Like the businessman whose only measure of success is the bottom line or the pastor who only looks at how many people are in his church's pews, bloggers can also be one-dimensional in gauging the importance of their work. They can see how many hits or Facebook likes a post receives, and then weigh their success or failure. Also, in the speed of light nature of the internet, bloggers can feel that yesterday's blog post is already long forgotten and grow discouraged. That is why it is helpful to see some of the hidden blessings of blogging that often are overlooked.
In pointing out a few of these, perhaps this post is written just to encourage other bloggers including my fellow GenRef Gents. Or maybe those thinking about starting a blog, but hesitant to do so, will find some needed stimulation here. Or though I had actually begun working on this post before I read Tim Challies' article "A Call for Plodding Bloggers" last week, one could consider this article as a further Amen to his call to keep on keeping on. Regardless, after blogging over a number of years, I have enjoyed at least these five blessings in so doing.
Thoughts are clarified. As the old saying goes, "Over the lips and fingertips come clear thoughts." As we discuss ideas and then put them down on paper (or pixels in this case), tangled thoughts become unknotted and disjointed ones strung together. In writing on theological and cultural issues on the blog, I find that I am better suited to articulate my positions in other settings as well.
Camaraderie is developed. Because of this blog, I regularly communicate with and read the thoughts of the other men on Gentle Reformation. As such, I love standing together with them as we seek to represent the truths of God together faithfully. Furthermore, in being a part of the Christian blogosphere, I have been privileged to interact with other like-hearted men and women by linking to their sites (and they to ours), reviewing their books, promoting other ministries, and simply working together to sow wider and further kingdom seeds.
Creativity is cultivated. In putting out your thoughts before others, you begin to realize such things as how easy it is to fall into ruts in your communication or be overly simplistic in your approach to matters. (I do cringe when I look back at certain articles I wrote!) Blogging, over time, widens and deepens creativity by making you meditate longer on subjects you might never normally address and spending time on them as you seek to speak knowledgeably to the issue at hand. Also, you can try on different writing styles, from a more researched article to editorializing to poetry to humor (Understand that I am not saying creativity is achieved, just cultivated!).
Discipline is encouraged. Though not necessarily a reason to begin blogging, once you commit to maintaining a blog you find the self-imposed deadlines build more discipline into your schedule. Your mind and its thoughts begin to be held more captive to the obedience of Christ as you are thinking about how to express yourself in the next post. You become more self-dictatorial on your own writing as you impose the death sentence on rebel commas and miscreant misspellings. Also, as the purpose of this blog is not to create controversy or have a "scorched-earth, take-no-captives" tone, self-control is developed as you seek to learn how to communicate hard truths in a Christ-like way.
A body of work is collected. Surely this is obvious, but still I believe it is worth pointing out that as you write articles, titling and tagging them according to subject, a collection is established over time which becomes searchable. Thus, you can re-use the material in a variety of ways. I have answered questions about such matters as theological subjects, discipleship helps, or marital problems by simply sending a link to an article I or someone else has written. In ministering the word recently, I used a poem I developed from a church father's writing for a sermon, linked some posts on worship for students in a class, and "borrowed" some thoughts from a post I did a few years back for a talk.
Though blogging about blogging can quickly become boring and boorish, every now and then it helps to remember these backside blessings.