This word isn't all that popular today, not even in many Christian circles. Obedience often (always?) requires sacrifice. And sacrifice is uncomfortable.
Last weekend, Arabah Joy's weekly newsletter landed in my inbox as it normally does each Sunday afternoon. Now, I've long enjoyed her challenges to seek a deeper walk with Christ, and I eagerly look forward to reading what she has to share. But this weekend's email hit me like a ton of bricks.
"What do you need to stop doing in order to start growing in your faith?" she challenged us.
And I knew immediately what my "stop doing" list needed to entail:
I've been praying about whether or not the Lord wanted me to give up social media for personal use, and after reading her newsletter, I was certain that He did.
Honestly, this has been a difficult decision for me for a number of reasons.
First of all, I love the ability to stay connected with people through social media. I've been able to follow friends' life journeys, stay up-to-date on people's growing families, and pray with my family and friends as they experience blessings and hardships. Social media is a quick and easy way to do this.
Secondly, I don't think all social media is bad. In fact, when properly stewarded, it can be a very good thing and a huge encouragement, especially when someone is going through a major trial. I've personally benefited from using social media, particularly Facebook. Whenever I ask for prayer, people around the world immediately respond. This blesses me more than I can ever say.
But there are downsides to social media, too, and more and more, the drawbacks are outweighing the benefits.
For one thing, I've been wrestling with the social media monster for over two years. I've asked Jon in the past if I should shut down my Facebook page, but until now, he's always encouraged me to leave it up because of the benefits. When I asked him about it again this weekend, however, he agreed that closing down my personal accounts is probably best.
There are several reasons for this decision. I'm finding that social media, and Facebook in particular, has become a time suck for me. I'll hop on with the intent of visiting a few friends' pages, but before I know it, I've wasted 30 minutes or more browsing through more profiles than I can count. I've not been a good steward of my limited free time. Although that fault lies with me and not social media itself, I've decided that I need to spend my time more wisely.
As I've wrestled with giving up social media for personal use, it made me think of Daniel. He knew the Lord was asking him to avoid the rich meats and wine that the king wanted the young captives to have. Instead, Daniel asked for vegetables and water. He had to sacrifice the delicious, rich foods that he knew would displease the Lord, and the Lord rewarded him with a better physique than those who had eaten the king's food (see Daniel 1).
Now, I'm not saying that by giving up social media that the Lord is going to reward me with physical blessings. But in just the week or so that I've been away from it, He has done several things for me: I have more time to devote to my family; I have peace of mind and don't get my feathers ruffled after reading someone else's polarizing status update; and I have the assurance that I am walking in obedience to what the Lord wants me to do. Those blessings far outweigh any sense of sacrifice I might have felt at giving up social media.
So, today I want to pass on Arabah Joy's challenge to you:
What do you need to stop doing in order to start growing more in your faith?
For you, that answer may not be social media. If you don't immediately know the answer, I would suggest that you look at the good things in your life that simply aren't the best things. Social media was a good thing in my life, but when it began encroaching on the things that were best - time spent in deeper Bible study, time spent with family - it was no longer one of the best things, and it needed to go.
I would also caution against a hasty removal of anything in your life. Yes, we want to be diligent to obey God, but we also need to be sure that He is the One asking us to give up whatever it is. If we go around axing a bunch of things in our lives without proper prayer and without the Holy Spirit guiding us, it can quickly turn into something unhealthy.
The decision to step away from social media for personal use didn't come on a whim, and it did take me a long time to finally pull the plug. But I am so thankful that I did. Obedience comes with sacrifice, but the joy the Lord gives when we follow His leading far outweighs whatever it was we had to give up.
(Note: Although I've stopped using my personal profile on Facebook, I'm still active on the Hallway Initiative's business page. This arrangement lets me interact with all of you but has given me the freedom I needed from spending too much time on social media.)
Your turn: Have you had to give up something good in order to focus on what is best? If you feel like sharing, I'd love to know what helped you to make that decision!