What Does it Mean When You Stop Following Someone?

social-media

Social media is a great thing. It is helps us keep up with the lives of friends and families that we are separated from by distance. It helps us connect to people that we sort of know, but may not have been formally introduced. It helps us monitor breaking news from around the world and from inside our network. It helps us feel like we are an active part of a global family of more than 6 billion brothers and sisters.

Social media also makes us aware of what people are thinking and what they believe about life, politics, sports, and even intimate relationships. For every 100 people we know that practice good social media manners we know one person that whines, moans and complains about the smallest of things. We know someone that is intent on shouting their agenda to people as loudly as possible. We know someone that has very little empathy for anybody or anything and likely aren’t interested in developing any. We know someone that boils our blood every time they post an arrogant statement, a tasteless picture, an insensitive quote, or even a inflaming emoji.

So we unfriend them or we unfollow them. Problem solved. Or is it?

When we unfollow or unfriend someone in silence we may not be doing them any favors. They likely don’t know that we no longer read their posts and assume that we are closely keeping taps on their every thought and word. People who are so clueless about what they say or post are usually equally clueless about what people think about them. It is a matter of lacking self awareness and it oozes throughout every detail of their life. They just don’t get it and likely don’t care to.

So what does it mean to stop following someone?

It may mean…

That the friendship is not deep enough to confront or counsel someone about how they are perceived. (Maybe we need to work to change that.)

That confrontation is not an option and so a careful separation is necessary. (Maybe this says something about how we value perspectives more than people. Think about that one for a minute.)

That being connected to many people is more important than being real with a few. (Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that someone we have never been in the same room with has a different view on politics or faith than we do.)

That people are who they are and there is little hope in their ability to change or get it together. (Maybe believing that people can become self aware is our first hope and prayer before we do anything.)

That conversation is better kept at a safe distance than brought in for a close encounter. (Maybe we a phone call or cup of coffee would be good ways to discuss tension.)
As a leader who works with a very diverse population of people in my church/organization as well as with public stakeholders I am challenged daily about what to do. Who do I ignore? Who do I confront? Who do I write off? Who do I unfriend?

Every Christian should be careful to consider the matter as well. We are called to live together in brotherly/sisterly love, but love doesn’t mean that we ignore bad behavior nor does it mean that we quietly dismiss the person as an unsalvageable social media soul. We don’t just rebuke someone in the name of love with the first thing we think of and we can’t just unplug any remembrance of the person without thought to our role as a witness in their life. And for heaven’s sakes we aren’t the social media police having to argue, confront, debunk every bad thought or word we read online. Sometimes a deep, cleansing breath is what we need before doing anything. Unfollowing and unfriending after accepting friendship with someone can be viewed as a rejection and if they are a Christian or church connection that can be extremely difficult.

Here is my working strategy on managing social media contacts or connections:

I am careful about who I friend or link up to on social media so that I can be very careful about managing those relationships. My goal is not quantity, but quality with those in my network. I don’t have to like or love every post I see and my emoji isn’t required as an expression of my approval or lack there of. If the issue is one of personal perspective and they communicate it professionally or with some level of composure then it is okay to have a different perspective. If they insult me then forgiveness is first, but conversation comes close as the second response. If they destroy a whole culture, tribe, party, family, church or any other grouping in a public way then rebuke and removal must be considered. Being connected is not more important than being real.

Unfollowing and unfriending is sometimes the right thing to do, but it comes with consequences personally and socially. Choose those options deliberately and wisely. Manage the friendship well and tension will likely manage itself. Be careful with feelings – yours, theirs, others – and direct communication can be helpful and possibly transforming. Don’t be overly sensitive, but don’t fall asleep at the wheel and let your feed get blown up by a loose cannon friend or associate. Be genuine in your faith, your feelings, your feedback and people will likely have respect for where you are coming from.

Friendship is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
– Muhammad Ali

I Am. I Will. He is.

god is

I am disappointed in the decision Friday by the Supreme Court regarding marriage.  I am disappointed that many of my Southern friends/family have been more passionate about their right to fly a flag than about other people’s right to just live and breath. I am disappointed that in France and Tunisia another attack on human life was made in the name of Islam rather than in “submission to the will of God and obedience to His law (definition of the word Islam)”  which will only fuel the discussion of more war in the middle East. I am disappointed that some people don’t want to talk about the race problem in America and others think that is the only problem that we need to discuss. I am disappointed that we have millions that are hungry, hundreds of thousands that are orphans, tens of thousands of families without a home and the majority of us only are obsessed with what rights we personally do or don’t have. I am disappointed that it is raining today, that I have to go to work tomorrow, that the Astros lost last night, that I am not as fit as I used to be, that my kids are growing up too fast, that retirement is coming to soon, and that the part in my hair just doesn’t part right anymore.

But today is Sunday – the Sabbath day. It is a day to rest and be kept as holy. So I will not live in my fear and my disappointment and my desire to be a sideline critic with half truth, social media cracks on everything. I will not be fooled into thinking that love wins or loses because love is and love does. I will not attempt to win anything or take back nothing that I think belongs to me as an American. I will not judge others or be tempted to speak with contempt about our differences. I will rest. I will be renewed. I will worship the One true and living God. I will not let other people’s emotions and rhetoric bate me into debate, discussion or a divisive spirit. I will be the child that God created me to be, live the truth He speaks into my life, love the way He filled me to share, and walk in the light that only He can provide for this journey. This is the Lord’s day and a day like no other.

Church please hear this before you get in your cars to head to church prepared to grieve, gossip and regurgitate the weeks devastating events.

For He is…

Love – 1 John 4:16
Spirit – John 4:24
The Holy One -Psalms 16:10
The I Am – John 8:58
God Almighty – Exodus 6:3
A Miracle Working God – Galatians 3:5
The Creator of the World – John 1:3
Calling Things That Be Not As Though they Were – Romans 4:17
Infinite – 1 Kings 8:27
All Powerful – Jeremiah 32:17, 27
All Knowing – 1 John 3:20
Ever Present – Psalms 139:1, 13
Unchangeable – Numbers 23:19
A Covenant Making God – Hebrews 10:16
The Everlasting Father – Isaiah 9:6
A Father of Lights – James 1:17
A Father of Mercies & God of All Comfort – 2 Corinthians 1:3
The Author of Salvation – Hebrews 2:10
Full of Power – Romans 13:1
A God Who Raises the Dead – 2 Corinthians 1:9
A Quickening Spirit – 1 Corinthians 15:45
Mighty to Save – Isaiah 63:1
Our Maker – Isaiah 54:5
Our Heavenly Father – Matthew 6
The Justifier of the One Who Has Faith in Jesus – Romans 3:26
Meeting Our Needs through Jesus – Philippians 4:19
Giving Us the Peace that Surpasses Understanding – Philippians 4:7
Jesus of Nazareth – John 19:19
The Door of the Sheep – John 10
The Way, Truth & Life – John 14:6
The Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6
The King of Kings & Lord of Lords – Revelation 17:14
The Lamb of God – Revelation 5:6
The Bread of Life – John 6:48-58
The Bright & Morning Star – Revelation 22:16
The Light of the World – John 8:12
Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14
Wonderful Counselor – Isaiah 9:6
The Great Shepherd of the Sheep of Sheep – Hebrews 13:20
The Head of the Church – Ephesians 1:22
Jesus – Matthew 1:21
The Same Yesterday, Today & Forever – Hebrews 13:8
Our All Sufficiency 2 Corinthians 3:5
The Word – John 1:1
Dwelling in Us – 2 Corinthians 6:16
Easily Touched – Hebrews 4:15
Faithful & True – Revelation 19:11
A Sure Foundation – Isaiah 28:16
Upholding All things by the Word of His Power – Hebrews 1:3
Watching Over His Word to Perform It – Jeremiah 1:12
A Rewarder of Those Who Diligently Seek Him – Hebrews 11:6
No Respecter of Persons – Act 10:34
The True Light – John 1:9
The Author & Finisher of Our Faith – Hebrews 12:2
Mediator of the New Covenant – Hebrews  9:15
The Truth – John 14:6
Working in Us – Hebrews 13:21
Greater in Us Than He That Is in the World – 1 John 4:4
Unto Us Wisdom, Sanctification & Redemption – 2 Corinthians 1:30
For Us – Romans 8:31
Never Leaving Us or Forsaking Us – Hebrews 13:5
Always Leading Us in Triumph in Christ – 2 Corinthians 2:14
Faithful Over His House – Hebrews 3:1-6
Ruler of the Kings of the Earth – Revelation 1:5
Our Lord & Our God – John 20:28
Our Life – John 11:25-26
Our Savior – Luke 2:11
Our Redeemer – Isaiah 48:17
Our Teacher – Matthew 28:18
Our Healer – Isaiah 53:5
Our Deliverer – Romans 11:20
Our Resurrection – John 11:25
Our Justification – Romans 3:26
Our Strength – Philippians 4:13
Our Righteousness – 1 Corinthians 1:30
Our Peace – Ephesians 2:14
Our Advocate – 1 John 2:1
Our Faithful High Priest – Hebrews 9:11; 10:21
Our Bridegroom – Matthew 9:15
Our Hope of Glory – Colossians 1:27
Pleased to Give Us the Kingdom – Luke 12:32
Equipping Us – Ephesians 4:11-16
Giving Us Revelation Knowledge – 1 Corinthians 2:10-13
Giving Us the Keys to the Kingdom – Matthew 16:19
Giving Us His Name – Mark 16:17-18
Giving Us the HOLY SPIRIT – Luke 11:13; Act 2:38-39
Anointing Us for Service – 1 John 2:20
Filling Us With Wisdom & Spiritual Understanding – Ephesians 1:17
Giving Us His Armor – Ephesians 6:10-18
Providing Us Angels – Hebrews 1:14
Faithful to Complete the Work He Began in Us – Philippians 1:6
Rich in Mercy – Psalms 136
Giving Us All Things to Enjoy – 1 Timothy 6:17
Saying Well Done My Good & Faithful Servants – Matthew 25:21
Receiving All the Glory – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Worthy of Praise – Psalms 18:3

The Alpha & Omega, The Beginning & End -Revelation 1:8

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, o Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  – Psalm 19