Grace, Salt and Social Media

don’t say something permanently hurtful just because you are temporarily upset

Many (many, many) times after I have posted a comment (sometimes a-hasty-flippant-without-engaging-my-heart-or-brain-comment) on social media, or pushed send on the e-mail “to all” I have a sudden oh-goodness-that-probably-could-be-taken-the-wrong-way-epiphany-moment.

Can I avoid offending everyone or upsetting someone who does not agree with me? No, but I have a responsibility to offer up my opinion with grace “sprinkled with a little salt.”

Here are a few guidelines I’m trying (I’ll still need grace) to hold myself to in this say-whatever-is-on-your-mind-no-holds-bar-type-of-communication. To be clear, I’m not talking about sharing the gospel, although that too needs to be done with plenty of grace, but that’s a whole different story. This is about general conversation.

never give up the opportunity to keep your mouth shut 

Elizabeth Elliot (wife of Jim Elliot), author and speaker taught me this as a young Christian. We don’t have to have an opinion on everything. It’s OK to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt. I forget who said that??

make sure it’s the right time to say something

Timing is everything. Often it’s better to wait for a more opportune time to say something. When I read something that rubs me the wrong way my natural hasty response is to say something that “packs a punch” right back and if I respond right away it will come across harsh. Take a breather, think about your response, pray about your response, actually read the whole post or e-mail. Maybe you misunderstood or missed something important the first time you read it. Don’t just pick up a “mob-response-mentality.”

consider a private message 

This may be a better option if you feel like you must correct a wrong or address something to the writer. If I feel that everyone needs to hear what I have to say, or someone might say it first, then it’s more about me than the writer. After thinking it through carefully, ask the writer if you misunderstood what they were meaning or would they be open to hearing your opinion on the subject. You’d be surprised how receptive they are if you ask permission to engage privately in an honest debate rather than lambasting them in a public forum.

respond “with grace

This means what you say is wholesome (no bad language), fitting, kind, positive, sensitive, purposeful, complementary, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful. Will it add value to the reader(s) or tear someone down? If I can’t put a check by all these then I need to think about rewording it or just not commenting. Any time I comment when I still have even the smallest caution or doubt, I regret it. That “still, small voice” is the Holy Spirit! Don’t ignore it.

our comments/conversation/speech should be “seasoned with salt

Just as salt on our food makes it more enjoyable and palatable, so should our words to others. We need to make sure they are pleasant, agreeable, acceptable and pleasing before we start throwing them around.

be careful what we put into our minds

The words we speak or write reveals the attitude of our heart and soul. Whatever we read, see or hear affects our thoughts. When we speak or write those thoughts become opinions. Negative thoughts will become negative words. Unwholesome or unkind thoughts will become unkind or unwholesome words. Think of it this way. If we had a water source and allowed all sorts of germs or contaminates to get into that water, what would it taste like if we took a drink from there? Would it be pleasant and helpful or would it cause harm?

make it your goal to add value to the reader

This ALONE will put a check on anything you say.

John C. Maxwell writes, “the ability to add value to others must be built upon the solid ground of believing in ourselves. The only way we can be consistent and authentic in valuing others is to see value in ourselves. The more you like and respect yourself, the more you like and respect other people. The more you accept yourself just as you are, the more you accept others just as they are. When you add value to others, there is an instant return of positive emotions that causes you to feel better about who you are. Positive thinking doesn’t build self-image. Positive acts do. If you perform positive acts, not only will your self-image begin to rise, you will find yourself living a more significant life that matters.”

Know where the delete button is and how to use it!

I use my delete or edit buttons on Facebook and Instagram a LOT.  If you get that sinking feeling that you have said something unkind or unfeeling or someone may take it the wrong way, then take action and edit your comments or posts or delete them entirely. If you have already offended someone then take steps to ask forgiveness, say you are sorry or clear up any misunderstanding by contacting that person in private.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I try to keep “advice lists” short. Many of us could add one or two excellent points of our own.

What is your top “rule” before you post something?

Just Do Something

Just Do Something, A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will…

OR How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc., by Kevin DeYoung.

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Why I read this book

DeYoung writes small concise and to the point books. He doesn’t beat around the bush. I read his book Crazy Busy, another small book, in the past and really loved it.  The only reason I picked this one up (while on a marriage cruise where he was speaking) was because I so enjoyed his first one. I was not disappointed and you won’t be either.

Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz  is Donald Miller’s personal memoirs about his journey into and through anger and confusion about Christianity, self-doubt, the struggle to “love people just because they exist” no matter their situation in life yet not abandon the truth of scripture. Miller is so quirky, honest and transparent about his search for true meaning that it may make some parents want to ban the book but if you hang in there he leads you straight to Jesus. (It’s not in any way graphic or inappropriate, just says what every one is thinking but not saying). I love how Miller points out that God never withholds love to teach us a lesson and that to have influence or get people to listen to you about spiritual matters they have to sense that you like them and that you care. And he likes Ravi Zacharias and Brennan Manning! Highly recommended.  Click here to order!

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Why I read this book

In our women’s Bible study group, between us, we have many kids in the highschool and college age group. A lot of our kids were reading the book and we thought we could gain some insight into their mindset. We were very surprised how much we really liked Miller’s take on all things religious.

The Sacred Search

If you are looking for a great book on the subject of relationships, dating and marriage this is an awesome read! It will change your perspective on the subject. Author Gary Thomas shows us what it means to keep God at the center of our relationships and to focus on a greater mission in your future marriage. A great gift for that special single person in your life! I highly recommend this book.  Click to order The Sacred Search.

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Why I read this book…since I am WAY past “searching” for anyone…

Oh boy, where do I start.  I SO wish I had this book and read it at about age fourteen! I didn’t want my only daughter to make the same mistakes in this area (and there were a LOT) so I read this before giving it to my daughter. Even after 35 years of marriage it was helpful (in a reverse kind of way) to bring healing to my soul.  Plus it led me to a whole list of other books by Gary Thomas on marriage like Sacred Marriage, A Lifelong Love, and Cherish that will bless your marriage no matter what state it is in. So if you have a teen boy or girl, young highschool or college age son or daughter, don’t hesitate another minute.  Order Sacred Search for them now and read it to them or bribe them to read it!