We live in a digital world where almost everyone has an online presence. The online world simultaneously exists alongside “real” life.
Social media has provided a way for people of all kinds with all sorts of stories to rise to fame, with thousands of followers leaning in to listen to what they have to say and share. It’s not only celebrities who exist as elites with large followings, but those who know how to work the algorithm, curate entertaining or educational content, and engage with a present audience.
For my entire life I’ve felt the draw to share with others the things on my heart. Out of that desire came a blog. As a middle schooler, I decided to go beyond the pages of my journal and begin writing online. My readers consisted of my mom and a few family friends, but that didn’t matter much to me. Writing felt like the outlet to share outwardly what the Lord was doing inwardly.
The desires of my heart
My writing has continued, though a bit less frequently than when I was younger; but the desires of my heart have not changed. When I read something in Scripture and the Lord begins to sanctify me in truth, I have a natural inclination to share that through words. Many times my husband gets the brunt of it, but in our social media society, sometimes I pick up my phone and share it with friends and family who follow me online.
I enjoy teaching others about what I am being taught. While I don’t pretend to be the most skilled, I do feel the Lord has given me at least some gifting in speaking and it brings me great joy to do so.
Recently I’ve been in a bit of a hard place. As my husband and I sat at one of our favorite restaurants recently I shared with him the struggle that’s been waging within my soul: Through high school and college, I felt I had so much purpose. I was involved in organizations I was passionate about, I held leadership positions that gave me a reason to work hard and I felt that the ways I was serving and working were meaningful. Since graduating, I’ve struggled to feel that same sense of purpose.
Furthering the Kingdom
You don’t have to scroll long online before you come across those “influencers” with thousands of followers who hang on their every word. I’ve easily allowed a social media-focused world to become the gauge of my “success” in life. The industry I work in constantly is measuring client goals based on the achievement of increased followers, increased engagement and increased sales. Because of the desires of my heart and the society that gives anyone a voice, I’ve wrongly assumed that I must be called to share online and see growth in my platform.
I always wanted to be the girl with a big voice. In this new season of life, I’ve struggled to know how to use that voice as I did in high school and college. I’ve been easily discouraged trying to weed through what my passions, desires, talents and giftings are, and in turn, knowing how to use them in my career and personal life for the furthering of the Kingdom. The world seems to be screaming at me, “Well, what does your online presence say about you?”
I don’t have that large of a following besides those I personally know. Nobody subscribes to my blog that I’m aware of. I don’t consistently post and I don’t intentionally engage with my audience regularly. I am in no sense a graphic designer and cannot for the life of me figure out how to create the perfect Instagram color-scheme. So by the same measures I use to examine my own clients at work, I’m not doing too hot in the social media world.
Culture has taught us that in order to be deemed successful, you must have a significant following. I would guess I’m not the only one who’s bought into that lie.
The Lord has not called us to grow a large audience to be deemed faithful. He might bless some with a platform of some significant size with whom to share, but never has that been the intended goal. Our calling instead is to faithfully follow Him right where we are, no matter who is or who isn’t watching.
‘It’s about You, not me’
Will I be faithful in following the Lord even if the task before me is to serve and walk obediently behind a closed door where few might ever see? Will I surrender my gifts, my talents, my skills and my passions to the Lord and say, “Father, use them as You see fit. It’s about You; it’s not about me.” Online culture has caused us to think that the vessel of the truth is far more important than the truth itself.
While we will be used by Him and for Him, we are not the prize — He is.
Social media is not the judge of your faithfulness. I am in the middle of this learning season, trying to figure out how to walk in my passions and skills. One thing I’m taking away is that while social media is a gift we can and should use for His glory, it has very little to do with measuring our true faithfulness in following Christ.
Will I obey Him, serve Him and speak of Him even if nobody is listening? Will I be faithful even without a following? These are the questions I’m pondering within my soul.
Emily Jones is this week’s guest contributor for The Scroll. She is from Headland, Alabama, and moved to Montgomery after graduating from Troy University and marrying Brannon in December 2019. To read more from Emily visit her personal blog, Remembering + Rejoicing.