Even though I initially resisted the temptation to join social media, I finally joined Facebook in 2008 and Twitter in 2011. I also started blogging (Google Blogger) in 2011.
My initial resistance to social media was due to the fact that it seemed to be feeding people’s vanity. Do others really care about the picture of the meal I’m eating? Aren’t I showing my immature, self-centered craving for the affirmation of others when I post a selfie and then look to see how many “likes” it gets?
Yet, among those questions, I saw three wonderful benefits of social media that helped me to take the plunge. Here are three of the top reasons why I continue to use these mediums of communication.
1. It provides more opportunities to influence.
As a pastor, I am called to lead and influence others. While that leadership can refer to a lot of different things, it’s primary aim is holiness in those that I shepherd.
Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
As you can see in the previous verse, my influence is primary to what I do because I’m going to give an account for all who I was called to lead and influence. If someone misses Heaven or if someone misses any eternal rewards, it had better not be my fault.
So, my primary use of social media over the years has been to post verses, great Christian quotes, or personal devotional thoughts. I realize that my job is not to simply preach sermons on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Among my many other responsibilities, I want to give people something on Mondays through Saturdays to encourage them and call them to holiness.
2. It informs my congregation of what I’m doing.
Before I became a pastor, I thought I realized what a typical week was like for those that I called, “Pastor.” After I became a pastor, I realized that I previously had no clue.
So, to help with that void of information, I have used social media to let people periodically know what it’s like in my world.
A few years ago, I would regularly write “Ministry Visit” and post the location of the hospital or nursing home that I was at. However, I have backed off from that. I felt that since others don’t necessarily post their work routines, neither should I.
I’m presently trying to strike a balance. I only periodically post about something I’m doing. Typically, posts of this nature have to do with what is going on at Westside Baptist Church.
3. It allows my congregation to get to know me a little better.
Kim and I have heard so many stories from the folks in the churches in which I have pastored. People invite us into their world when they let us know of things that others might not necessarily know. We are overburdened with care and grief when they tell us of a serious pain they are struggling with.
Yet, I periodically have heard in my years of ministry that some people don’t feel like they know us. On its face, it sounds as if we aren’t transparent or don’t spend time with others. Both of these reasons can be easily debunked by those who know us. We typically try to be transparent and try to be fully present when we are with others.
The reason why some people say that they don’t know us is because they don’t typically ask about us and then listen.
The selfless art of caring for and listening to others is going-the-way-of-the-dodo. After all, when is the last time someone asked you about you and then sat back in their chair as they intently listened to your response? I think we both know the answer to that question. Because of this, individuals in our society are becoming much more lonely. You might be surprised at just how many people are struggling with a deep-seated loneliness. Our society is becoming much too selfish and self-centered and we are suffering the consequences of it.
Yet, I think this phenomena is particularly true of those in ministry. As I have talked with other pastors and their wives, they have consistently talked of a lifestyle where they are regularly being emptied by the cares of others while having virtually no one who feels compelled to restore in them the emotional collateral that was taken out. Many ministers and their wives feel as if theirs is a calling to be regularly running on empty and working against a relentless tendency toward loneliness.
So, rather than force others to listen to our story in one-sided conversations, I periodically use social media to reveal tidbits about our story. It’s a way that I can allow others to get to know us a little more without forcing them to listen to it or read it.
There are certainly other reasons why I enjoy using social media but these three are at the top of the list. In the comments section below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the benefits you have discovered in using social media.