Really, It’s Not You, It’s Me


When you’ve been a consistent voice in the blogosphere for a few years, people start to notice you. It means a lot to me that Cerulean Sanctum has been a blessing to others. I get emails from readers that bless me, too, especially those that tell how much the writings here have been a benefit in other people’s lives.

Unfortunately, that same Web presence can spawn its own interpersonal trials and misunderstandings. That brings me to four relational issues I wish to discuss: post link acknowledgments, book reviews, charity mentions, and LinkedIn.

Acknowledging links to posts at Cerulean Sanctum

Early in my blogging life, I made it a mission that I would thank every blogger who linked to one of my posts and mentioned Cerulean Sanctum on their blog. It was important to me that I acknowledge other bloggers who referenced my writings as a way of showing my gratitude and to make the blogosphere a less cold and unfriendly place.

Sadly, as more and more people link to posts here, I have been unable to keep up with this duty. In fact, if I started today and tried to make up for the backlog of just the last month or two, I would spend all day every day for the rest of my life trying to catch up.

So if I don’t post a thankful comment on your blog for your link, it’s not that I’m not grateful; I really am. Economies of scale have just made it an impossible task.

So I say here, Thank you to everyone who links to posts at Cerulean Sanctum.

Book reviews

I am also grateful that anyone would see fit to ask me to review books that they have written. That major publishers write me and ask me to read galleys is not only a shock, but one of those “I’m not worthy” kind of events.

As a professional writer, I am ultrasympathetic to the plight of authors attempting to garner marketing publicity for their books. My heart goes out to you.

However, the day has so many hours. Because I need to make a living, and I am the sole breadwinner for my family, I am willing to review books but only for a fee.

Yes, for the rare book that is dead-on-target to issues I discuss here at Cerulean Sanctum, I am willing to reconsider. But if you have a book on dating for Christian seniors or some other not-discussed-on-this-blog subject, I can only review it for a fee.

I am sure your book is deserving. The problems are on my end: limited time and the need to feed my family. If I am reviewing a stack of books all day long gratis, then I’m falling down in my most important responsibilities.

Charity mentions

Recently, I’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of charities wishing me to acknowledge their organization on Cerulean Sanctum. I did this once and now face a flood of requests. That’s normally how these things go.

To those that folks who have approached me about their charity, I want to say that I pray that God richly blesses you. But I have decided I need to stick with a decision my wife and I made many years ago. We only support those charities that are run by people we know personally, people that we regularly meet face-to-face. In this way, the accountability remains high. It also means that we can dedicate our limited resources to the people who are doing the work in those charities because they are friends and neighbors in “real” life.


This will be perhaps the most contentious issue of the four here.

I like LinkedIn and use it. It is my only genuine social networking outlet on the Web (besides Cerulean Sanctum), and I believe it to be a decent way for me to keep my business presence alive on the Internet.

But LinkedIn is only as valuable as the strength of its relationships. Its primary purpose, as I see it,  is to allow others to recommend my work and for me to do the same for them. For that reason, it demands that I know the people well that I accept as connections. I have to have some history with my connections.

Do I accept connections from people I have never met face-to-face? Yes. However, those people have two things going for them:

  1. I know what my connections do for a living and have seen examples of their professional work. In this way, I can recommend them to others.
  2. My connections and I have developed a history outside of blogging. That means carrying on conversations in private emails or phone calls over the course of some time.

Nothing is harder for me to do than decline invitations to link up on LinkedIn. For every person I decline, it’s like a little death.

If you have offered to link up and I’ve not accepted, I want to say this: It is not because I don’t like you or am being a snob. It’s solely for the two reasons above.

It’s not you, it’s me

So, if I appear standoffish, it has nothing to do with you, your book, your charity, or your blog, and everything to do with my own limitations.

I genuinely care about the people who read Cerulean Sanctum. I’ve prayed for many, if not most, of you. Forgive me if I fail you in other regards.

It’s Still Who We Know


Definitely not networking...If you’re single, I doubt that most people’s advice to you on finding a mate would be to sit home alone. Instead, they’ll say you need to get out and meet people.

If you are led to be a doctor, I doubt that most people would suggest you avoid college. Instead, they’ll advise you to get the proper education.

I suspect that few people would argue against that advice. I doubt that few Christians would, either, albeit with an added caution not to forget prayer and seeking God’s direction in the process.

No, I doubt that many Christians out there would argue against a person working to accumulate as many resources as possible before an undertaking, no matter what that undertaking might be. Even Jesus said that no king sets out for war without checking his resources

I interview people and write stories about them as part of my work. What perpetually strikes me is that these people rose to influential positions largely because of their social networks. They knew the right people, others who were influential and could make things happen. Now they are influencers themselves.

What also stands out to me is how well people who make no pretenses to being born again use their network of contacts, yet so many Christians I know are absolutely awful at doing the same.

As I look around at Christians that I know, it’s remarkable to me how few of us are connected to genuine influencers, the people who can pick up a phone, make a call, and put good things into motion. Instead, too many of the networks of these fellow Christians are more like puddles than teeming lakes or are so highly compartmentalized as to exemplify a ghetto. Is that not a squandering of resources that could be used for the Kingdom of God?

What’s utterly counterintuitive is that the decisions we may have believed were more “godly” stuck us with these tiny, fragile networks. Jesus Himself had 12 disciples, but He still went out of His way to snag that one critical influencer, Saul of Tarsus. That’s how important this issue is. Why then do we act as if it’s not?

As an example of my own personal failure in this regard, I bought the consistent Christian advice that I should devote more time to my family. What Christian hasn’t been bombarded with the “sanctity of family” message? It practically defines 21st century Evangelicalism. However, pouring time back into my family by eschewing happy hour with coworkers, including influencers, and begging off the Saturday morning golf outings has limited my network.

In talking with most of my Christian peers, we seem to all have the same story. Comparing networks reveals that we have little or no connection to influencers, just each other. And we’re definitely NOT influencers ourselves as a result.

Unbelievers, on the other hand, absolutely live and die by their networks. The smart ones play those networks constantly because they realize that doing so yields positive results in their favor. They know influencers, and those influencers make things happen for them.

Why, then, are Western born-again Christians so terrible at this?

I think part of it comes down to the thinking that God is all we need. On most levels that is true, but I don’t think that God created us to be disconnected from each other. Yet that is what ultimately happens. Some people feel like islands even in church, a most dreadful reality that should never occur.

There’s a disease in Western Christianity that spreads through the message that we don’t need our brothers and sisters in Christ. The result is that people languish as lone rangers. They ultimately question God about why He didn’t do such and such when the reality is that the person never had the right social resources in place for God to bring all the pieces together. Like I mentioned at the beginning, not a person here would expect God to make someone into a doctor without that person having the right educational resources first. Yet how is it that we scratch our heads when a ministry plan fails to come together for want of connections to the right people to help make that plan a reality? Yes, the Lord may build the house, but He still builds it from existing material.

All this disconnection leads to marginalization. We have our ghetto and we’re fine with it. And that’s a shame because I think it keeps too many of us back. It prevents us from being all we can be. It means we rarely interact with outsiders, including unbelievers. It backs us into a corner. Worse, it robs the world of the light of Christ in us. If we don’t interact with the darker world, how then will it fill with light?

I don’t think it has to be this way. How we build (or rebuild) networks, especially for us old guys, is the harder question. If we start working on that network, I suspect the inevitable catcalls from fellow believers will come. The sad part may be that we have to reduce our involvement in some unhealthy networks to spend time in better ones, and some fellow Christians may comprise that unhealthy network.

Hey, no matter how we look at it, it still comes down to who we know.