By nature I’m a rule follower.
It irks me when people don’t follow the rules – and as a very little kid I made it very clear to my peers.
But lately, I’ve been struggling with keeping up with all the “rules” in my life. Specifically the blogging “rules”. For those of you who aren’t bloggers, the experts have set up quite a few lists of “The Top 9 Things You Must Do To Be a Successful Blogger”. It usually goes something to the tune of:
- Content is King (a.k.a. you have to write killer content at all times!)
- Stick to a Strict Posting Schedule – everyday is best, but if not at least post at the same time and days every week – but don’t forget number 1!
- Every post must have a killer image that goes with your post. You must either take it yourself (best option), find a free one and make sure to properly credit your source so you don’t get sued, or buy it.
- Every post must have a pinnable image. One that’s cute and will entice those browsing on Pinterest to come visit your site, and pin and re-pin your post.
- You must have an attention grabbing headline for every post. This headline MUST be SEO (search engine optimization) inclined – to make sure that Google can find your post.
- SEO every post. Make sure you use keywords throughout your post. Use Header Number 2 with you SEO keywords at least once in the beginning part of your post. Include keywords in the alt tags of all your images.
- Make you posts/blog “sticky” – aka link to other parts of your blog frequently so that your readers “stick” with you and stay on your blog longer. Make sure that each post has a number of links linking to other relative content on your blog.
- Social Media is a must. Share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at a minimum – and make sure that you have a good following there. Frequently engage your readers, host Parties, post pretty pictures, and actively engage your readers.
- Network with other bloggers. Participate in blog hops, linky parties, and roundups. Read and comment on other bloggers’ blogs on a regular basis. And write great guest posts to post on other people’s blogs.
There are more “rules” – but this is the gist, and the consensus that I’ve found the last several months as I’ve tried to build this blog.
I’ve worked hard to follow all of these rules – and many more of the tips I’ve found along the way.
And quite honestly – I’m burned out.
My heart and my passion in writing this blog is first and foremost is to be obedient to God’s calling on my life.
And somewhere in the midst of the “expert” rules – I’ve lost my focus and I’ve struggled to stop and listen to His guidance for this blog.
Yes, the above rules are all good practices. Yes, they can build a great a blog.
However, they are NOT God – they are not the end all authority on my time, energy and talents. And they DO NOT guarantee that this blog will be successful by anyone’s definition.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:13-16 (NIV)
This Scripture was the focus of this week’s sermon (listen here).
As I reflected over this verse and the struggle I’ve been having with finding my focus for my life and blog – I realized I’ve been doing things all wrong.
I’ve allowed selfish ambition to grow in my heart as I’ve read all the ways to make a successful blog – and I’ve said, “I can do that. I can follow the rules!” But the more I’ve followed them, and read all the experts guides and emails filled with rules and tips – the more envy and selfish ambition has crept into my heart. And the more I’ve battled and struggled over everything in life that I’m doing.
I want to do my best for sure – but there is a line in our hearts we can cross. And sometimes making it all about the rules leads us there without even knowing it.
In our strive for perfection by following the rules we can be led astray.
This happens in many other areas of life too. We all have man-made or self-made rules we try to follow. Some quick examples:
No white shoes after Labor Day.
We need to be a size 8 (or is it 6 now?).
Every dinner must be like those on Pinterest.
We must drive nice cars, live in nice houses, have name brand clothes, and all the latest gadgets.
I could list hundreds more that I see play out on a regular basis. We all have rules that we follow – sometimes to our detriment.
“This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Hebrews 8:10
This is my encouragement to you today – and to myself:
Stop following the Rules – Start Following God!
He will lead us to the perfect place (Psalm 23:2).
Are there rules in your life that are keeping you from following Jesus?? What are they and how do you plan to stop following them?