We’ve all seen them. We’ve all read them. We’ve all re-posted them.
Yep… me too. Guilty as charged.
THE LISTS. Like God’s promise in Genesis to Abraham about his offspring, social media/internet lists are becoming as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore. Lists for every conceivable vocation, location, and 12-step program in 15 easy steps. For someone who is in the ministry (like me), it seems like these lists grow faster than the weeds in my flower beds at home. For ministers and ministry-types, the topics can include (but are certainly not limited to) things like…
10 Things You are Doing Right in Your Ministry.
20 Things You are Doing Wrong in Your Ministry.
22 Things You’d Be Doing Right if Your Weren’t Doing Them Wrong (in Your Ministry).
You get the idea. Can I hear an “amen”?
And while some lists are totally informational and harmless — lists like “10 Things to See on Your Trip to Vermont” or “The 15 Top Dining Spots in Coos Bay, Oregon”, others are less so. Others go to the heart of who we are, not just as organizations, but who God made us as individuals.
So here is my list. It’s short — just 5 points — so here we go…
5 Things You Should Consider Before Re-posting Lists
- Who is posting your list of choice? Just because someone has a popular blog or website does not necessarily make them an authority on every given subject. Before you re-post something as Gospel that could have a far reaching effect on someone else’s spirit, make sure it actually IS Gospel. Just because you agree with it does not make it right or accurate, it just means it struck a nerve with you for some reason. There is a good chance that, if you agree with it but it does not line up with the Word of God, you might need to step away from the screen and do a little soul searching yourself. Regardless of the authors “credentials”, you should always do your due diligence before parroting anything. Even experts make mistakes.
The Bottom Line: Don’t listen to every voice. Choose carefully those you allow to speak into your life and destiny.
- Beware the “Guilt-List Post.” I think 20 years from now, we will have an entirely new and thriving area of psychology brought on by psychoses born in the realm of social media. I am seeing more and more where we have gotten to a place in which public statements on social media are taking the place of disagreements that should be handled in private conversations; primary among these are what I would term the “Guilt-List Post“… someone who disagrees with something, and posts a list on social media or a blog to add validity to their argument. For ministry-types, whether it is preaching styles, music tastes, or witnessing ideas, people often re-post lists because they either feel guilty, or are trying to “guilt” someone else into seeing things their way, all because some “expert” says “this is what you are doing wrong”.
In Isaiah 1, the Bible says…
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18
Social media posting, messaging, and emailing will never be a good substitute for sitting down face to face and reasoning things out with another person. Passive-aggressive chastisement on Facebook is not what Jesus was talking about when He gave us His words in Matthew 18 about how brothers and sisters should deal with disagreement and offense. Unfortunately, it is fast becoming a cheap, ill-used, and misdirected substitute.
The Bottom Line: Social media posts and emails are breeding grounds for misunderstandings and confusion. Learn the art of conversing and (more importantly) listening.
- The Self-Aggrandizement Post. The opposite of the Guilt-List Post is the Self-Aggrandizement Post. This is posting a list to reaffirm what you are doing right, and to let everyone else across the world know what you are doing right as well. While affirmation is fine (and we all need it), I’m not sure posting a subjective list based on one person’s opinion as your basis for success is the best way to go about it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 say it better than any 12-point list…
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. ~ Matthew 7:18-20
As someone wiser than me once said…
A man’s gift makes room for him,
And brings him before great men. ~ Proverbs 18:16
In other words, when you let your gifts and talent do the talking, is doesn’t take a lot of words for people to take notice.
The Bottom Line: Memorize Proverbs 18:16, and remember: “A little humility goes a long way.”
- What works for them may not work for you. Celebrating the success of others is great, but one person’s (or organization’s) recipe for success does not necessarily mean it will work for you or yours. While there are some basic, common-sense elements to success that we should all strive to maintain (hard work, diligence, kindness, fiscal responsibility), the fact is that what works in Chattanooga, TN — “the buckle of the Bible-Belt” — might not necessarily work in a place like Oakland, CA. A church in Birmingham, AL that has a thriving bus ministry might not be a great model for a church in Manhattan, KS. There’s an old saying that goes “Bloom where you’re planted.” If you are “planted” in a place that is hard and rocky, you are going to have to get more creative in order to be a success than someone who is “planted” in fertile soil. In fact, you may find that your definition of success is markedly different.
The Bottom Line: Find your sufficiency in God. Allow Him to define your measure of success.
- What has God told you to do? This really is the heart of the matter: What is the revelation God has given YOU? What is the call of God on YOUR life or the life of your organization? Many times in the Bible (and throughout history, for that matter), we have seen God reveal Himself in unusual ways, and give individuals or groups an unusual call or command. For example:
Moses parted the Red Sea simply by lifting his staff and stretching out his hand.
The children of Israel leveled the walls of Jericho with a shout and the sound of trumpets.
A kid named David took out a giant warrior named Goliath with a single stone.
John The Baptist subsisted on a diet of locusts and wild honey.
In the end, while advice is good and good advice should always be considered, nothing can replace the calling of God for you. It might look unusual. It might be unconventional. It might be what the “experts” call crazy. However, if it truly is from God, then you can rest assured that, even if it seems chaotic or way out of the norm, He will be in the middle of it to guide your hand every step of the way.
The Bottom Line: No ten-step plan to success will ever make you as successful as the single plan of God for your life and circumstances.
So be encouraged if you are a work in progress. If you have a true word from God, He is going to make a way in whatever wilderness you find yourself.
And if you don’t have that word yet, just remember what God said in Jeremiah 29:13…
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”