It’s Hard To Say “No”

I have to get serious with you for a minute.  There is something so heavy on my heart right now I can hardly bear it.

For some unfathomable reason, this blog of mine gets a pretty substantial bit of traffic.  I’m deeply grateful for that, and I view it as a responsibility, one I take very seriously. 

Because of this traffic, I receive many, many e-mail requests asking me to link to very good and admirable (and often heartbreaking) causes.  People are trying to generate funds for a difficult situation, or they simply want to ask others to pray.  I read every one of those e-mails.  I often agonize over them.  My heart hurts for every single one.

The truth is, if I linked to every one those, this blog would be a prayer request/fund raiser blog, plain and simple.  If only linked to SOME of them, then I’ve been put in the position of determining which causes are "worthy" of a link, something I’m terribly unqualified to do. 

Not to mention, while the majority of these requests are surely legitimate, I’ve received several requests that raise some serious red flags as to their honesty.  I cannot stand the thought of linking to a scam, of vouching for a cause I haven’t been able to verify personally and thoroughly. 

I hope that all of this makes it clear that I simply cannot link to all these requests.  I can’t even link to some of them.  I’m not qualified to determine which ones are deserving.  And it kills me.  You have no idea how many times this single issue has had me overwhelmed to the point of closing up this blog altogether.

I am very involved with Compassion International, both on my blog and privately.  I’m committed to their vision and I enthusiastically use my blog to help them in their work, however I possibly can.  Their financial integrity is highly regarded in the non-profit field, and they are following a model that works.  In the interest of setting smart boundaries, both for myself and for my readers, I’ve determined that my charitable efforts on my blog will focused solely on Compassion.  There are other causes and other needs that are legitimate, pressing and worth investigating, but I am simply unqualified to screen and manage them. 

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again for emphasis:  the blogosphere is a wonderful community, but when it comes to reaching out and ministering to others, it does not take the place of God’s chosen vessel for ministry, His Church.  Always, always, when you have a need, or see one, bring it to the attention of your church.  Organize meals, prayer requests, funds, whatever is needed, under the leadership of those specifically chosen and trained to handle these situations.  If you don’t have a church, that’s okay.  Any church that’s worth its salt will reach out to anyone. 

Of course there is a place for on-line fundraising and prayer–it’s blessed many people.  But, like everything else, it must be approached with careful discernment.  Which is exactly what this post is all about–my silly, simple efforts to figure out how to manage this blog of mine with wisdom. 

41 thoughts on “It’s Hard To Say “No”

  1. tammi says:

    I love what you said about needing the flesh-and-blood church family, despite feeling close with bloggy friends. I think so many of us are guilty of forgetting that — it’s just easier to converse online than in person because it can be done whenever we want, and more importantly, we don’t become nearly as vulnerable. But because of the lack of true openness and vulnerability, blogging simply isn’t as meaningful either. We still need our physical church family and friends.
    I’m very new to your blog, but I love it, and I really hope you won’t shut it down! I agree with mopsy.

  2. MamaLady says:

    Don’t feel guilty in the least. I think you’re doing a service by NOT posting every Tom, Dick and Harry’s request. IMHO.

  3. Diana Bartling says:

    Thanks for being responsible enough to say NO! We need to take our prayer concerns and our requests for fundraising to those who know us best…after all, they are the ones most likely to be there for us when we need them. I love your blog!!

  4. margalit says:

    Not that I don’t question your statement about churches, but for those of us who aren’t Christian, that statement just isn’t true. It isn’t. I wish that it were, but it’s not.
    But I totally stand by what you said. I’m of the same ilk. I link occasionally to things that I know are legit, and I do ask once a year for people to support my fund raising during Blogathon, for which I raise money for Children’s Hospital, but otherwise, there are just too many needy individuals for anyone, no matter how much traffic your site drives to you, to honor all the requests. So you do what you can, and hope that others do the same. You’re doing the right thing.

  5. Nancourt says:

    I totally agree with you!
    I am not a very good blogger. I do read blogs every single day…you and many others are on my blogroll. I just never got disciplined like you to post every day. I think it is because I work from home on the computer and some days, it is just WORK to blog too. With that said, let me tell you I think you and many others do a wonderful service and ministry with your posts.
    I admire you and respect you and wish to be more like you.
    Right now, all I have keeping me busy is a nasty troll. It does not encourage one to post more frequently….*sigh*
    So please, never apologize for your choices. I know it must be hard but you have to be genuine and run this show in the way that suits you.
    You are awesome…always and every day.

  6. Lynnae says:

    I appreciate your stance on this. I imagine it IS really hard to say no, but you’re absolutely right. How on earth would you be able to choose between the various causes that come your way? You’ve shown a great amount of thought and wisdom here.

  7. Amanda says:

    I totally agree with you on this! It’s your blog… people should respect that. I feel it is wrong for anyone to ask you to blog about their needs, prayers, etc. Maybe someone out there should create a blog for *THAT*… or maybe NOT! Who could have the time to read all the prayer requests and needs every day?
    I just think it’s kinda selfish for others to ask you to link to their blogs… sounds like they are wanting traffic..

  8. Susanne says:

    Oh, Shannon. I can only imagine how hard this is on your heart. If you volunteer to put something up that’s one thing but your personal blog shouldn’t be expected and requested to do any of that. Don’t feel guilty at all. You wrote this with much wisdom and grace!

  9. tracey says:

    Hmmm.. Having never had anyone ask me to link to a cause, I can’t relate, but I can imagine that it would be a difficult position to be put into.

  10. Llama Momma says:

    I see what you’re saying. But you won’t mind asking everyone to pray for my cousin Bertha’s eye surgery next Tuesday, would you? Oh, and she doesn’t have insurance. If everyone reading your blog could just donate one dollar…
    Kidding. I’m totally kidding.
    Right on, girl!

  11. Jen says:

    I know of a few blogs who post paid advertisements as posts. It can change the feeling from a fun, honest blog to one that can be bought, where the author will say anything for money-whether she’s tried the product she’s saying is great or not.
    I like to envision my blog developing a cult following…but like you, I use it as my personal voice. As someone else said, blogging can be at times a big effort with responsibility you feel to those who are reading–if people wanna advertise, they can easily get their own blogs & put in the effort to get & maintain readership.

  12. summershine says:

    Something I really appreciate about your blog is that there are no sponsored posts or paid advertisement buttons all over the place.
    It’s refreshing and much more real that way.
    Thanks for your hard work. I ‘ve only been around the blogging world for a month or so but I found you in the very beginning and have loved your blog.

  13. momrn2 says:

    Very well said my friend. I too have received a few of these requests (nothing like you get I’m sure!!!) and it is very difficult to know what to do!
    You did a great job putting it all into words here! I admire you in all your writing and what you share! Keep up the great work!!

  14. MommaBlogger says:

    Unfortunately, there are many churches that aren’t as willing to help as they ought to be. Then again, there are some that are too willing to help, and are burned because of it. I have been involved in both, and neither is very much fun.
    Sadly, there are so many things wrong on both sides, it is difficult to know what to do and where to turn, and sometimes it seems like the best idea is to go for a popular blog. I can understand that thinking, because I’ve thought it myself. I’m also too shy to ask help that way, because I’d be afraid of stepping on toes.
    Kudos to you though, for using God’s discernment. There is only so much you can do, and you can’t do more than God wills. Going outside that often leads to trouble, as I’m sure many of us are aware πŸ˜‰

  15. Mandy says:

    To chime in: you are handling this very wisely, and I admire you for it. I especially appreciate your encouragement to use the church as the church, rather than the blogosphere.
    God bless.

  16. Mandy says:

    To Margalit:
    I’m sorry for whatever experiences you have had with churches who have apparently not helped you when you needed it (perhaps I’m reading too much between the lines). The churches that I have been involved with have always helped whomever asked, whether they were members or not, believers or not. There are situations that are beyond their capabilities, especially if they are a small church. But they are commanded to serve, so if they are rejecting that command, it is a great tragedy.

  17. Liza says:

    very well said.. we understand.
    Your blog has a high ranking because of what it is. Some are called to do fund raising. Some are called to be prayer warriors. those are not your calling. This blog is a source of information and encouragement (as well as entertainment). It is very well thought of, very well laid out. Continue the good things you are doing. Do not feel guilty about saying no to the “stuff” or “requests” that are not in line with the purpose of this blog.
    WE love your blog and we love you.

  18. Megan at Sortacrunchy says:

    How interesting! We just had a sermon on Sunday from our interim pastor (we are in-between pastors at the moment) in which he said one of the most important words a pastor can say to his congregation is the word “No.” He was speaking in the context that if the pastor is the only one answering the phones, mowing lawns, teaching Sunday School, and visiting the sick, then no one in that body of believers is answering the call God has laid on their hearts.
    Okay, so the comparison makes a lot more sense in my head, but what I am trying to say is you are so right that we should be a part of a local body of believers who are called to minister to the needs of the community in which the Lord has placed them and expects them to be serving.
    Great post, Shannon! Thank you for loving us enough to say “no.”

  19. LisaCate says:

    So instead of sending funds or prayers to me could you send me some traffic? πŸ˜‰
    I’d love to have the kind of traffic to actually generate an email or two πŸ™‚
    And I think you’re doing a fine job. When you’re popular people will always want something from you. Like you said – this isn’t a charity. It’s your blog. And you post what you want to until you’re heart’s content! Don’t you worry about anything – you’re great!

  20. Michele says:

    You are so WISE. there are so many people out there who will construct something just to get love, attention and care to fill some void in their lives. It’s sad that they would lie in this manner. Good words!

  21. Christine says:

    Couldn’t have said it better. I think what you’re saying is fair to everyone. It’s impossible to determine the worthy causes. And even if they’re all worthy your blog would be overrun with these requests, like you said. Anyone peeved by your stance will just have to get over it…

  22. Barb says:

    Thank you for saying this and saying it so well, Shannon. I’m beginning to encounter the same thing. Lots and lots of requests. Like you, I decline unless I’m extremely familiar with the people involved.
    If I offend anyone, it’s certainly unintentional but I never intended for my blog to be “promotion central.”

  23. Karen (Changed by Love) says:

    I think you have done the right thing, it is your blog after all. Using discernment is the best and that is what most churches should be doing. My husband is a minister, so I know how the routine works. We have guidelines that we feel the Lord has outlined for us – it’s not to be discrimanatory, because it’s not, it’s to discourage enabling someone.
    After the blog party we had in March through 5 Min for Mom, I am hesistant about what I recommend because I won a book and was thrilled to get it. Started reading it recently and by page 5 it had one cuss word and the word for the male body part – imagine a pastor’s wife reading that. yeah. I am sending it back.
    Thanks for heading up the giveaways and prayerfully a fun time will be had by all.

  24. Stacey says:

    I totally understand! I can’t imagine how many people reach out to you on a daily basis. You would be taking up way to much of your space by doing that. I couldn’t agree with you more. I think it shouldn’t be a big deal at all and you shouldn’t feel bad about it!

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