Reaching one person at a time

It’s no secret that publishers like authors to have large platforms (which simply means they want us to have a large sphere of influence—through social media and other channels—being able to reach as many people as possible). I’ve been making myself crazy trying to meet—or exceed—their expectations. See, I was that annoying student in school who couldn’t just take a multiple-choice test. I had to write an essay in the margins explaining why B and C were both actually legitimate answers, but that I knew they were looking for B because of thus-and-so. If a book report was due, I designed a full-color book cover to go with it. I didn’t try to be annoying—it came naturally to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not in my nature to under-achieve. I want to go above and beyond. And I’m doing everything I can possibly do, and the numbers aren’t where they’re supposed to be. I’m tired of thinking about it, and I know my friends are tired of hearing about it. As I was venting to another writer the other night, she reminded me that numbers aren’t everything. That not everyone reads blogs. That there are other ways to sell books. And that if God put me here, He will make it happen, no matter what I do. In spite of what I do.

And I really know that. I do. But I’ve been feeling disappointed in myself for not being able to make this happen faster. (Yes, I know: I cannot make it happen. Only God can. I get it. I’m hopeless.)

Tonight as I ate dinner, I was reading a book called Wherever the River Runs by Kelly Minter. And these words shouted to me from the page:

“…The saving knowledge of Jesus is not for the masses but for the individual,
which eventually makes up the masses.”

If you know me, you know that I’m not one who jumps and shouts at ballgames (or at church). But my little soul was whoopin’ and hollerin’ as the full truth of that expanded inside my heart. Jesus didn’t spread His message like we would suggest today—with blog posts and followers and pre-made tweets. He didn’t go on national news networks. There had to be more efficient ways to get His message to the masses. But, as you’ve heard me say before, He liked to do things upside down. He was busy—so He spent hours in prayer. He came to save the world, so He met with people one on one. And not through social media. Nicodemus wasn’t born again as the result of a powerful podcast, and Jesus didn’t text Zaccheus, “Get out of that tree. I’m coming to your house.”

Jesus stopped to talk with the Samaritan woman at the well. To Mary and Martha. To the adulterous woman. Even when He was in a crowd, He saw individuals—the blind men outside Jericho, the woman with the issue of blood, the paralytic lowered through the roof. He fed the masses, but He never neglected the individuals.

I’ve always believed Jesus came to give us the gift of relationship. To forge a bond with each of us, one person at a time, according to our own personalities and experiences. It is only when that connection is in place that truths are revealed. That change happens. That lives are changed.

And when I read what Kelly Minter wrote, I suddenly understood this blog thing in a new way, one I recognize as truth. Even though I’d love to have thousands of followers, even though it would be exciting to have a blog post go viral, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about connection. Relationship. It’s about the private messages on Facebook from women I barely know, sharing stories of their experiences. It’s about people responding when I ask if I can pray for them by pouring out their hearts in emails. It’s about being stopped on the street by a friend to talk about prayer, or meeting someone for coffee and talking about God.

Blogging is about letting myself be known as a way to invite you into my life.

I couldn’t articulate it before, but now I see that this is why, a couple months ago, I started writing the names of every new blog subscriber in the back of my journal. Because the individuals matter. Because I can run my finger down the list in prayer, asking for blessings for Kara and Dixie and Donna and Mark. Giving thanks for the people I’ve never met who took the time to subscribe. A friend tells me her mom, who I’ve never met, comments on every post as though she knows me. I hear stories about people sharing posts with their friends. These are the moments that bring tears to my eyes. The moments in which I raise my hands towards the sky. The moments I let my ego disappear and bow in humility before the One who lets me write. That’s the reason I’m here.

So if you read this, please know that you matter. “You” singularly and specifically, not “you” as in the plural masses. I’m not a huge online personality, and I may never be. I am real. And I am flawed and insecure and outspoken and occasionally self-centered and sometimes way off base. But I love God, I really do. I try to be authentic and true in every single word I write. And one of my favorite roles in this life is to be a friend.

I hope you’ll let me be one of yours. And I promise not to keep track of how many of you there are. Because I finally get it. To tell the truth, I’ve always known. This is why the numbers thing has been such a struggle for me. People are not numbers. Each person brings something different, something unique, into my life. I want the personal connections way more than I want to reach an arbitrary number. I let myself get distracted by the overachiever in me, the student who won’t settle for just 100%. I’m sorry.

Lord, thank You for Your revelation. I had it backwards. Upside-down, if you will. People are not the means to an end (and the book is not the end). Instead, the book is a method by which I can reach people, find new relationships. One at a time.

No more numbers talk from now on. Only people. And the one and only You. Amen.

7 Responses to “Reaching one person at a time”

  1. So TRUE, Kelly! I love how beautifully you convey simple truths that we all need to remember!

  2. Jama Bigger says:

    Yes. I know where you’re coming from. And I love these words: “And one of my favorite roles in this life is to be a friend.” Thanks for your writing which always ministers to me.

  3. Donna says:

    Kelly, I read your blog, but until tonight never went to the trouble of actually subscribing. (Not that it’s hard.) This particular post really connected with me. You “get” what it’s like to be human. You inspire me.

  4. Sharon says:

    I love this post, Kelly.
    I’m sending it on to someone else I think might resonate with it.
    Thank you for your transparency and reminders of the truth.

    Sharon

  5. kris says:

    Oh Kelly!
    I battle the “numbers” myself and with my husband as well.
    This year I gave up on trying to write anything other than what I want. I’m not even checking the analytics on my blogs.
    As a couple, the hubs and I know that pastoring a church is all about the people…individuals with their own unique needs. Even so, the easiest way to “know” that we are a “success” is in the numbers. Is the church growing? How many were in Sunday School? Was the sanctuary full? How many visitors did we have?
    The problem with this is the huge temptation to water down the Truth, amp up the music, and “tickle the ears” in order to get the numbers. I am thankful that my sweet husband keeps his eyes on Jesus and realizes over and over again that the Gospel is the most important thing…People need Jesus.
    You encourage me more than you can imagine with your writing and your struggles. I know that I am not alone in that. Please don’t fall into the “numbers” pit. Its just one more way for Satan to distract you. We need you to just be you.
    Follow hard after Jesus and He will take care of everything else.
    Praying for you always!
    K

    • Kris, thank you for your encouragement! I flipped back through my journal and saw a prayer I wrote in Dec. 2013 about the same thing. Apparently, I’m slow to learn this lesson. I’m trying to trust Him to do this HIS way, not mine. Because He always does what’s right. And I’ll keep trying to keep my eyes on Him, not on my site stats :-).

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