Not too long ago I was on one of those Facebook pages. You know the ones: they are helpful most of the time, but sometimes—every once in a great while—someone gets under your skin.
For me it might be more than every once in awhile.
Anyway, I usually enjoy this particular page, as I feel it’s a great place for people in my position in ministry to share resources and information, and I pretty much always walk away having learned something new or at least feeling like I’m not completely alone in my struggles.
But this one particular day, OH someone got under my skin.
And here’s why. Sometimes we think that because we are on the other side of a keyboard, it doesn’t matter what we say or how we say it. And that’s dumb. Especially as a leader in the Body of Christ, because by definition, people are following us in how we treat one another. This includes how we speak to each other in person, how we confront and encourage, and yes, how we treat one another on social media.
This particular person gave off that aura…you know the one. The one that shouts, “I’m going to tell it like it is in the rudest, most arrogant way possible, and you should all be really grateful because I’m the only one with enough guts to tell the truth.”
Folks like this don’t get under my skin because I don’t understand them, because I have been bullied or get run over by them. It’s because at my absolute worst, I am them. In immature seasons of my life, I have been guilty of this: treating people with harshness and attitude, mowing them down in my sense of righteous truth. And somehow looking back at the trail of bodies in my wake, I chuckled at how lucky they were. Lucky! Because man, at least I had the guts to tell it like it is.
You know what I’ve learned? It’s not really all that hard to tell it like it is. It’s actually pretty easy, and even easier to do it from behind a keyboard. It doesn’t take a particularly huge amount of character or Christ-likeness to be critical or demeaning of someone online.
What does take an awful lot of discipline is to know that someone is spouting a bunch of hooey and scroll along down the page, deciding that it’s not in the best interest of anyone to give my obviously wise and very much right opinion. That takes character, especially when we have a strong sense that we know better.
So the next time you, leader, are tempted to let somebody have it because, well, you can…remember Proverbs 11:12: “It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet” (NLT).
And scroll on.