Weekly I’m asked by scores of people to recommend their blog, book, or podcast on my web page. I rarely do that because the shear number of them would make them all eventually meaningless. I trust God to alert me to those things I need to read and I share the ones I think God wants me to pass on.
One brother recently really touched my heart with his passion for a new website, but it seemed he could only see self-promotion as the way to gain an audience. I sensed he was a bit open for me to be really honest with him and to give him another option. I’ve heard back from him since I’ve written this and I have to see I was truly impressed with how graciously he grasped what I was saying and chose to let Jesus make his life available as he desires, rather than struggling in his own human passion to build an audience through self promotion.
Here’s what I wrote him. I thought others who are trying to find an online audience might find it helpful as well:
I’m glad you’re moving forward with some things that are on your heart. If I could, however, let me caution you about the process here. And I do this because I care about you and how you’re moving forward. And it isn’t so much wrong as it’s just the world’s way of doing things—-build an audience by getting people you know to do you a favor while also praying for great success. How do you measure that? By growing “audience share” or website hits?
I love your passion, but I think God would want it more directed at helping people live loved than them helping your website become known. What I love about the Internet is that people see through this pretty quickly and allows organic growth to happen effectively. When people are asked to “like” someone’s post, or pass it on to their friends, it has a strange feel to it. The truth is people will pass it on if they are touched by it. You don’t have to ask them. When people find you engaging, they will read and pass on the things God has put on your heart to share.
Kingdom growth is organic. It isn’t the result of people doing favors for someone they care about. Rather, it’s people trusting that God will take their voice as far as the want it to go. When I first began blogging and writing, it took me a long time to find my “voice.” Was I really communicating the things I wanted to say? Were people touched by it enough to read it or quote it to others? That’s along process and I know of no way to shortcut it. If too many people come to your blog or podcast too soon, they may form an opinion about it that would be totally different two years from now, but by then they are not coming back to read it.
I guess I’m suggesting another way to go here. Write or say what you think God gives you. See how people connect with it. Over the process you’ll find a “voice” that will resonate with people, because you are actually helping them find life in Jesus. When you find that voice people will pass along the website because of their passion for it, not because you asked them to do you a favor. Does that make sense? I know it is disappointing to those who think they have great stuff to say and no one to read it. I’ve been there. I understand that. But promotion shortcuts a better process of God working deeply in the heart as you find how his voice speaks through you.
I actually get hundreds of requests a month to “like” things, or to help promote someone’s book or website. If I did all that was asked at me, no one would have any regard for what I actually want to recommend. When I read things that touch my life and I think valuable for those who frequent my blog, I put them in. But I can’t do it as a personal favor even to people I care about without diluting the value of doing so. I hope you can appreciate that and not read this as being unsupportive of God’s work in your life, but supporting a truer work that I pray will allow you to freely share what God has put on your heart.
There’s a huge difference between self-promotion in hopes of gaining an audience, and making yourself available to the Father to encourage others on their journey. One may make you a sensation for a moment, but only for a very small minority, the other will transform you over a lifetime and your focus will be on loving the next person in front of you, instead of using them to advance your ministry.