I clicked open the stats for the article I had written the day before, excited to see how many people had read the post. When I saw the number, my mood immediately dropped. Five. Five people in more than 24 hours had read the words I had been excited to share. Looking at how many times people had viewed the post on social media feeds, the numbers told me 300 people had passed it by, while only five had actually clicked.
Was my headline not catchy enough? Did the description not create curiosity? Are people tired of my articles and ignore them regardless of what the title says?
I honestly have felt really encouraged lately with the growth of To Unearth. It’s only been five months, and I have received very encouraging feedback from readers. For the most part, each week our followers grow. Our numbers have been increasing, not decreasing. But very, very slowly, I might add.
Sharing some vulnerability
I’m OK with slow growth. I never expected this website to blast off with hundreds of subscribers within the first month. Yes, I knew it would prove difficult to rise above all the other websites and blogs out there that offer faith-based articles and devotionals. I realized I would have to be a jack-of-all-trades with branding, SEO, writing, editing, photography, and the list goes on from there.
Nearly 100 percent of the time, I love all aspects of this job. But I wanted to share my vulnerability with you today. It’s days like the one I just described when I feel really discouraged and wonder if I’m doing any of this right. I consider the possibility that God told me to begin this website in order to teach me about failure.
These aren’t words to induce pity or trap anyone into feeling like they have to respond to articles or read every single one. Goodness, I don’t even read half the article on pages I’ve liked. My point with sharing my vulnerability is to encourage you. Here are a few reasons we don’t need to be discouraged when it feels like we’re failing at something God told us to do.
My success does not look like God’s success
I have full confidence God directed me toward creating and managing To Unearth. The question I struggle with is why. On days with few article views and even less engagement on social media, I feel as if I will never succeed.
God nudges me in those moments, though. He reminds me culture has shaped my version of success. When I think of To Unearth doing well, I think of subscribers increasing, followers commenting and sharing on social media and an audience wanting devotionals even if they have to pay for them.
As I think about my version of success, I can almost hear God’s laughter and His voice saying, “Seriously? That’s what you consider successful?” Truth be told, I have no idea what “success” is for God in this situation. Which means I should not feel discouraged when things aren’t going the way I thought they would or as fast as I would like them to go. Instead, I should sit tight and continue obeying Him.
Whatever you are facing and whatever circumstances are causing you to feel like you’re failing, know God probably has something in mind that you haven’t even thought of yet. Your version of success does not look like His version most days. Remind yourself that all He asks of you is obedience. He doesn’t ask for the measurement of success based on culture.
If I’m encouraging at least one person
I grow frustrated and disappointed when I see low numbers on my site states and zero comments on social media. Quickly forgetting the reason behind why I write in those moments, I give into discouragement.
Then I remind myself: I write because I love to encourage people. I love sharing stories and God’s truth. And I’ve always said if just one person feels uplifted from what I write, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do for that article.
When I give into those woe-is-me feelings, I’m saying those few people who read my words aren’t worth it. All I can think about is why more people didn’t read. In those moments, I’m not thinking how wonderful it is that people felt encouraged. Or at least one person, maybe. Without realizing it, I have told myself those few readers don’t mean anything. It’s hard to admit, because it sounds pretty harsh.
I remind myself again and again, though, that I’ve done my job if just one person feels encouraged. And most times I believe it. The other times are quickly followed by a prayer asking God to help me in my selfishness and pride.
Whatever you’re doing that feels pointless, know God is most likely using you to encourage others. Even if it’s just one person, it’s worth it. Using your gifts for God doesn’t always mean amazing success at every turn. It means putting aside pride and using your time to bless others, even when “others” is just “one other.” It’s always worth it.
I don’t know the end goal
Similar to not fully grasping what God’s success is, I don’t know where exactly To Unearth is headed. I’m not sure if this will turn into a huge hit and I will eventually make money from this endeavor. Maybe it’s a stepping stone, and I’ll make connections through this process that will land me a different full-time journalism job. It’s also a possibility it will fizzle in the next year, and I’ll move on to freelance writing full-time. Only God knows.
When I begin to sink in the worries and fears that I might “fail” with this, I remind myself of God’s hand in it all. He guided me here, and He means me no harm. Even if it all comes crashing down around me, I don’t need to fear, because I’ll still stand in God’s grace. What could be more important?
So I put aside the pride that comes with wondering what the end goal is with this website. I will continue to put in the work and diligence to create quality articles and an attractive website, but I know wherever this takes me, God has a purpose for it. A purpose in it turning into something more permanent or a purpose in it fading away for something else. He uses all things for His glory.
I encourage you to put aside your pride, too. We’re commanded to work at all we do as if we’re working for the Lord, so setting aside pride doesn’t mean not caring about your work or doing well at your job. It means letting go of the concern that you will look bad or receive judgement if you don’t succeed or continue moving up the food chain with whatever you do.
Remember, God’s plans succeed over ours. His will be done. And His will might look a lot different from what you’re picturing. So don’t feel discouraged or fill your mind with worry. Trust that God has a purpose for all things.
So there it is. My (hopefully) encouragement in the face of vulnerability. Know you’re not the only one who worries about success and end goals. Know if you encourage at least one person, it’s worth it. Because maybe they don’t have anyone else encouraging them. Or maybe you’re the only one who can reach them through what you’re doing.
At the end of the day, here’s what’s important: Following God in the face of uncertainty, and remembering He has a purpose for you and for what He has called you to accomplish.
Let’s Talk About It: Do you need encouragement? How can you trust God has a purpose for your work?