I broke my own rule.
It’s one thing to break someone else’s rule. That kind of stinks.
But when you break your own…. dang. It’s just bad form.
Let me explain… I started blogging in 2006. Since that time the blog name has changed a few times and the topics I choose to write about are a little more focused. More than that, the intent of my writing has evolved over the past several years. You learn a few lessons here and there when you throw your thoughts out to the general public. Some people agree with you. Others don’t. Some people share those disagreements respectfully. Others take your thoughts out of context in order to elevate a point they are passionate to prove. I understand. We all want to be heard, don’t we?
The challenge with blogging is that your growth as an individual isn’t always apparent. Unless you were to read my posts consecutively over the past decade, you wouldn’t necessarily see the development. But there has certainly been development.
Some posts I’ve crafted convinced they would inspire conversation yet only fell into obscurity. Other posts I’ve spouted off with no real intention yet they spread virally. I’ve posted things I wish I could use as the standard by which others see me. And I’ve posted things I wish I could retract.
As a writer, I’ve grown to adopt a better ‘filter’ so that no matter the response, I can stand by what I’ve written. It’s a filter that I hope ensures that what I post adds value to readers… and not just a verbal vomit of my random thoughts. Carey Nieuwhof sums it up well with the question, “Is it helpful?”
Is it helpful?
Will the content of the post help someone else to lead better and grow more. Does the post challenge common thinking in a respectful way? Is the tone open? Does it invite challenging perspectives? Or does it shut down all other ideas that might contradict with my own?
Ultimately I want to provoke a conversation. Maybe that conversation is with others on the blog. Maybe that conversation is in your personal or professional circles. Where the conversation happens doesn’t matter to me. I just hope the conversation happens.
Last week I broke my own rule. As the Halloween holiday approached I knew there would be some conversation on social media about the “rights and wrongs” of Christ-followers participating in the festivities. Some years I choose to remain silent on the topic. Some years I venture in and offer my thoughts. This year I entered the conversation… kind of.
Truth be told, I dug into my library of past blog posts and grabbed one I’d written in 2010. I tossed out the link on social media and didn’t give it another thought… until the first comment hit my FB page.
The comment was respectful yet challenged my position. It caught me off-guard. In fact, I had to go back and read the post to find out why the reader disagreed.
Then I realized what I’d done.
I didn’t use my filter.
In 2010 I didn’t have that filter. Not to the extent that I wish I had. If you read several of my posts from that season you would see that too many times my motivation for posting was to prove a point… not to start a conversation. My driving purpose was to share my opinion… not to help other leaders.
In the past 5 years my posture toward if and how Christ-followers participate in holidays such as Halloween hasn’t changed a lot. I’m still passionate about leveraging opportunities to interact with your community. I still love the idea of flipping on that porch light, planting myself at the end of the driveway, passing out candy and meeting people I don’t often see.
However, walking door-to-door through a neighborhood not knowing what to expect at each house as you approach isn’t the best option for every family. Some families need a more controlled environment for their kids. A fun, festive event sans the scary, unnerving costumes. My opinion shouldn’t deter a family from pursuing the best option for their kids.
Nor should my perspective define actions for a ministry leader considering a holiday alternative for families in their community. If the best move for this holiday is to offer an event that families can engage and increase your connection with your community, then you should run with it.
My opinion hasn’t changed. I still lead in this manner. I still want to lead families at my church to engage their neighborhood as often as possible. If a safer, more tame environment is needed then I wholly support their pursuit of local community options that are a better fit. What I regret is the tone of the post.
At the end of the day, if I’d written that post in 2015 it would look different. I’d filter it through that powerful question, “Is it helpful?” Paired with my thoughts would be an open posture towards the differing opinions of others.
Here’s to another lesson learned. 🙂