Why I allow the actions of human beings to surprise me, I will never know. I was doing some studying this week about the concept of “servant leadership”. Specifically, the notion of listening to other people, with a servant’s heart. The goal is to try to understand not only what someone is saying or doing, but why they are saying certain things and doing certain things. For our actions will always reveal what we believe and who we are. Once one begins to understand what someone believes or gets a glimpse into who someone is, the easier it will be to connect. Once this connection is made, learning and growing can occur. Well, as I am sure you already know, connecting with others is very difficult.
It is very hard to allow yourself to be open to opinions and actions that are different from your own. Yet, as it relates to being a follower of Jesus, it is vitally important for one to become all things to all people in order to lead some into a God-saved life. (To paraphrase the apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.) The goal is to come alongside someone, so that there will be an opportunity for that someone to be open to your thoughts and what you believe. After all, nobody will care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Caring, not about what they are saying or doing, but caring about who they are.
Needless to say that this servant leadership stuff is difficult in any situation, but social media has made this reality even more complicated. Let’s look at an example from the recent political unrest in our country. I was reading a post on Facebook from someone who was announcing that they were leaving the platform, because of their perceived censorship of values that they hold dear. Especially as it relates to the results of our most recent Presidential election. The only reason someone would go to the trouble to make such a public announcement was for the purpose of response. If not, they would have just deleted their account and went on with their life. Since I noticed that there were 11 comments and I knew that these comments were the desired result of this person’s post, I clicked to read what others said. Most of them were very supportive. Some even gave advice about other social media platforms, that were more friendly to this person’s perspective.
This is when it got interesting, at least from my point of view, considering what I had been recently studying. In response to this comment a person replied, and I quote: “I just got off Facebook jail for expressing my opinion of dementia Joe and the she male tramp and it’s really sad that they are so controlled by foreign people.” I was stopped in my tracks. Here was someone who was complaining about Facebook censoring their posts. Based on the language that they used and what that language said about them as a person, I sarcastically asked myself: I wonder why Facebook censored them?
I strongly disagree with this person’s hate speech, but I was quickly reminded of what I had been studying. I then turned it around on myself and I asked: “How would I be able to connect with such a person as this?” For God loves this person just as much as God loves me. Jesus died on the cross for this person, just as Jesus died on the cross for me. This is our challenge, as followers of Jesus, in such a time as this. For not only do we need to wrestle with how to connect with someone filled with so much hate and bitterness, but how we are to connect if social media is our only option?