On having an area of influence and not comparing yourself with others

On having an area of influence and not comparing yourself with others September 29, 2012

I continue to update the “Top 100 list of Christian blogs ranked by Twitter followers” which looks like it will soon be renamed the Top 200!  As well as looking at the list on this site, you can subscribe to it on Twitter, or go through the list there and follow the people that look interesting.  I am still looking for any I have missed, but to get into the Top 100 it now seems you need at least 2,000 followers!

But what of you? Were you pleased to be included? Disappointed that I somehow missed you? Upset that I hadn’t heard of you yet? Sad as you watched yourself slip ever further down the rankings as more people got added? Proud that you made the list at all? Jealous of that person above you on the list? Dismissive of the one lower down?  If so beware!

I thought that Tope Koleoso (who is my pastor and helps me to handle myself properly in all this) wrote a very challenging Tweet for all of us, whether what we think we have built is a church we pastor or a Twitter following:

“In ministry, Beware thinking,”This G8 Babylon which I built with my own hands”, lest you be suspended from humanity by the Almighty. Daniel 4″

We didn’t build anything with our own strength! God will not be mocked and he will not share his glory with another.

Hopefully this post will help all of us as we deal with the potential negative side effects of looking at such a list.  To be honest, the value of these lists is not in the precise rankings anyway, it is instead in helping us find other blogs to follow (in this case via their Twitter feeds) so that we will learn from them.

I thought that a blogger called Kelly in a comment she made on Facebook about all this was spot on: “I was just today reading chapter 5 of Tony Dungy’s book “The Mentor Leader” in which he says a lot great things, but encourages people to realize that everyone has a sphere of influence that is unique to him or her, and that “the focus of a mentor leader is on adding value to people’s lives” (p. 101).”

Adding value. That is critical. Do we blog or Tweet to get ahead of others? Shame on us! Do we do it to help others? Then we are fulfilling a call that God has placed on all of us to freely receive and freely give. But whether we are talking about online or offline God has assigned us all a sphere of influence. We should not despise it and run away from it, but nor should we hold on to it and desperately seek to grow it or jealously eye someone else’s.  Nor, incidentally, should you allow the outer limits of your area of influence  distract you from focussing on your real-life friends and family who need you more than we do online.  Nor should we be foolish and forget that there are many others also doing their part to help their own spheres of influence.

I have been convinced for a long that these spheres of influence often don’t overlap as much as we think they do, and I only recently found an excellent tool to demonstrate this.  We therefore do really well to highlight other bloggers online and point our readers to them, sharing specific insights, or just urging people to read everything someone else writes.  You are a steward of the influence that God has allowed others to have over you.  Will you hide your sources and try to look smarter than you really are? Or will you act as a signpost, pointing to resources you genuinely believe have more to offer than yourself?  It is that signposting that has made bloggers like Tim Challies and Justin Taylor so useful to so many.  God may not have called you to be the next top blogger, but he has called you to influence a few people, make sure you influence them to also read others!

Every blogger would do well to read and meditate on these words from Paul in 2 Corinthians 10 which are clearly so very applicable to us today, especially as we look at lists that rank bloggers:

12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

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