It all seems so harmless…the quick click to follow…the suggested person to be a fan of that pops up on your screen you “might like because you follow this person who is similar to her, too”…so we just go with it.
She’s intriguing and doesn’t lie down and take junk from anyone.
She’s the person we wish to be, if only we could say it like she does, have the confidence she does – the cyber best friend we long to sit with over coffee who talks about things we care about, understands us oh my word for once…and now we know her dog’s name and love him, too, and we will seriously offer to dog sit if that would mean we could get close to her.
The internet is fantastic and horrible and nothing, really, but a place for the things that are already wrong inside to become more wrong and tangle us in webs harder to get out of.
We follow people with charisma because it’s natural to follow people with charisma.
We follow people with wisdom because it’s natural to follow people with wisdom.
We follow people who are funny and clever because it’s natural to follow people who are funny and clever.
This is not to be a place of shame.
But we have to take following much more seriously.
It all seems so beautiful…the memes that tug at us and tell us the things our fragile hearts long in the core to grab onto…no matter if they are consistent with the Word or simply beautifully woven words.
I like the way this makes me feel.
This helps me believe in myself.
These are things we probably won’t say, except for inside our heads, but that is enough to share with others as if it’s gospel, never mind if it actually is.
We share things because we feel inspired and we want to inspire other people, and it’s wonderful to want to inspire other people.
We share things because we despise the negative of the internet and we long to spread hopeful messages of love, instead, and it’s wonderful to want to spread hopeful messages of love.
This, too, is not to be a place of shame.
But we have to take sharing much more seriously.
I talk about this in Put Your Warrior Boots On.
Declaration #7, I Will Follow God, Forever, defines what following is really all about, what to be careful of when we follow someone, and why I believe the word tethered is the key to following God.
In other places in the book, I give us nuggets to help us maneuver this world of following and social media sharing.
But here’s what I want you to know, today, in this space, as this idea of following leaders, particularly spiritual female ones, has become a hot-button issue in Christendom as of late.
- Don’t underestimate the backhanded stealth operation Satan will take you get you off course in this area of your life. If something looked evil, you wouldn’t fall for it. The things that look and sound good ought to be the things you most pray over for discernment. This includes people. (Sidebar: with the help of God, this doesn’t have to turn into unhealthy skepticism/negativity.)
- If you have to keep saying things like, “I know this person is a little off about this, but…” and the justifications keep happening, you may want to reconsider your follow. Please don’t read this to mean you should look for perfection, or you will have no spiritual influences in your life. But you know when you are going down a justification road most of the time. Stop denying that and consider why you keep them as an influence in your life.
- Know what a person who exercises the fruit of the Spirit looks like and what are the requirements for teaching in the Word of God, and let those be your model for following spiritual leadership. (see Galatians 5:22-23; I and II Tim. and Titus, predominantly.) Follow people as they follow God. If someone continually preaches a message that calls attention to themselves, red flag.
- Just because someone says they are a believer in Jesus Christ and puts up some verses online does not mean they need to become your spiritual teacher. There’s a difference between a spiritual leader and a fun person you follow because they make you laugh, etc., you appreciate their insight on motherhood, etc. Put people in appropriate seats in your life. One size does not fit all with influence, so don’t let a fun online following bleed into who you look to for spiritual guidance. You wouldn’t go to a doctor to tell you how to decorate your house, even if they knew a lot about a lot. Find out about the background and due diligence of people, where they have come from and what has formed their life and opinions…how they have weathered through things, etc. before you listen to their philosophies on life and their counsel for you. This is just good life wisdom, 101.
- This is very important. Please remember that every person, “expert” or not, is human and comes into a discussion and yes, even Bible teaching, the pulpit on a Sunday morning, etc., from a place of bias because of life experience, formative years teaching, religious background, life damage, education, etc. Anyone who says this is not so is simply not being honest with themselves. No one but God has the ability to not bring human into a situation. So then it becomes who has done the work with Jesus and yes, with solid counseling if need be (I would argue, it is always a good idea) to become healthy and well from the hard places in the past to speak now with wisdom into those places. This can be the most powerful experience and such a worthy follow from us. On the other side, though many may have experience in an area (example – been in the church for a long time or on church staff and had a traumatic experience there), if they have not done the work to properly heal, the offering of counsel can come from a broken or bitter place and be detrimental to those they speak into.
Leadership is a beautiful thing and following people as they follow God is a priceless pipeline of the Gospel He intended we implement so many will come to know Him.
May we make we make this a serious matter of prayer.
Oh God, protect us…give us wisdom…help us do this better moving forward.
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