4 Questions to Ask Before Posting on Social Media as a Church Leader
I’ll never forget the day I learned that my social media accounts weren’t like other people’s social media accounts. I was a young youth pastor, and my boss took me for a walk and gently but firmly explained to me how a blog post I had written was creating mistrust with the students and parents in my student ministry.
That’s when I realized that because I was a pastor, my social media accounts aren’t like other social media accounts since I occupy a position of spiritual leadership in people’s lives.
Here's the question: How do you avoid saying dumb stuff, particularly on social media? None of us enjoy having to apologize to people, retract statements, or pull-down tweets.
Perhaps you lead staff or volunteers and have had to explain to them why a particular Instagram post might not be appropriate. Again, how do you avoid saying dumb stuff?
I find myself asking 4 questions that might be helpful as you process anything you might say, preach, write, or post.
What’s My Motive?
Driving away from a social gathering, have you ever said to yourself:
“Why in the world did I say that!?!”
I definitely have. When I look back on some of the dumb things I’ve said or posted, I can usually trace things back to a motive. I wanted attention. I wanted people to think I was smart. I wanted to appear relevant.
If you want to avoid saying dumb things, slow down your decision-making process. Before you write, speak or post, ask yourself:
“What’s my motive here?”
If your motive is anything other than building other people up, it’s probably not a good idea to say or post it. People say regrettable things when their motive is revenge, proving they are right, or seeking attention.
I try to ask myself the question:
“Is what I’m going to say or post about promoting me?”
If it is, your motive might be off.
What Do You Think?
This question is my secret weapon. I run just about every social media post that isn’t a photo of my kids past one or two other people. For example, a while back I felt I needed to post a prayer I had written in response to a racially charged event that happened in my city.
I showed what I had written to three or four people I trust and asked them for input. Basically, I never preach or post without seeking input and feedback. This practice has saved me so much trouble.
If you want to avoid saying or posting dumb stuff, get in the habit of seeking input. Ask a few trusted people:
“What do you think about this?”
Respond to their input with humility and teachability. And just to warn you, there have been many times when people talked me out of posting what I wanted to post. Why? Usually, because of the emotional state I was in when I wrote what I wanted to say, which leads me to the next question.
Am I Reacting?
I have found that just waiting for a few hours (or days), keeps me out of a lot of trouble. Why? Because when I speak or write reactively, I usually say things without clarity or grace.
The question to ask here is this:
“Am I reacting?”
When I’m angry or hurt, I often say things that I regret.
Something to keep in mind, especially with social media, is that you are a spiritual leader and you are modeling for your people how to think and behave.
Sure, it’s not entirely fair that you can’t just be totally authentic and raw on your personal social media accounts but that’s part of the weight and responsibility of spiritual leadership.
There is way too much reactive communication going on in our culture and in our churches right now. There is an opportunity here to model a better way.
Who are My Sources?
One of my least favorite things is discovering that something I’ve said or posted isn’t actually true. This has happened a few times when I’ve fallen for fake news or not fully vetted a source. Ugh.
When things like this have happened to me in the past, it’s usually because I’m moving too quickly. A great question that keeps me out of trouble is this:
“Who are my sources?”
Do I really know them and trust my sources, or am I just looking for information that supports what I already think? It’s no secret that the issues of fake news and biased news are huge problems on social media.
So, if you want to avoid saying something you’ll later have to retract, check (and double check) your sources.
These four questions have served me well as a pastor and leader. I hope that some of my past mistakes help you and the people you lead avoid saying dumb stuff. Have a great day!
Topics: AdviceView More Posts from Breeze