Honestly – Facebook can be very, very problematic – but especially when you’re a Christian leader.
Famed Christian author, Josh McDowell once told me that “Anything that can be misinterpreted – will be misinterpreted.” He cautioned me to always be as thorough as I can to communicate clearly with people – and give them no opportunity to twist my words.
It’s hard to do that with Facebook though – for a number of reasons. Let’s look at few of them.
First – wall posts and messaging can cause drama. I have to write very carefully to avoid people interpreting a tone into something I am writing them. Have you ever wrote something to someone with a kind intent – and they interpret you saying these words with a sarcastic, even rude, tone while you are clueless as to why they are mad?
Second, I often have to be very careful of not giving people the impression that when I post a thought or scripture – that it is directed towards a person or a specific situation. Have you ever updated your status with a great quote or thought – and then someone gets mad at you because they think you are writing it about them?
The third issue is, by far, the one I am presently learning to avoid: Using discernment on what to “LIKE.” If there is anything that I have to be careful of – it is making sure I “LIKE” properly. Let me give you an example of when I am tempted to “LIKE”- but have learned not to do so. Someone writes a prayer request because of an illness. If I decide to “LIKE” it – will the reader think I “LIKE” the fact that this person might die or will the reader assume that I “LIKE” it because I will commit to pray?
I do not want someone to think that I “LIKE” the fact that they have cancer, but – truly – I have encountered people who will always assume the worst possible interpretation of a Facebook “LIKE.” Assuredly – we all know there is no shortage of ignorance in the world, neither is there a shortage of people trying to make others look bad. So I often take this into consideration before I “LIKE” a post.
Similar to this is the final problem in which someone adds me to their charitable cause. I will receive a never-ending list notifications!
“HELP ME RAISE MONEY TO FEED POOR PEOPLE IN AFRICA!,” “SEND ME TO JAMAICA ON A MISSION TRIP!,” or the worst ones are medical related saying, “HELP ME RAISE MONEY FOR A HEART TRANSPLANT SO I DON’T DIE.” Even if I have donated to the cause – when I leave the group or event, it will blatantly announce to everyone that “Rev. Ben Knotts” has left. And if you don’t think people will notice – think again, especially when you are the “Reverend” Ben Knotts.
“I just can’t believe you left our cause!”
“I cannot believe a supposed man of God would turn away from the hungry!”
“Aren’t you supposed to care for the lost? Then support me so I can reach them!”
I am a more active Facebook user than most preachers are. I try to respond to every message, every prayer request, and every cause. I am also sure I am not alone in people misinterpreting my words and deeds on the worlds’ most popular social network – so maybe we can all repent of presuming the worst of intentions exist in someone’s words and deeds on Facebook. That’s one sermon – I think we can all say “Amen!” too.
Php 1:9 “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…”