As a missionary I find myself using social-media websites such as Facebook, or Twitter for ministry updates instead of sending monthly newsletters (though I do send at least one of those a month). There are few reasons for this.
- It’s common for people to change their email addresses so they no longer receive the updates, or they go to a persons spam folder
- Individuals spend a lot of time of social-media sites (it’s a more popular form of communication)
- and its easier to share these posts with others
While this updated technology is a blessing, it almost makes sharing information “too easy.” In other words of frustration and anger, oversharing, approval seeking (sharing a story just so people will feel sorry for you), or personal opinion on an issue instead of Scripture can be shared just as easily as a prayer request.
Because of that before hitting post or tweet I ask myself “does this help others learn more about my ministry?” If not then 90% of the time I don’t share it.
This question and what I like to call “the 90% rule” helps ensure my online communication glorifies God instead of being all about me. But then there are random moments of life (the other 10%) that have nothing to do with my ministry, but still should be shared.
Tuesday morning I started putting together paperwork to apply for an extension to my visitors visa in St. Vincent. One of the more important items was a printout of my ticket back to the States on January 2nd for two-weeks. This ticket proves to the SVG government I’m not trying to stay permanently on a short-term visa (will be applying for a long-term one soon) so without it there was no way my extension would be granted.
I calmly started looking for the ticket in the suitcase where it was always kept, and got a little confused when it wasn’t. This led to searching other suitcases, bags, and notebooks. By the time I started going through drawers an hour later my emotions had become concern, and after all the drawers were empty concern had become panic!
In the midst of my panic the Lord through the Holy Spirit said “why don’t you ask people to pray on facebook?” My first thought was “Lord there’s no time to do that I have clean this house top to bottom and find the ticket, or drive down to the airport and get another printout of the ticket!” But thankfully I eventually sat down and shared the post.
Thanks be to the Lord I found the ticket a few hours later, but that wasn’t what surprised me about Tuesday. It was the fact that forty people liked that request, and ten commented they were praying (fifty ended up liking my post about the answered prayer).
In a way Tuesdays experience changed my thinking about how I communicate on social-media…..It is possible that God gets glory even in our posts that are more random and display weakness.
Going a bit deeper my refusal to share anything other than ministry updates can often come from a desire to hide the panicked, or weak moments of life. It is possible to share too many of those moments, but acting like they don’t exist is just as bad.
So starting week I’m going to try to share more non-update posts (say 80% ministry 20% personal). This isn’t to make myself look good, but comes from the knowledge God can get as much Glory from the moments I run around like a chicken with its head cut off as he does from ministry.