My dad recently gave me this t-shirt as a small thank you for a project I did for him. It perfectly summed up the difference between me and my dad, who is a retired sports journalist. I am a numbers girl through and through.
I am fascinated by the way numbers interact. I love to find patterns in the way one action can affect multiple results. I could spend hours filtering, sorting, graphing, analyzing. What most people do in a document, I do in a spreadsheet. (For the life of me, I have no idea why anyone would ever create a table in Word instead of Excel!)
So when I started my online business, it was only natural for me to be drawn to all the numbers. Everything comes with Analytics!! Whoooo Hooooo!!
BUT (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) it didn’t take long for curiosity to give way to obsession and I found myself checking the stats several times a day. Not just traffic stats for my site, but looking at sites that give comparative rankings, plotting income over time, comparing my social media followers to someone else. For a numbers geek like me, it was like putting Johnny Manziel in the middle of the French Quarter on Mardi Gras. I just.can.not.help.myself.
In an environment where page views equal legitimacy and email lists determine worth, the expectations can be crushing. I think David knew a thing or two about those expectations.
When David returned from the battle where he killed Goliath with a stone, the people were cheering and chanting in the streets.
Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands. 1 Samuel 18:7
First of all, the scripture does not say anything about David slaying tens of thousands at that point. He slayed one. Granted, it was a very big one. But sometimes a little success breeds an expectation of even greater, immediate success.
When that success does not come, it drains my soul. When the post I was sure would go viral completely tanks. When more people unsubscribe than subscribe. When ten people look at my Packages page and no one is interested. On those days, I find myself reacting to this immediate feedback and desperately trying to “fix” whatever went wrong, or find one more place to promote my post, or add a fancier pop-up box.
You know what? It’s exhausting. All those numbers can be good indicators of progress or areas where I need to focus on improving, but they don’t need to dictate what I do with my time every day.
What lessons can we learn from David about the expectations of numbers?
Stats are not a good measure of my purpose
My goal is not to have 500,000 people view my website every month. My goal is to help creative Christians move their God-sized dream from vision to action. Google Analytics can’t measure that movement. Instead, if I get my head out of the spreadsheets, I can focus on providing helpful content, more resources and find better solutions to the problems you have.
David was keenly aware that his purpose not to slay people, but was to be king. He had been anointed for that purpose and was waiting to be appointed. Although Saul sent David on many missions and David had great success, he always returned to the house of Saul, where his true purpose lay.
Stats are a time-suck
Maybe you can glance at your stats and think, “Oh, that’s nice info” and then go about your day. But I can’t. Once I get started, I can easily waste an hour just clicking around looking at stuff. And before I know it, I’m rushing to finish a post or a project and I know it’s not my best work.
While people around him were counting up slain heads, David was busy getting his work done. He was playing his lyre in Saul’s house “as he usually did.”
Stats don’t measure relationships
While stats can be encouraging when they are growing, they don’t reflect the strength of our relationships. And strong relationships are key to growing any kind of ministry or business.
Rather than chasing after the “tens of thousands”, David was more concerned with growing a few key relationships. He befriended Saul’s son Jonathan, married Saul’s daughter Michal, and developed as a leader that troops loved to serve.
A funny thing happened while David was focused on his purpose as a servant of Saul, doing his work and building relationships.
David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known. 1 Samuel 18:30
The same can be true of us. If we spend more time doing what God called us to do instead of obsessing over numbers, God will define success in new ways for us and make us known as girls after God’s own heart.
So, I’m taking a #StatSabbatical. Wanna join me? For one week, I’m not looking at any stats. I’m following God’s leading on where I need to spend my time, not where I might get a few more page views. If you’ll accept the #StatSabbatical Challenge, comment below. Then join me at this Facebook event on Monday, April 25 at 8pm Central Time. We’ll all check our stats for the first time together and no matter what the numbers say, we’ll celebrate what God has done this week.
Let us know in the comments if you are taking the #StatSabbatical Challenge!