Social Media Coordinator: a job I never imagined would exist, let alone belong to me.
Born in the mid-late 90s, I am old enough to remember a world without smartphones but young enough to still be considered a digital native. My childhood is recorded in scrapbooks and on VHS tapes, but (unfortunately) all of my teenage years are documented on Facebook. At some point, hours spent reading books and playing pretend outside seamlessly merged with typing out storylines on my beloved chunky, chatty computer keyboard. I now make a living communicating through social networks, but I believe there will never be a technological substitute for a hot cup of tea and face-to-face conversation.
Even so, social media as a tool of communication seems here to stay. How can we, as individuals and as the Church, best steward this tool unto the glory of God?
Books have been written to help believers answer this question. Even within FTC.co, there are several helpful articles by people I trust on the subject. Everyone has different convictions, approaches, and nuances about social media; but I hope some of these simple tips help you wield this tool with wisdom:
- Reflect the glory of God – To reflect the glory of God, we must behold the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 2:18 tells us that by the Spirit of God, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” In his book 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You, Tony Reinke warns against becoming “desensitized to delight.” Treasuring God protects us from the siren song of the world’s distractions. What are you filling your mind and heart with? If you treasure God and his Word, your life (and online presence) will evidence his beauty, goodness, and truth.
- Respect the image of God in others – In his kindness, the Lord of all creation took special care to craft human beings in his image. Each person on earth bears the imago Dei: “the image of God.” Whether someone is a follower of Jesus or not, Christians have a responsibility to acknowledge the innate dignity of others. This does not mean you have to agree with them on everything! It does mean that regardless of ethnicity, age, socioeconomic background, religious background, or any other qualifier, we should evidence the Kingdom of God by treating people with respect.
- Remain faithful – Our online presence should align with the character of our personal life. And, whether it is on Twitter or in the pulpit, your personal life with the Lord should take precedence over anything outward-facing. Two questions help me discern whether I am being faithful to God in my social media posts: “Does this make too much of myself?” and “Does this make too little of God?” Sharing an immodest photo of how many bookcases or plants you possess could be just as dishonoring to God as liking a crass post. Though there is freedom in Christ for what we like and share, we should be mindful of demonstrating (in public and in private) that our loyalty belongs to him rather than the world. Take a step back and evaluate if you are stealing glory from the One for whom it is meant.
- Let your reasonableness be known to all – One of my pastors recently preached through Philippians 4, noting the importance of Paul’s command to, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone” (v. 5). He noted the translation of the word “reasonableness” is tricky, but that God’s intention is for his children to be marked by gentleness, peace, and humility. In his examination of the passage, Trevin Wax explains it as “spreading grace in a culture of judgment.” The online arena is a wonderful opportunity for us to proactively “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time,” and react to people we encounter with gracious, truth-filled speech (Col. 4:5-6).
- Do not react quickly – Speaking of reactions… Have you ever felt the repercussions of responding too quickly? I do not know about you, but I wish I were less familiar with that sinking feeling in my stomach and the flush in my cheeks immediately following a careless word. When we are face-to-face with someone and speak without considering them, there is a healthy shame that surfaces in the wake of our words. Facing the consequences of our speech is a grace because it guards us from false religion; from deceiving ourselves and wielding unbridled tongues (James 1:26). One of the dangers of modern communication is this guard is often removed. Beloved friend, resist the temptation to react hastily online and instead heed the wisdom of James to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (v. 19).
- Do not repay evil for evil – Like money, sex, and all other things gifted by God, the existence of the internet is not inherently evil. But few places evidence the evil intent present in the hearts of humanity more than the internet. No matter what evil comes up against you, recall God’s command through 1 Peter 3:9: “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” Christians have a unique opportunity to honor God through gentleness, respect, tenderness, and humility. In A Gospel Primer, Milton Vincent writes:
“I should expect every day to encounter circumstantial evidence of God’s commitment to my dying; and I must seize upon every God given opportunity to be conformed more fully to Christ’s death, no matter the pain involved.”
It is easier to cut back with words than it is to lay bleeding at the foot of the cross, but that is the very place we find our Savior. In our death, he grants us life and words of life to share with others—even others who hate us as they hated him.
- Do not replace “real” relationships – One of the reasons I love my job is because I get to meet people from all over the world who are “for the Church.” Social media makes it possible to connect with others and hear stories we never could have otherwise. Especially in the past decade, the increasing presence of technology has powerfully aided global communication (and, to that end, the Great Commission). But here is the thing: there is no need for any of it without keeping in mind God and neighbor. God does not value you based on how many followers you have, but he does number the hairs on your head. God does judge your church based on how well-designed your graphics are, but he does care about the unity of his body. God commands us to love him and love one another in real, messy, hard ways. Whenever it is within our power, our shirts should be stained with the snot and tears of those we hold crying in hospital rooms and our arms should be open to hug a church member on Sunday morning. Paul wrote letters when necessary, but his heart yearned to dwell with his brothers and sisters in Christ. Should we not feel the same?
The way we use social media communicates what we think about ourselves, others, and God. Let’s steward it wisely.