Overwhelmed by “Helpful”-ness
Almost every day I read blogs. Some days more time is spent browsing than others, because I do have a job and a family. But at a very minimum I visit Tim Challies for his daily A La Carte, and usually I’ll peruse several others as well. Nothing however, like David Murray’s blog reading list, which completely blew my mind. (How do you have time for that?) And for the most part, I really enjoy this little routine. The ability to tap into so many diverse and creative minds on a daily basis is truly awesome. But I’ve noticed something that has begun to creep in on me as I click away every day.
Besides Challies’ daily summary of his good finds, many other bloggers also make it a routine of linking to other bloggers’ articles. Some have daily recommended reading lists, others have weekly wrap-ups, and yet others do it on a more ad hoc basis. Regardless, it is not uncommon to find numerous bloggers habitually linking to the same authors and vice versa. While this practice seems at times to create a sort of self-licking ice cream cone, it’s for good reason: there are good writers out there with things to say – mind you, “helpful” things to say.
Almost without fail, amongst all the circular referencing, I find the articles being described as “helpful.” For example, “I found this to be a helpful article concerning the wrath of God.” It is here that I’ve begun to notice and quite frankly, be affected by this seemingly innocent word. Again and again, day after day, I am confronted with an excess of helpful “ideas” and “suggestions” and “ways of thinking” and on and on it goes. I feel at times as if I’m being overloaded with “helpful”-ness. What once was a fun and informative way of “staying informed” in the circles of thought which I am interested in, has become a daily “keeping up” and even burden to take all the helpfulness on board. Read more, do more, be more… It has a certain pharisaical feel to it all.
I will admit that I may be the only one who has had these thoughts. But I have a feeling there are others who consciously or unconsciously experience an urge to stay current on all of the trending helpfulness. At the same time, I don’t want to diminish the undeniable positive effects the Christian blogging world has had since its inception. There have certainly been posts that I have found to be profound and utterly helpful; ones that I can walk away with and apply to my life on an ongoing basis. The fact that I myself am writing this on my own Christianity-themed blog is itself testimony to what I think can be a positive medium for the faith.
With all of this said, and at the risk of attempting to be helpful, I have had to remind myself of a few things to make sure I can continue reading blogs without feeling overloaded.
1) The cross of Christ freed, continues to free, and will in the future keep me free from having to add one iota of anything to what God accomplished to magnify His name and reconcile me to Himself. I could never read another blog post again for all eternity and I will still be just as redeemed and righteous through Christ’s imputed righteousness as I am at this very moment. Simply amazing.
2) My everyday priorities are and should remain to be God, my wife, my children, my job… and near the end of that list is reading blogs. Meaning, these priorities should be reflected in how I manage my time and efforts on a daily basis.
3) With the first two in mind, I am free to search out meaningful and yes, helpful, brothers and sisters in Christ who through the medium of the blogosphere, can come along beside me and help sharpen my ever persistent rough and sinful edges. The phrase “eat the meat, spit out the bones” is certainly applicable. There is no need to feel overwhelmed.