I was just talking with a friend of mine who told me that traffic is down on his blog, and he’s considering throwing in the towel. I encouraged him to stick with it because I really believe his voice matters. I hope he sticks with it.
But it got me thinking about how often I consider throwing in the towel too.
I’ve been pretty fortunate for most of my blogging “career.” I haven’t taken too much criticism. But recently I’ve taken a few punches to the gut. They were the kind of punches that have made me really second guess whether I should even be in the ring. Am I ready? Does my voice matter?
I spoke recently at a local event about my experience leading the Help One Now Haiti Bloggers, and how we used stories and technology to make a difference in hundreds (if not thousands) of lives. We had some technology challenges (like the projector not being there), but I felt like we recovered with a good solution (I was able to get everyone access to my slides on their mobile devices). Overall, I felt like it went really well. That is until I got this review on the event on Meetup.com:
Presentation was below vapid, absolutely no content, Speaker did not have projector ready, did not speak well. Did not even share concrete thoughts about creating content, and absolutely no hint of technology development. It was an insult.
Not long after that, I got my first negative review on The Unlikely Missionary over on Amazon. Personally, I think he missed the intent of much of the book, but this part just about knocked the breath out of me:
The author’s pedestrian story telling caused me to contemplate putting the book down on several occasions. Dan’s perspective and experiences are not unique and hardly warranted the writing of a book.
All of this coming during a time when I’m launching Activist Faith: From Him and For Him. And right on the heels of me going out and asking some important people I know to endorse the book. We had some really great endorsements coming in, until one friend told me that he couldn’t endorse it. He said there were some things in it that he didn’t completely agree with. Not horrible stuff, just stuff that would put him a tricky situation with some others if his name was associated with the book.
And actually, I kind of agree with him. Not to run off on a rabbit trail, but I don’t always agree 100% with my co-authors on the topics we discuss in the book. But I’m also glad that we’re sitting at the table together having these conversations.
So here I am. I’m at a time in my life where I’m seeing some of my best personal and professional growth and success. And I’m considering throwing in the towel.
I remember one of those “conversations with God” I had several years ago when I was getting discouraged as a new blogger. I was discouraged because I felt like I had important things to say, but my 15-20 hits per day weren’t indicating that I was making any impact.
While praying about this situation and considering what to do, I felt like God was asking me, “Would you still write it even if nobody read it at all?”
In one of those moments where I say the right thing that I believe God wants to hear, I responded with, “Of course I would, God! You are the reason I do it, and if You are happy with it, then I’ll continue no matter what… even if no one else ever reads it.”
As I pondered this conversation, I started to think about a couple things that have fueled me for a long time (and still do).
Don’t ever let anything… self-doubt, blog traffic numbers, hater-criticism… NOTHING should ever stop you from sharing the story that God puts on your heart and of what He’s doing in your life.
You don’t have to look far into the Bible to see people who waited a long time and/or endured great trials in order to carry out God’s will for their life. There will be hits, sometimes hard ones. Get up, and go back at it. With Him in our corner, how can we lose?
Sorry, that’s the sound of the next round starting. I’ve gotta go…
My prayer today is this: Lord, give me the strength to go another round. Give me the strength to take the hits, and the endurance to stay in the fight. May I not get distracted or thrown off my game. And may the only thing that towel gets used for is when You wipe the sweat off my brow before sending me back into the ring for the next round. Amen.