By Ryan Rice
The Christmas season is approaching, and companies are advertising new products, gadgets, and tools that are holiday “must-haves.” One thing I’ve noticed is the rise in popularity of “insta-products.” Americans seem to be obsessed with the idea of quick, fast, and comfortable.
This obsession also extends to platforms that offer instant celebrity such as Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook that have given the everyday man or woman a voice and the promise of pseudo-popularity. Get enough shares, likes, and tweets, and somehow we feel validated.
While many of us who serve in vocational ministry use our platforms for the propagation of the gospel, these same platforms can be a double-edged sword. We can start to believe our hype. Has the desire to be insta-famous or insta-relevant crept into your ministry?
A Question of Greatness
In Matthew 18, Jesus disciples wrestled with the question of greatness—focused on the idea that the kingdom of heaven has a type of hierarchy.
Scripture tells us, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘So who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'”
The question was a good one to ask. It seems to be a very pious one, also. Who doesn’t want to be great and do great things for God? Our world system bases greatness on how much power, success, money, and influence one has. Yet, the question for every Christian should be: What does God desire of me in His kingdom?
Our world system bases greatness on how much power, success, money, and influence one has. Yet, the question for every Christian should be: “What does God desire of me in His kingdom?”
What was Jesus’ response to His disciples’ question of being great in the kingdom? “Turn and become like children.” In the first century, children had little to no esteem. Is it any wonder Jesus uses a child as the object lesson here?
When we think of children, they have to trust the person who cares for them. To be childlike is to be humble and to trust in one greater than yourself.
A Better Aim
In Christ, we don’t need to become insta-famous or insta-relevant. Celebrity and relevance isn’t the aim.
If no one ever knows you or your ministry, but you’ve served Christ and matured in the faith, let Him be glorified. Better to be unknown, faithful to Christ, and developed in your character than to be known by everyone and living in secret sin.
How can we combat the desire to be insta-famous in our lives and ministry? Here are three suggestions.
1. Find your value and worth in the Lord, not in the likes.
Comparison is a dangerous trap, and social media makes it easy to compare your life to others and feel as if you’re not measuring up. It’s easy to covet another ministry we see on social media that looks much more fruitful than where God has us serving.
What if you post something on social media and no one shares, retweets, or likes what God is doing through your church or ministry? God hasn’t forgotten you or your ministry because of the lack of validation you receive on a social media platform.
When we stand before Jesus, we won’t hear, “Well done; you got the most likes and shares.” Instead, we desire to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
2. Trust God to grow your ministry, not your social clout.
Our church uses many social media platforms as tools to engage and connect with our community. But our trust rests in the Lord to do what only He can do to bring life and growth to our local church.
While imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, has the Lord called you to imitate the church or pastor you follow on social media? Sure, what they’re doing may seem impactful and powerful in growing their church. However, is this what God has called you to?
Your community, context, and calling are different than theirs. But the same Holy Spirit that’s at work in their life is at work in yours as well.
Preach the Word, love your community, and lead well, all for the glory of the Lord.
3. Engage your local community more than the world of social media.
We don’t find in Scripture the office of “social media pastor.” What we do see are faithful leaders, called to do the work of the ministry in their local communities and churches for the glory of God.
While using your social platform for gospel reach is great, don’t forget the people and community God has called you to.
It seems communication breakdowns are commonplace on social media. The best of friends somehow find their way of becoming the biggest enemies when social media is involved.
Instead of engaging our church members online, how about we primarily engage them in person?
Keeping Our Platforms in Check
There’s nothing wrong with using social media for leisure and for ministry purposes. But just like most good things, these platforms can easily become idols and temptations toward pride if not kept in check.
Be creative in thinking about ways to communicate the gospel in a socially driven, digitally focused world. But shy away from the desire to become insta-famous in the process.
RYAN RICE, SR. (@ryanricesr) is husband to Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, and Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He’s currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, which they planted in 2014.