Dawn Tolbert

Writer
Faith Reflections

Living Social Media Lives

I took the Facebook app off my phone recently.

I did it because I found myself checking it too often, allowing it to interfere with my in-person time with family and friends. I haven’t given up — and don’t plan to give up Facebook entirely because it’s the only connection I have with some awesome people in my life. But I’d gotten to the point where I found myself somewhat angst-ridden when I had spent too much time scrolling through my news feed.

I don’t think I’m alone.

I logged on last night from my computer and saw, not one, but two friends who’d made posts about how it was time to clean out their friends list because of some online bullying. And I thought how awful it is that we turn tools that could be used for good into something else. I have known people who will unfriend over politics or language or any of dozens of other reasons that we can come up with to define ourselves as different from others. I’m guessing I’ve been unfriended or unfollowed because of my annoying habit of sharing my blog posts via Facebook.

That got me started thinking about this blog. I pray and I write and then I send my posts out into the social media world. And then comes the problem: I’ll sit back and watch to see what happens, to respond to comments, to look for likes of my Tweets or to see how many thumbs up — or dare I hope hearts — I get on my Facebook posts, and sometimes, somehow, along the way, this offering that I’d intended to magnify God’s goodness and grace and love has turned into something that’s all — or at least partly — about me.

Right now, if I clicked over to my email inbox or to my Twitter feed, I could easily find access to dozens of posts or resources offering to help me build my number of Twitter followers and expand my mailing list. Those aren’t bad things necessarily, but I need to ask why I’m doing it. Is it just so that my name will be known or that my name will be great? That’s really not why I do this writing thing.

The sidebar on my blog’s homepage quotes Psalm 19:14: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You O, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” I want my words to be God-honoring and God-pleasing. But with options on posts like “publicize” and the automatic stats window to show my interactions, it can easily slide into being about Dawn.

A post on Twitter caught my eye last night. Christian teacher and author Beth Moore tweeted a link to a blog post to clarify something she’d tweeted about earlier. I, like many in the comments, hadn’t seen her original tweet, but the post fascinated me. She was talking about this post-Christian era trend of ours to focus on “personal branding,” and pointed out, “We’re attempting to sell ourselves in the name of Jesus. We’re being tutored in the post-Christian modern art of self-glory for God’s glory.” She does a great job covering the topic, and if you’re interested in learning more, I recommend you read the full post.

The problem with personal branding comes, like is often the case in life, when we shift the focus from God to ourselves. And of course Satan is there hoping to make sure we do just that. Again, listen to Beth Moore’s warning:

I’ve lived long enough, experienced enough, witnessed enough and heard enough to tell you point-blank the devil doesn’t take a potential threat to the darkness lying down. He can’t sleep with a light on so he does everything he can to cover it. If he can’t get us to quit, he’ll settle for making us hypocrites and narcissists and, in the wording of Galatians 3:3, what we started in the Spirit we end up finishing in the flesh.

He’s shockingly patient and scheming because the same approach doesn’t work across the board. He studies us, knowing that all humans by undisciplined-nature are addicts. All he has to do is figure out what kind of crack to put in your pipe and the seduction is on.

The answer — as always — lies in trusting and relying on God, in truly seeking to honor Him with all our hearts and not reserving even just a tiny portion for ourselves. I’ve been reading through 1 Kings and 2 Kings and have read again and again how this king or that one followed God but not with his whole heart. He’d do some good, maybe even mostly good, but he would remain disobedient in some area. God, unlike our Facebook friends and Twitter followers, sees our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Our motives matter.

My prayer is that I will be wise to Satan’s temptations to drive me toward self-promotion. I would appreciate your prayers as well. I don’t know a lot of Latin, but the words “Soli Deo gloria” popped in my head (thanks to choral singing). That’s my prayer: “Glory to God alone.”

2 Comment

  1. Seems I’ve come across a lot of Christians who have an issue with self-branding. I see the struggle, It’s a balance where the perception of the viewer can often not match the author/poster’s intentions.

    I also took the Facebook app off my phone some time ago for the same reason. The Pages app helps monitor the different Facebook pages I look after such as The Index’s.

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