In August of 2012, Shawna and I resigned our pastoral positions in Saint Paul, MN and return to Houston, TX. She was offered a pastoral role in a church here and I started working on developing my training and consulting ministry. When we made the decision to move a few months earlier, I immediately started blogging, tweeting and doing other stuff to increase my social presence so that I could let people know what I was doing. For quite a while, I was blogging almost every day and tweeting a ton. I began to follow my stats and to look at my RT rate on twitter. I even got some social media coaching from a friend and my number of Twitter followers soared. The hits of www.mscottboren.com took off. I became "socially significant."
Then in March of this year, something happened. Due to a wild set of circumstances, I entered into what could be called a "dark night of the soul" experience. I began to evaluate everything I was writing. I relooked at old stuff to see if it had value. I asked questions about what I really believed to be true. I had to see if these were my ideas or the ideas of others that I was parroting so that I increase my social klout and get more business. God was taking me into a place that I had never experienced before.
I found that I had little to tweet or blog. I didn't intentionally take a break from social media. It took a break from me. In addition, I was writing a book entitled Difference Makers and I had to meet a deadline. My editor at Baker sent back my first draft and told me that it was not ready to be turned in. I had to do two additional re-writes. This forced me to really hone in on my convictions about the topic of the book. I could not settle for quoting other authors that have influenced me. I had to sit with what I had learned to be true and convey it in a way that reflected my convictions.
Through this experience, I realized that I was "getting life" from the responses people had to my writing, speaking, blogging and tweeting. I found that I was writing out of fear of pleasing others so that I might increase my influence. I was allowing social media was stealing my soul. As I've looked back over my blog posts and tweets from the last 18 months, I've not found much that I would change, although I would change my tone in many places. The main thing that has changed is my motivation for writing.
I'm not doing this to sell myself or sell my ideas anymore. I'm not doing this so that I can have more followers or increase the number of views I have on youtube. Don't get me wrong, I do want to sell books and I do need to have more speaking and consulting opportunities to provide for my family. But I can no longer allow my heart to be tethered to what other people like or don't like about what I write. I have spent years and years seeking God on this journey and honing my convictions about God, the church, small groups, and personal spirituality. I've developed these ideas through many conversations with others and I've sought feedback in community—this has not been done in isolation in other words.
I've just come to a place on my journey where I can offer through writing, speaking, consulting, etc. that which the Spirit of God has developed within me with a freedom that I've not had before. Are there weaknesses in what I have to offer? Well of course. But I'm not getting life from the adulation or the critique anymore.
The new motivation is centered in the core of who God has shaped me to be. It flows out of the convictions and the calling that compels me to offer a message of hope for the church, for small groups and for individuals who want to make a difference in our world.