4 Ways to Hack Social Media for Spiritual Growth
“God is not just saving individuals and preparing them for heaven; rather, he is creating a people among whom he can live and who in their life together will reproduce God’s life and character.”—Gordon Fee
Social media has become a natural and important part of many lives. A recent survey says that 79% of smartphone users are on their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. For those 18–24, the number rises to 89%.
The question for Christians isn’t about whether these tools are good or bad, it’s about whether these tools are contributing to, or detracting from, our spiritual formation.
If we’re intentional about the way we approach social media, it can be more than a tool for communicating—it can be a divinely used device to make us more like Christ. Here are a couple ways to use social media as a spiritual discipline:
Set aside some time occasionally and pray through your Facebook or Twitter feeds.
Social media is often an invitation into some of of your friends’ struggles and challenges. As you scan through your feed, it’s perfect opportunity to remind yourself to be, be first of all, a vehicle of grace.
Don’t comment—not even to let them know you’re praying for them. There’s value in learning care for the needs of others without drawing attention to it.
First of all, you’re not going to agree with everything your friends say. In fact, some of it will offend you—but that cuts both ways. I guarantee that not everyone agrees with you either. This is a great opportunity to learn to be a peacemaker.
The first part of peacemaking is learning to stay unruffled. It’s too easy to allow yourself to get worked up. How can Christians expect to deal with personal attacks with humility and patience if they can’t even see something they disagree with without getting upset?
Become a student of your personal responses. We naturally assume when we start to get upset that someone else is responsible for our reaction. They’re not; we are.
As you scroll through your feeds, put enough space between stimulus and response to scrutinize what you react to. Then stop.
It’s totally appropriate to take part in online dialogue, but don’t be contentious. Be assured that your online interaction is conditioning how you see and respond to people in other areas of your life. You need to be intentional to ensure it’s building a better you.
If you’re thoughtful, hardworking, and interesting, you can build a strong online platform in the midst of all the noise. But it doesn’t come without a dark side.
There’s a lot of shameless self promotion involved in the online game—and it can be a trap. God knows, it’s a battle that I’ve not always done a good job fighting.
But that’s not the only kind of self promotion you find online. We’re all guilty of creating an online persona that’s dishonest by degrees. We want others to think we have a better family than we do. We want to appear more successful, altruistic, intelligent, and funnier than we actually are.
If I’m creating an online image that encourages others to see me as more together and successful than I actually am, everyone suffers. I need to be brutally honest with myself about my motives behind how I communicate things about myself. I say brutally honest because the first person I fool with my updates is myself.
One spiritually formative thing we can do is to occasionally disengage from social media. A strong argument can be made that we’re missing more with our constant media engagement than we’d miss by disengaging.
If I’m honest, I’m checking various media channels almost constantly. And this lack of self control is inevitably seeping into other areas of my life.
It’s important to establish some impulse control, and one way to do that is to establish principles for my media engagement. Being serious about spiritual formation means I realize my habits touch deeper areas within me than they appear to.
What are some ways you use social media as a spiritual formation tool? Leave me a comment.