It’s Not About Numbers

By my calculations, my blog (both this and my original Blogger site) has been viewed over 70,000 times. As far as my guest posts go, I have no idea. But just as a rough guess, I would wager my writing has been viewed 150,000 times. That may seem like a lot, but the most popular blogs average that many views or more A DAY. Those 150,000 (possible) views have been over 3 years of work and over 100 posts. Not a good ratio.

I have 558 followers on Twitter. That is roughly 0.00021% of Twitter’s entire user base of 250 million people. To put that in another perspective, 558 is 0.0000079% of the world’s estimated population of 7 billion.

I have 173 followers on Instagram, which is only 0.000086% of it’s 200 million users.

I think you get the idea of how the numbers are not exactly inspiring.

Instagram (and social media as a whole) is often a two-edged sword whenever it comes to the mood it will create within you. Sometimes you open it up to see a new baby, the latest engagement announcement, or mission trip/travel experience and feel genuinely happy for your friends. On the other hand, you may see the exact same things and feel bitter, left out, and unimportant.

“Everyone is getting married and having kids, and I’m still single. What is wrong with me?”

“I’ve never been able to go overseas and serve. Why won’t God use me that way?”

“I wish I could travel the world. I guess my life isn’t exciting enough…”

These kind of feelings are not rare. We all want to feel important, dynamic, and well-versed. We all want to travel, find love, do great things for God and others. The great mistake we make is thinking we aren’t as valuable if we have the “social media-worthy” life, and this simply isn’t true. Accolades and recognition do not equal a meaningful existence. It’s often the quiet things that are the most lasting. There is something beautiful in the dad who leads by example and works hard to provide for his kids, or the student who reaches out to the outcast in the cafeteria.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:17-18 ESV) Basically he’s saying we miss the point if we do things for the approval of others first. Often the most meaningful things we do will only be seen by God, and for some reason this doesn’t seem good enough. Now, for many of us, anything that gets less than 20 “likes” feels like a failure. I think we often try too hard to please people before we try to please God, and this is a trap I’ve fallen into time and time again. We aren’t always going to please everyone, or be a social media superstar, but we can always be a child of God, because our God is not fickle in his ways toward us. It’s not the number of “good” things that make us, it’s our HEART that makes us, and that heart can only be remade by someone far more powerful than you (hint: it’s God).

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers. It’s even easier to let the numbers discourage you. But it takes real courage to pull a Han Solo and fly the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field and scream, “Never tell me the odds!” Who cares about the numbers? If one Millennium Falcon can make it through an asteroid field and eventually help save the galaxy, then one thing done out of love for another can hit the mark as well. Who cares if you don’t receive any praise for it? Studies show that this generation’s main want in life is to become famous, and I feel like we’re losing the ability to be satisfied with doing good work just for the sake of doing good work.

It takes courage to be satisfied with not getting a lot of recognition. God’s approval (at least in my personal experience) is often subtle and silent, wrapped within things we may not immediately recognize or even be aware of until later on down the line. We need to remember that God’s approval is far more meaningful than a retweet. Mark Twain once said, “It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them”, and I desire and pray to have the courage to be satisfied if that happens to be my lot in life.

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