... we weren’t made for glory. We were made to give God glory.
Ah, technology. Has there ever been a more complex, love-hate relationship?
I don’t know how many times I’ve wished I could quit my social media accounts. As an author, I stay in the online game largely because my publishers expect me to market my books, and in today’s time, that means having an online platform. I’ve gotten frustrated time and time again because while social media tends to bring out the worst in others, it can also bring out the worst in you. Nothing is more unsettling than looking up from your phone and realizing you’ve created a mini shrine to yourself.
It’s hard to be on social media and not fall into that trap, isn’t it? Terms like “followers” and “fans” certainly don’t make it easier to keep a healthy perspective. As an author, it’s especially hard to find a balance of “hey, buy my book” while also helping people see you’re not arrogant, narcissistic, or even desperate. You just want your publisher to renew your contract, and that requires sales. Plus, you worked hard to create a story you hope will entertain and uplift others, and you want them to read it!
But talking about yourself or your own products 24/7 is a surefire way to push your potential audience away. It starts to feel yucky. Even when our efforts work and sales increase or numbers rise, it doesn’t bring satisfaction.
Why? Because we weren’t made for glory. We were made to give God glory.
Consider John the Baptist. If anyone had a “right” to enjoy his fame, it was John. He’d invested his whole life in the ministry of Christ before Jesus even showed on the scene. John the Baptist was dedicated, even in the face of mockery and persecution.
John 3:22-30 (ESV) "After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.'”
Sounds to me like a perfect opportunity for John to be jealous. I have no idea if this was the goal of the men pointing out the facts, but regardless, john could have easily thought something prideful or defensive. He’d been the one baptizing people for years. But look at John’s response:
"John answered, 'A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, "I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him." The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.'”
Yes, we have products to promote and books to sell and friends to engage with, and a message of some sort we want the world to hear. But may we all follow John’s example on social media and make much of Christ above all else.
Here are five ways to avoid falling into the social media trap:
1. Don’t Compare Yourself
So much easier said than done, I know. This first point could be its own novel. To keep things short and sweet, remember that someone else’s highlight is not their entire day. That mom posting about the cutesy, healthy Bento Box lunch for her first-grader probably has dirty laundry piled in her recliner, too. The fit mom at the gym has her own struggles in marriage and family. The professional organizer might have her house looking like a magazine, but her personal life is not perfectly in order. Think of social media as snapshots of someone’s day. At some point, your day has a photo-worthy moment too. Don’t think the rest of the day doesn’t exist for others or that there is something uniquely wrong with you or your life.
2. Don’t Find Your Validation Online
It’s easy to believe the lie that unless we get a certain number of likes or clicks, we’re worthless. Sounds ridiculous to say that out loud because, in our heads, we know our identity is not made up of a positive public opinion. But sometimes, our hearts and emotions don’t recognize this truth. When we post something funny, and it goes unnoticed, or fling that selfie out there with few likes or compliments, we feel it. But we are daughters of the Most High God! When we have the love and forgiveness of a Heavenly Father, who cares what some random stranger thinks? Preach this truth to yourself regularly. Resist the temptation to find your validation online and spend more of your time discovering where it really exists—in the Word of God. This leads me to number three:
3. Keep a Healthy Balance
All things in moderation, right? This applies to chocolate, exercise, and social media. If you’re spending more time scrolling aimlessly through other people’s feeds and continually feeling down on yourself, it’s time to put the phone away for a bit. Set a timer, or better yet, go into your settings and limit how much time you give yourself daily. When this setting is applied, it’ll prevent you from opening the app once your time has passed. You might be surprised to see how much time you’re actually spending on specific platforms. If you really need a break, remove the app from your phone and keep it just on your desktop computer. You’ll be able to post or check in, but not as automatically and easily. I’m always surprised at how often I default to opening social media apps when I have literally even a second of downtime. Guard your heart by limiting your platform time.
4. Lift Others Up
The best way to feel better about yourself is to encourage someone else. There’s no better cure for the blues than making someone else happy! It’s a “boomerang blessing” because blessing someone else does good for them and returns with a good feeling for your own weary heart. If social media is wearing you out, or you’re tired of talking about yourself or your product, lift up a friend. Promote their product or book or service. Share Scripture or devotional-style thoughts and lift up Christ! Use your powers of social media for good instead of evil ::wink:: and recognize how much better you feel afterward!
5. Be Real
There’s something so refreshing about spotting honesty and vulnerability on social media. Don’t get me wrong—I am not suggesting you air your dirty laundry for all the world to see. In most cases, your followers don’t need to know the details of your fight with your spouse or that you even had one. They don’t need to know how disrespectful your kids were the morning before school or how one is failing math or is having a problem right now with their friends. Protect your privacy and your family’s privacy, but beware of the temptation to create an inaccurate illusion of your life. You don’t want to be guilty of someone else feeling down about themselves, the way you feel when you see certain posts that make life look oh, so grand. Be genuine. Create a space online that provides your audience with a breath of fresh air, relief, and a sigh of “whew, me too.” Let them know they’re not alone in the struggles that come with being a Christian woman. Give them hope by pointing them to Christ.
Photo Credit: ©Jizhidexiaohailang/Unsplash
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com and offers author coaching and editorial services via Storyside LLC.