I’ve been thinking a little lately about blogging. I wrote a while back on humility as it relates to blogging, but I’ve had some further thoughts on the subject. Blogging, it seems to me, is neither good nor bad. It is a neutral field that can be used for either good or bad ends. It thus takes discernment and careful thought to blog in a distinctly Christian manner. From a quick and under-developed look at the evangelical blogosphere, I think it’s clear that many of us need to think more about how we blog, myself included.
1. Be careful about narcissism. A friend of mine, a wise and godly Christian, often states his belief that blogging is fundamentally narcissistic. I do not agree that any and all blogging is narcissistic, though I do think that he has an important point that all bloggers should consider. It is easy to construct a blog that promotes oneself and that makes much of oneself. Constantly referencing what we do, who we are, and who we know shows that our blogging is not primarily glorifying God, but ourselves. In such a situation, though we may have some good content, we’re dishonoring God. As Christians, we’re not to tirelessly promote ourselves. We do all represent ourselves publicly, of course, and it is no bad thing to point readers to our writings, but we’ve got to be really careful that our blogs are not propelled by narcissism and filled full of hot air by our own egos. I would encourage bloggers like myself to continually take stock of themselves, to continually ask whether their writing is narcissistic, arrogant, self-promoting, and self-glorifying. Do you regularly reference yourself and your accomplishments? Does your stat counter consume much of your mental attention? Are you jealous of other bloggers who have a greater readership than you do? Is your blog more about you than it is about God? Watch out for narcissism, and head it off wherever you can, in order that Christ might be revealed more and more in your writing.
2. Make your blog about ideas. I know that some people have blogs to communicate with family and friends, and that obviously changes things. I do sometimes wonder about the appropriateness of making such a private thing–communication between family/friends–so public. That aside, I do think that one way we Christian bloggers can avoid narcissism is to make our blogs about ideas, not about ourselves. We will of course state our own opinions and thoughts, and our blogs will be driven by our own agendas, but in discussing ideas, we can do alot to steer ourselves away from narcissism, and we can do much to create meaningful, edifying discussion among brothers and sisters–and others.
3. Watch out that you’re not contributing to a culture of amateurs. There’s a good new book on this, The Cult of the Amateur, by Sam Keen. I highly recommend that every single evangelical blogger read it in order to rightly structure their posture toward their reading audience, whether that audience is 10 people or 10,000. Ten readers of your blog means ten people you’re influencing in a direct way each day. Though that may not seem like much in the way of stewardship, I assure you, that is a good deal of influence, relatively speaking, especially when you consider that having that kind of blog is like giving a speech to ten people each day. The reason that this is important is because many of us bloggers are not qualified to have a great deal of influence on many matters. Just because you have a solid blog and can write provocatively on evangelical matters does not mean that you are qualified to help people choose their presidential candidate, for example. It is my belief that we should be careful about such matters, especially when we’re young. We need to know our strengths and play to them, in order that we would not be a bunch of amateurs posing as professionals. There will be blurry lines in this discussion, of course, but I think it’s a good thing to ask ourselves, Am I an amateur posing as an expert? Do I bloviate on things I don’t know much about? Does my writing subtly undermine the work done by professionals and those better equipped than me? Do I point people to real resources that will help to settle their questions and form their opinions, or do I act like I’m the authority on things?
4. Remember that blogs aren’t really that significant. It is hugely important to be a member of a church, and to contribute to that church in all kinds of ways. It is hugely important to take on either manhood or womanhood depending on one’s sex, and thus to seek marriage, children, and the establishment of a God-glorifying home. For men, it is hugely important to seek out meaningful, God-honoring work, and to do it hard and well, while for women, it is hugely important to seek to form a home and raise a family, God willing. Such things and others help us to contribute meaningfully to society, another very important thing to consider. These are the things that really matter in life. We should give great attention to them. We should not give great attention to our blogs and sports and pastimes and other things that don’t matter. This is not to say that these things are not gifts from God and good for us to do, but it is to say that we should devote ourselves to things that have lasting significance. In addition, our blogs should not displace the instruction of a local church, or encourage our readers to trust us more than they trust their pastors. We’re going to have to remember often that our blogs can do some good, that they can prove helpful and edifying to others, that they can help to advance the kingdom, but that they are just a tool, albeit a small one, in a world in which the local church is the most important institution of all. Keeping this in mind as we blog will help us to avoid giving too much priority to blogs.
5. Seek accountability in your blogging, like anything else. I need to do more of this myself, but I think it will be helpful for many of us to ask a friend or two to help us in our pursuit of God-glorifying bloging. Ask them to read your blog with some of the above points in mind, or with some you cull from your own reading of Scripture. Scripture, of course, has nothing to say about blogging directly, but it has much to say about it indirectly. Ask a friend to help you apply biblical wisdom to your own blogging. Your writing can be a help to many, it can be an encouragement, it can glorify God, but if it is to do so, you and I will need to approach our writing with care, with thought, with discernment.