Foolishly and Boldly Judging Your Brethren Worldwide

Before you post so confidently about what other Christians are (or are not) doing, remember these important facts:

  1. Your actual deep (detailed) exposure to Christians worldwide is limited geographically. Before you write and talk about how “all” Christians or churches are, think about how many different churches you really have deep experience with and the number of Christians about which you have an intimate knowledge of their private service, devotion, and convictions. If you have been a member of a few churches in similar areas and have many Christian acquaintances and few close brethren, consider that your sample size is too small to extrapolate about Christians and churches worldwide (technically it is narrow and statistically insignificant). If you have visited many churches in many places, understand that one or a few visits is too little exposure to really know those churches and those Christians.
  2. If a Christian is following Jesus’ principles, they are not sharing every good deed of evangelism, service to the marginalized, and service to brethren on Facebook or even talking about it at church (sometimes not within their family) because they are not “letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing” as our Lord taught. So you may be condemning the humble who are just busy about good works and being quiet about it. (“[But] aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
  3. You may be projecting on others what you are failing to do yourself. The speck in their eye is not the biggest problem that you should be addressing.
  4. The average Christian is not a professional counselor with unlimited resources and excessive discretionary time to serve every need. Some do nothing, some do the best they can with the situations they encounter, some wear themselves out in service. I think every sincere Christian wants to do more and those that don’t “get it” don’t want to be bothered and will answer for it.
  5. How can people proudly proclaim that Christians are humans imperfectly struggling to be more like Christ then condemn Christians for imperfections that reflect that we are not yet what we strive to be? I have failed to serve, failed when I tried to serve, and failed to serve enough. But I’m getting better and I’m learning. I think others are as well.

Your brethren need grace and the benefit of the doubt that you don’t know all the struggles they are facing within and without and what they are doing without telling you. Better to focus on your relationship with God, being what you should be in service to God, helping your local fellowship reflect God’s glory in teaching and service, and praying that other Christians in other places are doing the same.

Social Media Fame Will Not Ease Your Emotional Pain

A Bing search today provided an ironic set of results for celebrity Selena Gomez. She became the first person to reach 100 million Instagram followers AND checked herself into a rehab facility to deal with depression and emotional issues. One would think that someone who has so many fans would have no reason to suffer emotionally, yet this is not the case, as social media followers cannot provide the same emotional support to deal with serious problems in life. As a celebrity, Gomez probably realizes this and understands the difference between fans and friends. However, those of us who do not have fame may feel that if we could just have 1,000 social media followers then our voice could be heard and we would be important. Such is an illusion. There is far more value in a few people who truly love and support you than many times that in “followers.”

Gomez likely is suffering additional problems brought on because of celebrity. If we think fame will solve problems, it will probably only magnify our problems and may create new ones. Many business, sports, and entertainment stars have achieved their goals and received the riches and accolades they desired only to discover a nagging question: “Is this all there is?” The book of Ecclesiastes emphasizes the futility of the things in this life bringing our life meaning; however, we can be satisfied with work and achievement if we have it in perspective. There are famous people who do not care about fame who are able to handle its rise and fall with grace.

From my understanding, Selena Gomez has gone through some significant challenges that would impact anyone’s emotional state. It is wise that she is seeking help to deal with these issues and hopefully she will find strength and encouragement to get through this difficult time. It is good that she is turning to people and not drugs or alcohol. I understand the treatment is from a Christian perspective so I hope, and will pray, she can find God’s wisdom as a strength and guide.

Video – Lifeline to God: Using Social Media to Teach and Edify

This is a video of a presentation I did in July 2016 at a teen gathering on using social media in a way that glorifies God.

This is a video of a presentation I did in July 2016 at a teen gathering on using social media in a way that glorifies God. I hope you will find it encouraging. The document I reference early in the presentation on things young people wish their parents knew about how their social media use impacts them can be found here.

 

What Young People Want Their Parents to Know About Social Media

Loving GranddaugherOlder people have embraced social media to connect with family and friends and reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. Children and parents (and grandparents) are sharing this communications medium which creates potential areas of conflict and difficulties in the relationships.

I asked young people what guidelines they would like me to share with their parents and grandparents. Here were the replies: 

  • Don’t friend your child’s friends.  Most felt that it was acceptable if their friend initiated the request with the parent. Young people often feel awkward refusing an adult’s request.
  • Don’t complain about your child’s teacher or school officials online.  They have to live with the consequences of your rants, complaints, or “suggestions for improvement.”
  • Don’t complain about child discipline problems in public forums. Social media is not the place for “I’m so frustrated that my child just…” Do not reprimand them or correct them publicly. This also includes “How do you deal with a child who has …. problem?” posts.
  • Don’t brag too much about them—they feel embarrassed.
  • Don’t embarrass them.
  • Don’t post about potty training or the bowel movements of kids (just…don’t)
  • Don’t post embarrassing pictures or video (like kids on anesthesia) without asking permission. Even then, ask yourself what you hope to accomplish by posting a potentially humiliating picture or video of your child for all to see.
  • Don’t assume they can take a joke. Sensitivity changes quickly in young people.
  • Don’t comment on all of your child’s posts and pictures. Ask grandparents and excessively “interested” adults to refrain as well.
  • Don’t tag your child in EVERYTHING that you post.
  • Don’t get involved in your kids drama. They can handle it, we did. If they feel they need help they will talkwith you.
  • The really heavy stuff that makes you panic is probably a song lyric or movie quote.

Download this as a PDF Handout:

Parents Social Media Guide Pic

 Parents Social Media Guide

My Facebook and Twitter Break

I joked with my wife that I was on a Facebook fast. Although I have not been off completely, I probably have been on 10 minutes TOTAL in the last 10 days. I went on to post a notice about our teen class and change of worship service times. I also went on to get a news update on two friends who were having medical emergencies. I quickly scanned some posts, responded to friend requests, then logged out. My Twitter break has been shorter but consisted of a few times in to respond to a message about Bible study material recommendations, check news by my friends, and retweet some good posts. I have been on Twitter slightly longer, about 30 minutes total over the last 10 days since I do have some work related accounts I follow. I have pretty much abandoned Google Plus.

I have taken breaks from social media in the past for various reasons. During elections I don’t access as much. On football game days and sports finals I have started to stay off (keeps me from getting into dumb debates about teams or thinking less of some friends who have little tact or take sports too seriously and personally). And, as now, the occasional unannounced fast.

Social Media and the Smartphone

It seems that more people are taking a break or re-evaluating how they access social media. There is an excellent article by Wes McAdams on “Why I Deleted Facebook and Twitter From My Phone”  that I recommend you read. It describes his regained focus on  family relationships by limiting his access on his phone.  I conducted my social media phone experiment differently. I originally moved my Bible program to the slot occupied by the Facebook app so when I reflexively went to Facebook my thumb would be hovering over the Bible app instead. I made a commitment to click and read the Bible if I was going to click and read Facebook. While fasting, my social media apps are in a folder that are not accessible as quickly.

Social Media Fatigue?

I don’t know if it is “social media fatigue” but I’m just not on much at all anymore and in and out of Twitter quickly. I bought a Chromebook to do more writing and haven’t added Facebook or Twitter to the launch bar so I have to access from another device.  I haven’t completely dropped Facebook . I probably won’t drop Facebook and Twitter because I use them to link to some business applications and I do want to have a way to reach out to certain friends that I see sporadically. But I transformed the way I used social media before and am changing the way I use it again.

What Have I Gained?

I have generally banned devices from mealtimes so nothing has really changed there.rocks

I feel like I’ve gained more focus when working and writing since I can’t access social media on my Chromebook and have greatly limited it elsewhere. I feel more focused generally since I’m not distracted by so much noise of everyone’s lives. I do get nuggets of important information such as births, deaths, and major life events or profound items of interest mixed in with the static from mundane life events, sports and political drivel, and cat pictures.

I’ve quit chasing “likes”. Being off of Facebook/Twitter has forced me to refrain from posting things that I know will garner likes. I have received invitations to do some cool things, have had some great experiences, and enjoyed some personal achievements and have not shared them on social media.  I have shared some of them with my family and friends but have refrained from posting them. This is a challenge as I have had to personally wrestle with. I have found that I post to my blog in order to help people but often my Facebook and Twitter posts were more self-centered. That is not a problem of the social networks, it is my problem, but like an alcoholic who avoids bars my avoidance of social media is teaching me to be more humble.

I do see value in some religious discussions on social media and there is virtue in that. I generally have not had as much success. Certain friends post some valuable Bible study info so I list them on my close friends list so I can see their updates. Since I work full-time in a business job I don’t have the time that some full-time preachers and others without work constraints have to engage in such discussions.  In fact, I have refrained from posting at times because I knew I could not commit the time to address objections or clarifications. Instead, I write here where I can fully explain the subject I wish to discuss without restrictive comment spaces.  Instead of reading posts I am spending more time reading the Bible, books, and blog posts. Don’t misunderstand: I am not devaluing religious discussions via social media but simply stating that it is not the optimal medium for me.

What’s Next?

I do not know where this will lead. I am enjoying the focus and contentment and attention to study and writing. I am enjoying avoiding needless and foolish arguments over politics and sports teams (though I personally love football). I enjoy not reading complaints about the things in life that most people in the world would feel lucky to have. I do miss some information on my friends but I have found the important information always makes it back to me though a little delayed.

As noted above, I will probably not close the accounts so you can still connect to me via Twitter and the Godly Youth Facebook page. I’ll be around occasionally so don’t be surprised if you see me there.