When Tweets Kill

In the social media era we live in, I see a danger for young people. It may not be what you think though. I'm not talking about too much time away (disconnected) from relationships, or, too much information (TMI) shared. What I am talking about is how easy it can be to live our lives through somebody else's tweet or post. Are we raising a generation of young people who celebrate social media 'tweets' without actually thinking critically or even thinking at all on their own?

Recently I heard a politician on a national news program state his political opinion and comments by beginning his thoughts with, "I was reading the other day about..." He then began forming his policy statement from what someone in the media had reported. The more I listened to this politician I was wondering what HE thought. Give us leaders today who govern from personal conviction.

The same can be said of a sports enthusiast who can recite all kinds of statistical data and historical facts about a sport, but, have no experience in the sport by actually playing it. I would much rather listen to someone who writes or speaks and understands the countless practices, multiple injuries, and thrill of victory and defeat. And not someone who simply knows what others have done. 

In the same way, I believe social media can create a kind of fantasy in our own spiritual lives. A fantasy that we are wiser or more spiritual than we really are. A fantasy that lives what others think more than we are actually living ourselves. A fantasy where the teachings of others actually become our 'ghost-life'. Almost like a spiritual elixir that makes us feel like someone we are not. If we are not careful, social media can become our faux online life that we are so excited about, but, in reality, are not executing. Jeremiah explained a generation who did not live the commandments of the Lord this way. "They are near in their mouth, but far from their mind." (12.4)

When is the last time you sought truth on your own? When you spent time in meditation and soaking in the Word? In conversation with young leaders today I hear many of them quote their favorite authors. I see many young leaders social media accounts retweeting the latest thought that another leader has tweeted. Maybe young leaders do not realize how much time and effort was taken by these older leaders before they shared their wisdom for all to see. This week I was reading a brand new blog from a young leader who just began their site and the topic was taken from another well-known speaker and his thoughts on revival. As I read this blog, I was thinking to myself, "What does this young man think about revival?" Could it be that it is easier for us to celebrate the wisdom of others, rather than to seek after wisdom ourselves?

You see, it can become easy to live vicariously through Billy Graham, Leonard Sweet, Lecrae, Jefferson Bethke, Judah Smith, Carl Lentz, or Richie Wilkerson, Jr. But, if we are not careful, these great thinkers could stop us from thinking our own thoughts. These great authors could stop us from writing our own words. These great revolutionaries could stop us from living revolutionary lives in our own circles. 

Hear me. I am not discouraging young leaders to think like their mentors. Or to stop reading their favorite authors. Or to cease from retweeting their favorite leaders. This is a challenge that young thinkers, authors, and leaders would simply be inspired by the previous generation to also think, write, and lead themselves in this culture. I want to leave you with a few thoughts that will help you determine if you are leading today with your own thoughts and ideas, or, if you are merely living a faux spiritual life by retweeting what everyone else is saying:

1. When is the last time you had an original thought or idea? Look through your social media posts and see when the last time you posted an original thought or idea was. Don't underestimate yourself. You have the potential to think, write, and lead too.
2. Take some time today and read one of your favorite leaders. But, when you are done, take the time to think through the topic and form your own thoughts on the topic.
3. Listen to a sermon of one of your favorite preachers. And when you are done write your own message.
4. Take time every week to think, write, and lead from your own thoughts. Do not miss opportunities to allow the Spirit to create originality through your personal meditation.
5. Keep a journal, open a blog, create a Biblegateway profile, create a file on your computer for original thoughts, and, while you are listening to a speaker, keep notes in your bible. These are great ways to gather your original thoughts and ideas.

Social media is not the problem. Blogging is not an evil. And it is not wrong to surf and take these in and become inspired by leaders. What needs to happen is the takeaway. What am I going to do with this information? How can the thoughts of others motivate me to live in greater responsibility? 

There is no doubt of the role that mentors and leaders play in our lives. And I also understand that there are no new thoughts in our world. But, the bible also speaks of the importance for every believer to own our faith and to do something about the world we live in. And that is one of the key roles of the Holy Spirit to come upon us and give us everything we need for life. The book of Luke ends with a revealing statement about how Christ illuminates our minds in the scriptures and then empowers us with the Spirit to do great things. John 16 speaks of the Holy Spirit and His role in our lives to reveal the things of the Father and to lead us into truth. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul speaks of the honor with which we should respect our leaders, but, in the following few verses demands that the younger should act upon the faith each of us take from these leaders.

When do 'tweets' kill? When they are celebrated without application. This blog is not about discouraging you from reading, retweeting, and being excited about accessible information from your favorite leaders. It is much more about encouraging you to do something with the information.