It’s very difficult to gauge how much attention an article will receive on this forum. Fortunately, I don’t write with that in mind. Because time is a precious commodity, I only write about things I’m feeling passionate about at the moment. Sometimes it resonates with others and sometimes it doesn’t. However, I have compiled a unique list of the 17 most underrated articles posted on this blog. Articles that I think deserve far more attention than they have received. I hope you’ll give these articles a second look.
My weight loss journey, godly parenting, church growth, personal holiness, navigating the dangers of ministry, neglecting prayer, ISIS, the hypocrisy of Hollywood, coping with a terrible trial, and good decision making are covered in the articles below. I am incredibly humbled by each of you who support this ministry by simply reading and sharing. God bless.
While we used to think that people mostly misrepresented themselves on social media, studies are finding more and more that the opposite is actually true. Studies are discovering that people represent themselves more accurately on their Facebook accounts than they do in person. This is encouraging and distressing at the same time. We have known for over a decade now that people’s inhibitions are lowered when using passive-aggressive forms of social interaction, that’s why so many inappropriate relationships and affairs have begun on places like Facebook and MySpace (back in the day). Similarly, that’s why people become bullies on Twitter who would never pick a fight in person. Studies used to argue that social platforms were influencing bad behaviour, but now experts are suggesting that who we are on social media is who we have really been deep down all along. So how should we Christians view this information and apply it to our lives?
1. What you post about and talk about the most on social media is probably what you care most about in life: if you never talk about God and family than those things are probably not the highest priorities in your life.
2. Your social media posts (or lack of them) say a lot about your marriage, your faith, your future, and your real priorities.
3. Are you a “Lurker” or a “Liker”? We all know the social media user who lurks around but never likes or engages with anything. Studies are suggesting that this imbalance gives a window into the soul. If you lurk and never like but you feel angry when no one likes your posts; you are likely a selfish narcissist. However, if you lurk and never like but don’t care if others like your posts; you are probably just cautious, private, and curious. There’s a big difference between the two. There has been much debate about the narcissistic side effects of social media. Needless to say, the Kardashian worshipping, selfie-obsessed, fame seeking mindset has no place in a godly heart (check out my very first blog post entitled Living Selflessly In a Selfie World and Clothed In Humility).
4. Speaking of selfishness and narcissism; the sheer amount of selfies and how you pose in said selfies is very telling as well. This is my personal observation, the amount of Christian woman (especially married ones) who are constantly taking seductive selfies is staggering.
5. So I think as Christians we should examine our social media “footprint” and ask ourselves are we a reflection of Christ, or are we allowing carnality to run rampant in our online presence. If the studies are right and our online presence is becoming the truest reflection of our inner selves than shouldn’t we be expressing our faith, our joy, our salvation, our love, our gratitude, our reverence, and so on?
6. If it is true that our inhibitions are lowered on social media and that our media footprint is a true reflection of who we are then we must use it as a platform to share the Gospel and evangelize the world. I know there is pressure (even within the Christian community) to remain quiet about our faith on public forums. I’m not advocating being obnoxious, mean-spirited or argumentative. But the cold reality is this; if you won’t share your faith on social media you definitely will not share it in person. Hollywood, advertisers, atheists, politicians, salesmen, and secularists impose their beliefs and preach at me every day on social media. Why should we be ashamed to speak publically of the single most important thing in our lives, the Gospel?
Last week I promised that I would follow up my article on the 7 cons of Facebook with a list of pros. So without further ado let’s jump right into the 6 pros of being on Facebook.
1. It is a great way to share your faith.
I know that we all have obnoxious Facebook friends who fuss and fight about religion, but don’t let their bad behavior keep you from lovingly (and creatively) sharing your faith in God. We should be unashamed of the Gospel in every arena of our lives.
2. It is a great way to stay connected with friends and family.
Especially those loved ones who live far away. I have spent the majority of my life living a long distance from family. Facebook is a wonderful way to stay involved and up to date.
3. It is a great way stay connected with other churches and ministries.
I always look forward to scrolling through my newsfeed on Sunday evening to see all the wonderful reports of what God has done in other churches.
4. It is a powerful forum for inviting people to your church.
You can and should invite people to your church via Facebook. You’d be surprised how many people will accept your invitation.
5. It is a good way to gauge someone’s spiritual health.
Church leaders can often gauge someone’s spiritual health by observing how they operate on social media. I have been saddened many times to find out that an individual who seemed like a sincere Christian at church portrayed a very different persona on Facebook.
6. It can be a source of edification and inspiration.
Now certainly Facebook can be the exact opposite of edifying and inspiring, but if used correctly it can be uplifting. I regularly come across articles and posts that support me spiritually.
So obviously I am a Facebook user (you likely found this article on Facebook). I have weighed the pros and cons and believe that the good (in most cases) outweighs the bad. Especially for churches. Social media is a powerful tool for community evangelism and for creating awareness of your local church to very specific people. I believe that every church should leverage social media for the sake of the Gospel. Having said that, Facebook (and social media in general) can severally damage an individual’s reputation (check out this article entitled 18 Ways to Ruin Your Reputation on Facebook by Paul Steinbrueck). Let’s begin by looking at seven cons of being on Facebook. Next week I will follow up with a list of Facebook pros.
1. It can be a time drain.
It really, really, really can. Here are a few questions that you should consider before you allow those minutes to speed by surfing Facebook (or the internet in general for that matter). Have I read my Bible today? Have I made real human connections, especially when it comes to my family? Have I spent time with the Lord in prayer? Have I accomplished important daily goals? Am I procrastinating right now?
2. It can hinder your relationships with real people.
If you find yourself in a room with another person (or persons) and you’re scrolling through Facebook it’s time for a reality check. Put the device down and interact with real people. Remember, the term Facebook friends is pretty misleading. I am personally connected to thousands of people on Facebook who I don’t actually know. Be very careful not to substitute virtual friendship for genuine (real life) friendship.
3. One moment of carelessness can do irreparable harm.
We’ve all seen the public meltdowns appear on our Facebook newsfeeds that made us wonder if a particular individual had lost his or her mind. We’ve all seen the flashes of anger, the pity parties, the unexpectedly vulgar, and the irreversible rants. These moments of unbridled emotion can drastically tarnish a reputation
4. It can open doors to inappropriate relationships.
Facebook has replaced the chat rooms of the 90’s. One of social media’s strength’s is that it helps keep us networked with people that would otherwise be difficult to stay connected with on a semi regular basis. However, there are lots of people whom we should not be networking with. Old flames are just one of many examples of the inappropriate relationships that can be rekindled via Facebook. Studies have proven time and time again that people let inhibitions down when connecting via the passive aggressive medium of the internet. Guard your conversations, your connections, and keep yourself open and accountable at all times (the same is true for the phenomenon of text messaging).
5. It can destroy your witness.
Christians can destroy their witness by plastering their hypocrisy and ungodly behavior all over Facebook. It does no good to criticize your church or pastor publically only to turn around and invite folks to visit that same church. Another way that people destroy their witness on Facebook is when they try to bully unbelievers into submission or become overly argumentative rather than instructive. Fussing, fighting, and debating rather than loving, teaching, and witnessing will quickly destroy a believer’s witness.
6. It can be depressing.
For the most part, people try to put their best foot forward on Facebook. If you’re not careful you can wind up constantly comparing your imperfect life to everyone else’s seemingly perfect life. Facebook can easily become the modern day mechanism for keeping up with the Jones’.
7. It can produce narcissism in your heart.
Narcissism by definition is a characteristic of those who have an over inflated idea of their own importance. Social media can produce a false sense of celebrity stature that for some becomes intoxicating. Humility is a biblical virtue that must be applied to our social media presence as well as our physical interactions.
I recently saw a report claiming that the average teenager takes a minimum of 20 selfies a day. This seems narcissistic at best and narcotic at worst and we aren’t even discussing the closely related issue of highly sexualized selfies that clog up social media venues. This is a unique problem and it will likely take us several years to fully realize the consequences of a world with no sense of modesty, privacy, and dare I say, decency.
Now obviously in Bible times smart phones were yet to be invented, but I think that Philippians 2:3-5 speaks directly to our selfie culture, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” When we have the mind of Christ we are constantly taking the focus off of ourselves (which goes against our fallen nature) and redirecting it on others and on Jesus.
On several occasions Jesus makes a point to warn us against having the spirit of the Pharisees. The Pharisees loved to wear attention grabbing clothing and they walked through the marketplaces demanding that people look at them (Luke 20:46-47). Anything to draw attention to themselves. They were obsessed with self-promotion and the outward was highly cultivated while the inward was sadly neglected. At one point Jesus said that they were like white washed tombs, clean on the outside but filthy on the inside (Matthew 23:27).
So is a well-timed selfie a grave sin? Certainly not, but is an attitude of constant focus on self and the outward a sin? Yes. Understanding the difference is extremely important.