For several years of blogging I had it all wrong, and I wasn’t wrong only in blogging, but in all of life. I believed that the way to measure success with this blog was to keep an eye on statistics, to measure growth in readership over a period of weeks or months or years, and to do the things that were necessary to stimulate that kind of growth. Where I saw growth in the number of readers I believed I had succeeded and where I saw a drop in the number of readers I believed that I had failed.
But somewhere along the way I came to understand and to reflect on a much bigger and wider principle that applies not only to blogging but to all of life. It is the principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive (see Acts 20:35). This is hardly an obscure passage or a verse that Christians have forgotten about, but it was one that was demanding application in my life. Once I began to ponder and apply it, it completely re-adjusted my evaluation of blogging and called me to re-assess any measure of success. It re-adjusted my evaluation of a lot of life.
For a long time I was stingy in linking to other sites, thinking that in some strange way affirming another person’s success or contribution was lowering my own, as if a vote for them was a vote against me. I suppose this intersects what I have written about in The Lost Sin of Envy. But then I came to see that the most exciting part of having a growing blog is not the growing number of readers but the increased sending capacity. Deeper joy is found in blessing others with readers, in drawing attention to other people’s efforts, than in drawing attention to my own. Where I had once been deliberate in not pointing to other sites and other articles, suddenly I found great joy in it. Buried in a dashboard that collects important statistics related to my site’s health is a little meter that keeps track of how many people have clicked from my site to someone else’s—it is a number that can reach into tens of thousands a day. Few metrics are more encouraging.
Once I saw this principle in effect in something as mundane as a web site, I began to see it elsewhere in my life.
I saw it in my finances when I realized that the joy of a big or overflowing savings account completely pales in comparison to the joy of giving money to those who need it more urgently and who can use it more profitably. If I want to experience joy I will find it more in obedience to God’s commands regarding generosity than in the illusion of financial security or over-abundance. It is far more blessed to give than to receive or to hoard.