So much of our social media frenzy is fed by filtered pictures and half-truths, meant to arouse envy, provoke anger, or inspire greed. Looking back on my own social media history, I wince at how self-focused, prideful, and image-obsessed my posts were, prior to God’s searing conviction to use any influence He gave me for His glory.
What’s amazing to me is how blissfully unaware I was of what I was doing; after all, everyone else was doing it too! And really, it all seemed so innocent. My friends were simply posting pictures of us looking super fly, doing amazing things, and having a blast. I didn’t see anything wrong with showing the world what we were up to. After all, we couldn’t help it if we were #blessed! Plus, I hate it when people let the spirit of religiosity ruin a good time – or posting about it.
Moreover, I felt like I used my social media platform for good. I’d often post things that most Christians would applaud me for having the courage to say. Looking back, I still agree with the substance of those posts, but wonder at my intentions in posting them. They started a bunch of Facebook fights, resulting in broken relationships and lots of “unfriending.” As painful as it all was, it also made me feel strong, bold, and (self-)righteous in the face of such “persecution.” After all, I was standing up for God!
So why the unease? What’s not to love about “being bold,” or showing the world how much you’ve been blessed? Absolutely nothing – except that if we’re to boast, we’re only to “boast in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17). And my intentions were usually to boast about myself, rather than Him.
It doesn’t even matter that my posts weren’t all that braggadocios (not that I had anything in my social media arsenal that would ever be capable of “breaking the internet”). What matters is that Jesus cares about my motives. And above all else, He cares about the impact that my words, actions, and impressions have on my fellow sojourners.
My posts did nothing to elevate anyone other than me – often at the expense of others. Me thinking I was really clever and sharing a carefully crafted “thought” online – all to earn the praise (or ire) of man. Me thinking my makeup looked extra good one day – and hoping my future husband would see how pretty I felt in that moment. Me wanting the world to see how exotic and extravagant my travels were - and making others jealous that they weren’t me. Me wanting to project an image of myself as “superior” to others – in an attempt to overcome shortcomings of my own. My whole feed was an homage to myself, which explains why I felt such discomfort in my own social media skin.
A “look at me” lifestyle is the exact opposite of how Jesus calls us to live. Throughout Scripture, but particularly in the book of Philippians, Paul exhorts us to live a life that reflects a “God-and-others-first” mindset. Rather than set ourselves apart from others, Paul instructs us to “be joined together in perfect unity – with one heart, one passion, united in love” (Philippians 2:3 TPT). Rather than win an argument, Paul tells us to “be free from pride-filled opinions…[which] only harm our cherished unity” (Phil 2:3). Rather than draw attention to ourselves, Paul warns us not to allow “self-promotion to hide in our hearts,” but rather to “put others first and view others as more important than ourselves” (Phil 2:3). By following Paul’s advice, we imitate Christ, who “emptied himself of his outward glory” so that he could give all glory to God (Phil 2:7).
Today, I do my best to use my social media platform for God’s glory. With the Holy Spirit’s help, I’ve curbed the instinct to say, “Hey world, look at me!” in favor of “Hey world, look at Him!” I’m still not perfect at it, but my joy is now found in sharing what brings Him joy, and giving Him credit for any good thing that comes my way. As a result, I’m no longer impacted by the responses to my posts – good, bad, or non-existent. And I’m happy to report that I now feel more peace, living a God-glorifying life, that has resulted in more real friends, “likes,” and followers – both on social media and in the real world.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. – C.S. Lewis
Denise Gitsham is a San Diego-based attorney and small business owner. Her career has spanned nearly two decades in legal, political, and entrepreneurial spheres. Previously, she lived and worked in Washington D.C. at the White House, US Department of Justice, and in the US Senate. Denise is newly married to the love of her life, Josh, and they live with their golden retriever Jack. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram!