Social Media Pep Talk!

Today's blog is brought to you by Reasons for Hope's very own Dan Lietha, illustrator extraordinaire, speaker, and committed Christ-follower.
Have you ever seen a post on social media that contained errors or possibly even offended you? Did you reply to that post on a mission to inform and correct the person that posted it? How did that go?  From personal experience, sadly at times, this type of intervention does not go well.
Social media is great for staying connected with friends and family, however, it is also ripe for conflict with so many different points of view on display for all to see and for so many to comment upon these views.  Too many times it becomes an ugly battleground of differing opinions and these conflicting points of view become words of war. So how do we as Christians represent Christ on social media, particularly in a world where just being a Christian is increasingly seen as offensive?
Here are 7 tips to consider when entering and engaging others in the realm of social media:

1. Do a self-check before going online.

What is your purpose in going to social media today? Is it just to scroll around and see what’s going on with your friends and family or are you also looking for opportunities to share and shine for Christ? Are you ready to see posts that you will disagree with and ready to respond (if you deem it necessary) in a way that would glorify God? Many fall into the trap of making a comment and then defending it to prove they are right. Is being right your goal or is helping others out of love and concern your goal? Check your attitude and perspective about these things before getting on social media.

Colossians 4:5-6
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

2. What is your attitude toward your social media audience?

Do you see them in the light of eternity and their need for a Savior? It’s fun and interesting to see what is going on in their lives, but their posts can lead to so much more. Look for needs that can be met. Watch for trials to which a kind and encouraging word can provide a lift. Comments that display views on life and death can provide excellent avenues to spiritual things. These insights into their lives can be a start to a conversation that changes their lives now and their eternal destination. Even the offensive posts, handled with care and tact can offer opportunities to share Christ. When you engage, remember, truth and love go together!

1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

Romans 10:15
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Mark 16:15
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

3.  Don’t forget to include God in your time online!

Are you actively depending on God in your efforts to represent Him? It’s easy to jump in, trusting in our own abilities, and fail to recognize our need to rely on the one who gave us those abilities. Stop and ask for His help and blessing for your time online. Ask God for opportunities to share HIs good news and for the words to do it. What a difference that will make!

Matthew 10:20
For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Luke 12:12
For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

4.  Post as many positive messages as possible to set a precedent for how others may perceive you.

With so many troublesome issues in the news these days and seeing those we know embrace and promote very unbiblical views and behaviors, it can be easy to go on a critique and correcting spree on your social media feed. One problem with this is that being seen as always pointing out errors, even if you are correct, becomes tiresome very quickly and you will lose your audience. The unfriend button is only a click away. Look for opportunities to post positive, uplifting, and helpful things. Congratulate and celebrate loved ones for accomplishments, anniversaries, and birthdays. And it will help to do more than just click an emoji or a thumbs up. Post helpful information that will bless those that see it. Have a positive presence so that when you make a post or comment that could be seen as negative, it will have a better chance of being considered by those that see it.

Proverbs 15:4
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

5. Impulse posting can and will come back to bite you.

Avoid knee-jerk rapid responses and posts. Social media is meant to be a fast, scroll, post, and go experience, but this is part of the reason it can also be so filled with conflict. Think through what you are about to post! Consider those in your audience. How will certain members take it? Will it cause misunderstanding and unnecessary hurt? Will this post be something you’ll need to apologize for later? Is it worth it? SLOW DOWN! Give yourself time to ponder before you post or respond.  Especially if you feel anger entering the picture.

Ephesians 5:15–17
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

6. Some online exchanges should be taken out of public view.

Should things become heated or too personal, consider taking the conversation to a private form of communication such as email, texting, or even a phone call. A dynamic of public discussions that can get in the way of really communicating is being seen by an audience. One of you makes a comment, it gets criticized, and then it’s a matter of being right in the eyes of the public and defending that comment.  A one-on-one exchange of dialog helps take this obstacle out of the way and more meaningful sharing of ideas can take place.

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

7.  Be ready and willing to apologize.

We all say things we should not have said and in an online conversation, it’s all too easy to stick your foot in your mouth. Humility is good for the world to see and it can help defuse conflict. Christians are often seen as being self-righteous, so displaying the ability to admit when you’ve said something wrong and ask for forgiveness goes a long way to show that not to be true.

James 4:10
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Proverbs 18:12
Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.

As a help to my fellow believers that wish to represent Christ well in the social media realm, I made this cartoon as a reminder of the mission we are to be on and to ask the One we are to represent for the help we need in doing so. Please post it and bless others that need this reminder. 
And I’ve also provided a version that you can use as a cover photo for your social media page. May God bless you as you use this modern Roman road as a vehicle for sharing Christ with a lost and dying world.
Author Bio:
Dan Lietha joined Reasons for Hope in 2019 as our cartoonist and illustrator, developing images and speaker slides that challenge viewers to think biblically.  “Truth Jabs” is his newest cartoon feature, and he also produces an online educational video series called “Draw It & Know It!” instructing viewers in how to draw animals and think about them with a biblical worldview. Dan loves camp ministry and has spoken at camps and other venues over the past 15 years.  He lives in northern Kentucky with his wife, Marcia, and daughter, Hannah.
To learn more about Dan or to book him as a speaker for an upcoming event, please click HERE.

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