His personal love for and delight in me as His beloved child, and I find that I am trusting that truth with increasing consistency, rather than following the urges of my old need to please.

    As I got involved on some internet forums and Facebook, I felt that I was a part of a community with which I could share my growing freedom. And it seemed at times that some of the folks I interacted with were being genuinely helped along the path of their journeys. This was when I began to contemplate blogging as a way to be an encouragement to more folks.

    But just about a year ago, a fairly near relative by marriage, in viewing various quotes and recommendations of books which I had placed on my Facebook page, chose to take me to task for my “heretical leanings”. Despite my attempts and invitations to sit down and talk through what he sees as our differences, he refuses to meet or talk, citing that “we are not brothers in the Lord”, and therefore it would be inappropriate for him to meet and talk with me. He has decided that I’m not a believer! You can imagine the pain this has brought me and other family members, given that he and his wife now refuse to be a part of any family occasion that my wife and I will participate in!

    That is all quite painful! But more than that, I find myself wondering at every status update or note that I publish, whether he or some other heresy hunter or watch/discernment blogger will be patrolling my words in order to police my doctrine! I don’t want to live in bondage to the opinion of others anymore, but I’ve no interest in this sort of drive by assault from those who refuse to even engage in genuine dialogue. Through this and similar experiences, I’ve withdrawn from the forums I used to be active on and even helped to moderate. And I keep my recommendations of books, etc. primarily to face-to-face encounters, rather than relying on social media to express such things.

    So perhaps I’ve taking a few steps back in my freedom… or perhaps I just need to rethink the contexts in which I choose to express it. I’ve yet to have someone “diss” me so severely with whom I can sit over a cup of coffee and converse eye-to-eye and face-to-face! While all these media options may be extremely social, I’m not convinced that there is much about them that is genuinely relational!

  3. Don Zimmermann June 7, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    After 40 years in a pulpit ministry I am finally starting to feel free of the acceptance and preformance traps. Yesterday I sat holding my newborn grandson (my 12th) and just enjoying and loving him. It was as if Father spoke to my heart saying, “this is what I really wanted to share with you all along”. I think I have been looking for God in all the wrong places for to long.

  4. Don Zimmermann June 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    After 40 years in a pulpit ministry I am finally starting to feel free of the acceptance and preformance traps. Yesterday I sat holding my newborn grandson (my 12th) and just enjoying and loving him. It was as if Father spoke to my heart saying, “this is what I really wanted to share with you all along”. I think I have been looking for God in all the wrong places for to long.

  5. Roger Lansdell June 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Last week my mother shared something that fits in here. She had just heard a news reporter reporting about spending the morning with Admiral Thad Allen who is working on the oil spill clean up in the gulf. One of the reporters questions was about how the Admiral dealt with the criticism when he was working so hard to try to make things better. His answer: ” I am very careful who I let rent space in my head.”

    Good advice!

  6. Roger Lansdell June 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Last week my mother shared something that fits in here. She had just heard a news reporter reporting about spending the morning with Admiral Thad Allen who is working on the oil spill clean up in the gulf. One of the reporters questions was about how the Admiral dealt with the criticism when he was working so hard to try to make things better. His answer: ” I am very careful who I let rent space in my head.”

    Good advice!

  7. Lee Kern June 8, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I loved this blog. Over a period of several months God has been healing my heart of needing affirmation from others. I had this compulsion when I received a fresh insight from the Lord I had to share it with someone else. Then when they did not respond how I hoped they would I was greatly disappointed. Now I am at rest and when Father gives me a fresh revelation that He loves me or He spontaneously fills me with joy I am content to keep it to myself. From this I sense that He is wanting to share these moments just with me. It is like our little secret. I keep thinking over a period of time it will just spill over to others without me trying. However, whatever He wants I am content to let Him unfold it for me.

    Thanks Wayne, I am beginning to understand that the Transition from inside the four walls to just being with Him takes time and I am OK with that. Oh, His love is so good!!!

  8. Lee Kern June 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I loved this blog. Over a period of several months God has been healing my heart of needing affirmation from others. I had this compulsion when I received a fresh insight from the Lord I had to share it with someone else. Then when they did not respond how I hoped they would I was greatly disappointed. Now I am at rest and when Father gives me a fresh revelation that He loves me or He spontaneously fills me with joy I am content to keep it to myself. From this I sense that He is wanting to share these moments just with me. It is like our little secret. I keep thinking over a period of time it will just spill over to others without me trying. However, whatever He wants I am content to let Him unfold it for me.

    Thanks Wayne, I am beginning to understand that the Transition from inside the four walls to just being with Him takes time and I am OK with that. Oh, His love is so good!!!

  9. Heatheraglow June 10, 2010 at 7:46 am

    This really gets to the heart of things! I started my blog shortly after leaving the “system”. I did it for two reasons, 1. I needed process my journey & 2. I thought there were others who felt the way I did. As I got into it, I found that it became a laborious chore to write an entry 3 or 4 times a week. The reason it became a laborious chore to me was because I had stopped writing from my heart and began writing for an audiance.
    When I realized this, I stepped back and decided not to write unless I was inspired to do so. That lead to very little writing for a period, but what a relief that was!!!
    =)
    Thanks for the post!

  10. Heatheraglow June 10, 2010 at 10:46 am

    This really gets to the heart of things! I started my blog shortly after leaving the “system”. I did it for two reasons, 1. I needed process my journey & 2. I thought there were others who felt the way I did. As I got into it, I found that it became a laborious chore to write an entry 3 or 4 times a week. The reason it became a laborious chore to me was because I had stopped writing from my heart and began writing for an audiance.
    When I realized this, I stepped back and decided not to write unless I was inspired to do so. That lead to very little writing for a period, but what a relief that was!!!
    =)
    Thanks for the post!

  11. Joshua Rogers June 13, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Wayne, here’s the product of my weeklong fast from blogging: (1) this article (http://spiritualklutz.blogspot.com/2010/06/i-want-to-be-christian-celebrity-when-i.html); and (2) I’m killing the Facebook fan page for my blog. It was poisoning my ability to just enjoy sharing insights without wondering how many people were approving of my blog.

    Life’s too short, and I just want to write my dinky blog and love my family and the people God has placed in my life. Thanks for speaking into my life. I’m sort of a mess a lot of the time, but I’m getting more comfortable as I rest in God’s arms and make breaks with my approval-driven tendencies.

  12. Joshua Rogers June 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Wayne, here’s the product of my weeklong fast from blogging: (1) this article (http://spiritualklutz.blogspot.com/2010/06/i-want-to-be-christian-celebrity-when-i.html); and (2) I’m killing the Facebook fan page for my blog. It was poisoning my ability to just enjoy sharing insights without wondering how many people were approving of my blog.

    Life’s too short, and I just want to write my dinky blog and love my family and the people God has placed in my life. Thanks for speaking into my life. I’m sort of a mess a lot of the time, but I’m getting more comfortable as I rest in God’s arms and make breaks with my approval-driven tendencies.

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