Stepping Up Your Social Media Game for the Sake of the Kingdom
If you know me, then you know how passionate I am about social media. Pictures, stories, captions, and live videos enable us to share with each other moments that showcase who we are and provide a platform for us to engage with the world. I tend to think of it as the new “public square,” but, honestly, it’s more than that. It’s a personal account of our stories. We have an opportunity to share ourselves with the world in a way that no other time period did.
Buckle up, kids. We are about to go deep.
The goal of social media is to connect people, but unfortunately it leaves us more disconnected than ever before. Is this because Instagram kills relationships? No, I don’t think so. I think it’s because of how we are consuming the content. Instead of consuming content that is good, true and beautiful that inspire us, we are consuming “Instagram perfect” bodies, perfectly posed pictures that hide flaws and we are left comparing our vacations to our friends’ on Facebook.
The idea is brilliant: provide a platform for people all over the world to connect, share ideas, meet each other, and build relationships. Seems like it would work, right? It should, and it does, but it also creates a barrier between reality and perception.
The problem with scrolling
While our thumbs are scrolling we are looking for something. What are we looking for? We pass up the pictures that don’t catch our eyes and when something peaks our interest for a moment we may scroll back up and double-tap, but then we keep scrolling.
I saw something on Facebook recently that said, “I wonder how many miles my thumbs have scrolled so far.” It made me think twice about how often I waste my time scrolling. I must be searching for something, because I’m still looking. If I have any spare moment, at my desk, at a red light, in the waiting room, I’m scrolling. What I’m REALLY looking for, is obviously not there, but I think, under the right circumstances it can point us to what we are looking for.
Beauty, Truth, and Goodness on the internet
We are in pursuit of these three things, whether we realize it or not. By following the right accounts, we can actually be encouraged and allow the images of the internet to, for once, show us something about God. It can make us FEEL His love that He poured into creation. It is because of this pursuit that we are disorderedly scrolling and looking to be satiated by the images and stories we read.
I pose this question, though: What if social media wasn’t the end, but was an arrow that pointed us to what really fulfills us?
If we all made a decision to use our social media accounts to communicate the message of the Gospel, that would be powerful. Our world would change.
Here’s some hints that help me step up my social media game for the sake of The Kingdom:
1. Don’t post in real-time
Be present in each moment. If you are taking the time to take the perfect picture and write the perfect caption while you’re grabbing coffee with a friend, you are missing out on the gift of the person in front of you. By posting a picture in the moment, we are looking to be known. We want our followers to know what we are doing at that very moment. Let the people there with you know you. Better yet, recognize that desire to be seen and be known and let the Lord speak to the depth of that desire.
2. There is Room for Imperfection on the Gram
THE WORLD IS STARVING FOR AUTHENTICITY. We are looking for someone else to say to us “Hey, I struggle too,” or “You’re not alone.” The reason our thumbs don’t stop, is because we aren’t finding real people. We are finding images that are seemingly flawless and are not realistic. Or we only see the “highlights” of someone’s life. What about the hard stuff?
What a difference it would make to share our real stories! How many people could we impact just by sharing our brokenness. I’m not saying to pour your entire heart out in 140 characters, but to some degree share who you are. Share the things that make you happy and the things that break your heart.
In the verse that St. Paul writes in his letter to the Thessalonians he says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Part of communicating the Gospel is integrating it into our very lives and applying it to what we say and do.
3. You are worth far more than the number of “likes” you get
Brothers and sisters, it’s not the number of followers, friends, or likes you receive that give you your worth. It is the Father in Heaven that desires to give you EVERYTHING. I can understand the longing to be accepted, but this is a desire of the flesh. It won’t last.
Mother Teresa once said:
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
I imagine her saying this to me, now:
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many Instagram followers we have, how many times we were retweeted, how many “likes” we had on our Facebook posts…”
Like I mentioned above, people are starving, and they are turning to social media platforms to find refuge. Serve them there. Point them to Jesus while standing on the highest rooftop we have today.
4. Ask yourself “Do they see me in my feed?”
It didn’t take me long to realize that I could make myself look exactly how I wanted people to see me on Instagram. Let’s be honest, though, no one is as cool as they are on the internet. I don’t want to look back at my profile 50 years from now and say “that’s not me.” I want people to hear my voice and know that my profile correctly captured the essence of who God created me to be.
If my profile is an account of my life, it shouldn’t just be my highlights that people see. They need to see the mess. They should also see me fighting for virtue, they should feel connected to the people that I love deeply, and they should know that I’m not perfect.
Jesus didn’t hold back from sharing His pain with the world. In fact, His pain brought us life and shed light on authentic love that casts out the fear unworthiness. Your story matters. Share it with your friends.
I’ll leave you with this: Recently I was, once again, let down by relying on my own strength. I was asking God when I would be able to stop trying to control everything, when my pain would stop, and begging Him to tell me that I’m worth it. I felt Jesus look down at me from the crucifix and ask me, “Is this not enough for you?” Jesus was sharing His TRUE self with me—and all of humanity. He shows us how to love and be loved. Our message on social media should be the same. It will change the world.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8