Rules of Engagement
In ancient Greek city-states there was a public forum called the agora where people would gather and, among other things, discuss politics, religion, philosophy and all manner of other topics. Things got heated sometimes, but to my knowledge, there were no rotten tomatoes thrown. People understood that you can disagree without it getting ugly. The Greek philosopher Aristotle said that,
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle
More than any other forum, the agora of the day is social media. If we want our values to be represented, than we need to join the discussion. But we need to not foolishly jump in, but join it wisely.
Evaluate if this is a Discuss, Debate, Divide or Die for issue
A good thing to think about is whether the issue we’re wanting to engage is something to Discuss, Debate, Divide over or Die for. Very few things are worth dying for but people still seem to want to kill anyone who disagrees with their evaluation of the recent happenings on The Bachelor. Sadly many friends and even family members will divide over things that shouldn’t be in that category.
Choose how you’ll engage
Even if something that someone believes makes them an enemy to us or our values, it’s never wise to engage the enemy on their ground. We should choose the battlefield for best strategic effectiveness. In other words, putting someone on blast on social media never wins ground. Instead, a better tactical choice may be making a phone call or taking them to coffee or better yet, praying for them for a season before you decide to even talk to them.
Select what to say and when
An amazing thing about communication is said about the prophet Samuel in the Bible. It says that, “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. (1 Samuel 3:19 NIV). That means that everything that he said was perfectly effective. You and I want the same to be said of our communication. What made it that way? The Bible goes on to say that, “The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.” (1 Samuel 3:21-4:1 NIV).
In other words, the power of Samuel’s words were that they were God’s words. He didn’t give what he hadn’t received, didn’t speak what he hadn’t heard, didn’t lead where he hadn’t gone. Not everything that he said was well-received but it was received exactly as God wanted it to be. Our words would be far more powerful if we did as Samuel did.
[tweetshare tweet=”We shouldn’t give what we haven’t truly received, speak what we haven’t truly heard, lead where we haven’t truly gone.” username=”JRothwilson”]
So what should I do?
The final thing to know before posting your position on social media is that there are wise ways to say what should be said. Be wise! We need an agora today where people can talk and reason and social media has taken that place in our culture more than any other forum. Sadly, how people talk is often monosyllabic and how people reason is often troglodytic.
You can do better! Ephesians 5:15, “Pay close attention to how you walk, not foolishly, but with wisdom.”
1) Pray about what you’re about to say: are they God’s words? If not, don’t waste your breath.
2) If they are, pray again: is the person you’re about to say it to the person God wants you to say it to? If not, think about who really needs to hear your message. Get the right words to the right ears.
3) If it is, pray again: is the way you’re about to say it the way that God would want you to say it? If not, think about how it would be more effective. Find the best possible setting and timing.
4) If it is, count the cost: are you willing to lose friends or followers? You should be willing to because being good is more important than being well-liked.
5) Hit send. Say only what God says, to the people that he says to say it to, in the way that he wants you to say it.