why you are bigger than the numbers.

The validity of the New York Times bestseller list has been hotly debated of late. Some have called the list metrics antiquated, weighting the paper versions over the e-book versions and the purchases made in brick-and-mortar stores over those made online. Some have called it an inaccurate sampling of sales at a hodgepodge of bookstores. Some have called it, frankly, confusing.

Seth Godin spoke out against this on his blog yesterday.

The most recent case he referenced is that of Danielle LaPorte and her new book, The Fire Starter Sessions. Despite an overwhelming response, and a list-worthy explosion of sales, her book didn’t make it on the list. She compellingly articulates why this, here and now, is only the beginning.

As a writer, the arguments fascinate me. To some, a writer’s value is measured by that New York Times list.

In your field, there’s probably a metric or two. Is it dollars saved or earned? Students taught? Patients seen? Credit cards sold? Calls answered? Exams points earned?

Our society is obsessed with these numbers.

This era is symbolized by opinion poll ratings, followers on this network and friends on that network, subscribers, standardized test scores, GPAs, dollars saved, buildings constructed, rungs of the ladder climbed.

Each facet of my own career has metrics too.

The WordPress dashboard offers me, as a blogger, about 1,000 ways to measure my work. (As for Google Analytics? The thing is a beast.) And in the fundraising aspect of my career, the dollar signs measure how well or not well I do my job. In the writing and coaching aspect, the number of clients and number of projects are key indicators.

Granted, some moments call for the numbers. Numbers do carry value. But the numbers do not tell the whole story.

And for being merely a piece of the picture, we sure give numbers too much power.

We’ve allowed these metrics to go on a power trip. We’ve allowed these metrics not only to take on an identity of their own, but to take on our identities too.

How easy it is to sink into the numbers and let these metrics become our very identity. We start to count our worth as we count our numbers.

Oh, friends, we are bigger than the numbers. Who we are and why we matter is so much more than simple numbers.

Our value – our inspiration-driven value – lies not in the numbers. It’s in the who and the how and the what!

We are people, people with stories. We’re people whose actions matter. Love matters. Life matters. Community matters. What we do in and around and through the numbers matters.

You matter. You are bigger than the sum of some metrics.

Give the numbers their due. But remember how much more of the story there is. 

Linking up for the first time today with Carissa Graham at Miscellany Monday — and also for the first time with Miss Elaine-ous Mondays!


11 thoughts on “why you are bigger than the numbers.

  1. Great post, Sarah! “…Remember how much more of the story there is.” So true. I’m about halfway through the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, and I really think you would absolutely love it. It’s about learning to live a better story — how to set big goals and accomplish them, with determination and God’s help of course. Maybe I’ll send it your way when I’m finished!

  2. Thanks for this reminder. We are sometimes too hard on ourselves, and often it’s because we aren’t looking at the full picture. Money and weight are two “numbers” that come to mind…. they certainly don’t tell the whole story.

  3. EXCELLENT reminder! I think sometimes we get so focused on the “numbers” that we tend to forget what it is really all about.

    Thanks for linking up at The Miss Elaine-ous Life today! 🙂

  4. Yes! I was thinking recently about the whole numbers game that we are all programmed to play and how it affects the Christian church. Bigger numbers does not equal better, not in our personal lives or in the church.

  5. So true! many times, the world tempts us into thinking this way. If only we stay connected to Him do we realize that we are worth so much than what the world adores.

  6. Excellent post, Sarah. It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers game and lose focus of the One whom we are writing for.


  7. I am catching up on your posts 🙂

    I think it needs to be said : when God looks at us, he doesn’t see the number of sins, but Christ’s perfection in its place. That is the ultimate encouragement!

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