Any human being who undertakes a task wants to see something come of it, some success. Axiomatic, no? This may particularly be true of males. I heard it said once that what matters most to a woman is security; what matters most to a man is significance.
So farmers don't plant seed, and then lose interest in what comes of it; builders build to see a building stand firm; and writers, whatever they may claim, yearn to be read.
What do pastors—to say nothing of pastors who write—want? Being a pastor has to be one of the most difficult jobs in the universe, if only for one reason: you never really know how to measure your effectiveness. Numbers, praises, criticisms—any of these actually can be counter-intuitive as evaluative factors. Are you a failure if you are heavily criticized? Then Jeremiah was a failure. Are you a failure if you are richly praised? Then Spurgeon is a failure. Was Jonathan Edwards a success when his preaching sparked a revival, or when he was driven out of his church? Or both? Do thronging crowds mark a success, or a failure? Then is Joel Osteen a success? Is John MacArthur a failure? Is the faithful laborer with 217 people in his church—or 27—a failure?
You never know, and you know you will never know, until the judgment seat of Christ.
That's not easy for a man to live with.
Now, in blogs, we have some devices. You can see that I use both SiteMeter and the TTLB to measure traffic. They give me some means of measuring the impact of this blog, as do comments.
For instance, between these two, I know that currently this blog is enjoying about 400 visits per day. That's not bad. What's even cooler is when I check out the world map in the morning. Look at where my last hundred visits came from:
You see a lot in North America, but also there's Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, South Africa, Finland, Poland, Ecuador, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and the UK.
That's an international impact such as Paul or Spurgeon could only have dreamed of. What a gift from God.
But how to explain the imponderables, and what to make of it? Over at Pyro, we get 2000-3000 visits a day. Some of my posts there have garnered some very gracious praise. But that blog's on hiatus, which hasn't translated into 2K-3K visits here. Or again, explain the links to this blog. TTLB counts up 44 linking to me, but I'm still stuck as a "Slithering Reptile" in the Ecosystem, where I've been for some time. So most of those 400 folks aren't linked to me... or something.
What has meant an awful lot to me have been the comments, and the emails. A sister whose son had just died wrote me of comfort she found in a post. Others going through struggles I can only imagine have shared of help or direction or encouragement they've found; they've told of printing up this or that article to hand out in church, or of discussing one of my studies in Bible study. Read some of the comments over at Pyro in the Four Faces meta, or the ...and you were going to do this, when? meta, or the Calling him "lord" -- or, Blacks and women meta, or the What if? meta; or the gent who wanted to print up and distribute the Sister... show mercy! post at his church — it's all very uplifting, but very humbling, at the same time.
So now what has come of those essays, since then? Those, and the others? Lasting changes in individuals, in churches? Incremental shifts? Nothing at all? A great deal? Only God can evaluate.
One writes, aware that he has literally no idea who might be stopping by, or from where in the world, or from where in his or her own life. Believer, unbeliever; happy, sad; sorely tempted, or on the verge of great service to God and just needing a word of counsel or encouragement (or correction). Perhaps someone just clicked "Next blog" by accident—except the Bible knows of no accidents, in the strict sense. "Who is sufficient for these things?" Certainly not I.
And that's where we are, in the final analysis. Whether it's you or me, pastors or bloggers (or blogging pastors): you sow the seed; you water, if you can. But you trust both it and the results to God, and you pray for God to give growth. If growth comes, if lasting, spiritual fruit forms, you know it is from His hand alone (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5-15).
UPDATE: but then Technorati says there are 254 links from other 101 blogs to this one. So... go figure.