Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:)
I’ve been thinking a lot about social media lately.
I’ve made a few changes in my life the last few weeks. For starters, I cut my hours at work in half, and decided to dedicate the second half of every work day to writing, publishing, marketing, etc. Basically I realized I wasn’t doing enough of the things I love doing recently! Something had to change.
One thing I’ve always wanted to improve on is social media.
For so long, I’ve stressed about having the perfect account. Gaining followers and hoarding likes, all in the name of “marketing” for my book. I’ve tried posting every single day, using Canva templates and marketing hacks. I’ve tried ignoring my writing instagram account for months. Both stressed me out.
But see now how I’ve approached social media wrong this whole time.
I’ve spent the last few weeks observing some of my favorite influencers on Instagram to see why I love following them. Not that I want to be an influencer in particular, but that I want to emulate the success I see. And I realized: I didn’t follow them because they used fancy templates, a consistent posting schedule, or shared cool products. I like following them because they share their authentic lives and it was entertaining, encouraging, and edifying. Most pushed me closer to Christ by sharing thoughts I hadn’t thought of, or scripture that had grown dusty in my mind. Some were just lighthearted, wholesome entertainment.
I realized I was so stressed about social media before because I thought everything had to be perfect. But the truth is, my followers don’t want my perfection. They want to see authenticity that points them to Christ and reminds them they’re not alone.
In short, I had to do a heart check.
I thought about some of the accounts I follow that use social media to build the kingdom. They didn’t post incessantly on themselves, what they’ve done, what they’ve created, or what they’re thinking. Instead, they posted constantly about what God did in their lives, the beautiful things God’s given them, the truth God’s shared with them. I want to be like that.
So I’m taking a new approach.
My writing Instagram account has long since been a series of feeble marketing pursuits that have only left me stressed and anxious. No more.
I don’t want to give up on social media entirely, because I honestly think it’s an incredible tool to use for the kingdom. I’m new to it all, still pretty bad at it, and I still need major help from the Holy Spirit to guide me. But I want to give this a try. I want to start over.
So I archived all my previous posts on my writing account. And I built a set of rules I’m making myself follow each time I post. Here they are:
Rules for using Instagram/social media well:
- I must make my page about others, good things, and Jesus. Not myself.
- My biggest goal is to glorify God, point people to Jesus, and shine light on the gospel.
- My second biggest goal is to have fun! Be authentically myself and share the things that bring me joy.
- My third biggest goal is to share what I believe will improve my follower’s lives and bring them joy.
- I will never live life looking for content. I will live life enjoying moments, knowing content will come if I surrender memories to God instead of hoarding them to myself. And sometimes, it’s okay if I don’t capture a moment or share something I experience.
- I will honor my followers. I will respond to DM’s at least every week (even though messages are a struggle for me).
- I won’t let social media be a stressor. This is supposed to be fun! If at any point I’m stressed, I need to take a step back and reevaluate.
- I will ask permission. I will be sensitive to the people who are featured on my page and respect their boundaries.
These rules have become a guidebook for my social media quest, with the Bible obviously coming first. You might think it’s a bit militant, but I’m beginning to understand how easy it is to slip into the enemy’s traps when using social media. You can post amazing things on Instagram, but the temptations to seek attention, take honor for yourself, and worship your own image are still strong. And I want to do everything I can to fight those temptations.
I built one more list, similar to the first, but something I’m forcing myself to read every time before I post. It’s a series of questions. They go like this:
Questions I ask myself before posting:
- Is this post about myself? Or is it about Jesus, others, or things that bring me joy?
- Why am I posting this? If I’m not posting to:
- Share Jesus and the gospel…
- Authentically share things that bring me joy…
- Or share things that I think will improve my followers lives… Don’t post it!
- Did I live in/enjoy the moment I’m posting about?
- Is this post honoring and edifying my followers?
- Was it stressful creating this post?
- Do I have full permission to post this? Am I giving credit where credit is due?
- Did I talk to God about this?
I know this list might seem a little radical, a little dramatic, a little aggressive. But one thing I’ve noticed since my relationship with God started is that He really does flip all the tables in your heart. He doesn’t just want you on Sundays; he wants you every day. And not just every day, but every moment. He wants us to take every thought and make it captive to Christ, every action and surrender to his desires for our lives.
As tempted as I am on social media to focus on myself and my accomplishments in selfish ambition, the Holy Spirit now owns my heart. And guys, He commands what is right and wrong, not me. Now that Jesus fills my heart, I can’t help but feel a tightness in my chest when I sin. Not that it wasn’t there before, but that I didn’t listen to it before. And now, it’s louder than ever.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes on social media. I know I still will. It’s tough when you find a good picture of yourself (which if you’re like me, is rare) and you feel attractive in it. It’s tough when you know as soon as you click ‘post’, the hearts will start rolling in and you’ll feel an ounce more confident than you were before.
It’s also tough when the business world tells you how to use social media to leverage your page to make money. There are thousands of tips, tricks, and hacks to monetize your posts and gain fame so you can enjoy success and wealth.
But I don’t want those reasons anymore.
And I think that’s why I was so stressed about social media all these years; I was doing it for the wrong reasons. To feel good. Or to “build my network.” Or to sell my book and make money. Or to build my platform of ready book-buyers for my next release.
God knows you aren’t a number. There’s a person behind this screen, reading these words, and they deserve to be treated as such. And the way I was posting before was only about myself, treating my followers like digits. Or maybe soda machines that dispense something sweet the moment I put a quarter in.
Here’s the thing: my God could make me famous in the blink of an eye. He could make one of my posts go viral and turn my book into a bestseller overnight. He could rack up my followers into the millions ~ he’s multiplied resources before. And yet he does not.
So with the resources I have now, I will steward them well.
I know God has the power give me the desires of my heart. But while I live without them fulfilled, I will steward what I have well, because that’s what God has given me in this season.
So I’m trying to steward social media well. It’s not going to be perfect in my eyes, and I’m gonna have to tell myself that’s okay. I’m not going to get a ton of likes at the start, probably not for a while. I’m not going to sell a ton of books, and that’s okay.
I’m just going to do what God wants me to do.
And in that, there’s so much more rest and freedom and fun. I’ve gotten excited about making reels and taking cool pictures and building videos for the first time in a while, because I’m just sharing things that genuinely bring me joy. And it’s fun! Without the pressure to perform for this world, the purpose to please my King has much more peace and fulfillment. I love it.
So I guess that whole long rant about social media is to say: things are going to be a little different around here. Sometimes I’ll have things to say. Sometimes I won’t. Sometimes I’ll share something that made me thank God. Sometimes I’ll share something he told me. Sometimes I won’t, because he doesn’t want me to.
Kingdom living is really hard. I’m really bad at it. But I’m learning how to get better. How to listen to God before anything else. How to talk with him about everything. How to open my hands over and over again. Not just to accept his grace, but to let go of the things I can’t hold onto very well.
And I haven’t done this before, but I would appreciate it if you could pray for me as I jump into this! Gosh, it feels weird asking for prayer haha. I just feel exceedingly insufficient for this task, and I’m relying on the Holy Spirit’s discernment as I attempt to use social media for the kingdom. So prayer for obedience and courage to listen to God’s still quiet voice would be amazing.
I guess something you could ask yourself is: what are your reasons?
What are your reasons for doing things? Does God like those reasons?
I’m not saying you have to go dedicate your life to ministry in order to please God. Worship comes in many different flavors. God isn’t confined to being glorified only in song. God can give purpose to any job, any gift, any skill, any life.
But are you walking in that purpose with the things you do?
It’s the kind of question that will punch you in the gut until you’re nauseous at the realization of how selfish your intentions really are. But it’s good to think about.
Anyway, that’s all for today. Jesus loves you and sees you, friend. Have an amazing weekend!