Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. 1Co 8:13
For the last few weeks I took part in a writers’ challenge in Facebook called Intentional Blogging, hosted by a writer called Jeff Goins. I am going to use this challenge to illustrate one aspect of Paul’s words and what they can mean in a modern world that does not care about meat sacrificed to idols any longer. Or when did you ask your butcher last time which God he had prayed to when blessing the beef steak you just bought?
How I got to know Jeff
I have „known“ Jeff for quite a while now. Actually, I do not remember how I found out about him, but I signed up for the first Tribe Writers’ course ever, just never made it into the interactive part due to time differences as I live in Switzerland. I read Jeff’s books, and especially „Wrecked“ moved me. In January, I participated in the „My 500 words“ challenge that was designed to create a habit in writers to write at least 500 words daily. Did I succeed? Let me put it this way: I write much more consistently than before. And I use Jeff’s Tribe theme on my blog.
Control freak and introvert
Why do I tell you all this?
I am an Introvert. Capital I. Most people would not believe that, because I have learned to meet people and socialize. God gave me a heart for people that lets me overcome my limitations. Still I need time alone to recuperate. Often. Extensively.
I used to have a strategy for being around people, and sometimes revert to it still. I took control. Thus I was the one guy talking, setting the topic, leading the conversation that surely was in constant danger to divert into a monologue.
If you now expect me to tell you how the challenge got me out of this—no, it did not. It is not that easy. I have never met Jeff in person, and so far our relationship has been fairly unidirectional—me profiting from his writing and teaching. But I usually read on my own.
So was it writing then that got me out of my isolation even in crowds? Not really either. Writing fits my way of taking control perfectly—I do not even have to leave my desk to do so.
I was changed through other relationships. Pursuing Jesus and his call to become a teacher of the body of Christ, of all things, changed it all for me. God gave me real people to connect with and to build relationships of mutual trust. Few at a time, so I could grow.
Most valuable take-away
OK, you say, get to the point. Where does the challenge fit into all this?
It serves for position-fixing. Let me explain.
Before the challenge I saw social media fit for broadcasting my blog posts. I did not want to participate in lol-cat distribution, private communications held in public, broadcasts of trivialities and shame, never to be sure what kind of inappropriate content would hit me next.
I still don’t, but I have learned the value of private groups built for and destined to learn from each other.
Guided by the daily assignments of the challenge, the conversations with other bloggers were focused and valuable. Their feedback on my writing, reading their posts and giving my thoughts became the most valuable take-away for me. And I was able to enhance the readers’ experience with my blog greatly. So I hope. If not, tell me.
But I found out my limits as well. That is were the position-fixing part becomes real.
I am a writer. And I am a teacher in a local church and, through my blog, potentially everywhere. I have been wrecked, just as Jeff has been wrecked in Spain. I have to teach, in time and out of time, give out the old and the new. This puts on me a great responsibility.
Christianity is not a set of rules to follow. It is not a religion with laws set in stone and duties to keep and works to undertake. It is relationship. The ten commandments are guidelines for a happy life together. Together with God and others. And as we are told in Jeremiah, in the new covenant the law has been written on our hearts, not on stone tablets any longer. For the Spirit led, they have become a desire instead of a must.
„Am I my brother’s keeper?“ Cain asked. An age old question, and Paul would even abstain from freedom he had to keep others save.
I am a brother, a teacher, but even more, I am a son of God and a father to some. I take part in the most valuable and oldest relationship there is, the relationship between a father and a son that started with God as Father and Son. A mature son represents the father in authority, just as Jesus did with his father.
This puts a lot of responsibility upon the shoulders of fathers. They have to keep a watch on their lives, as people watch their lives closely.
So I learned my limit. As harmless and innocent as it seems, and for many it truly is, I am not free to guest post and link share with people I have no relationship with. And I am speaking of true relationship.
I learned a lot about writing and tribe building in the challenge, and I am very thankful for this. The inputs are most valuable, even those about guest posting. Jeff’s heart to help others is a great gift. I pushed through some limitations of mine. I even found my limits. And maybe, they are not set in stone either.
Guard your relationships. Remember that you will give credibility to people you connect to—they will profit and draw from the trust you built. You owe it to the people that trust you to guard their hearts. Thus, in the spirit of Paul I say:
Therefore, if content or life style might make my brother stumble, I will rather not connect, guest post, link share with people I do not know personally, lest I make my brother stumble.
What do you think? Do you have some relationships you have to review? Who are you responsible for? And what about your internet policies?