In a word — pressure. That’s how many Christian leaders feel about having to post about current events on social media. But it shouldn’t be this way.
As you know, 2020 is shaping to be one of the most infamous years in recent memory. Whether it’s the coronavirus pandemic, the tragic death of George Floyd, or the forthcoming presidential election (to only name a few), social media is not lacking in opinions on current event issues.
I’m thankful for the many voices that post edifying content to help us navigate these difficult times, but that need not be the objective of every person who has a social media account. This is especially true of Christian leaders.
Christian leaders don’t have to post on social media about every current event.
Why bring this up? Recently, I saw a couple of men who I admire call out Christian leaders for not using their platform to post on social media about some of the current events in our world. I even saw one person post to another pastor directly asking him why he wasn’t using his platform to speak out. I’m going to chalk this up as a misguided use of righteous anger, overlook it, and move on.
It is true that some Christian leaders who are considered authority figures on a particular issue may or perhaps should post something about that issue when it arises in culture. But most of us aren’t authority figures.
What I want to do here is spend some time thinking aloud about why some Christian leaders don’t post on social media during the latest outbreak of a widely recognized cultural event, and why you shouldn’t be mad at them for their silence.
Why Some Christian Leaders Don’t Post About Current Events on Social Media
I propose a suggestive, not exhaustive, list of reasons why your favorite or non-favorite Christian leader does not post about current events on social media.
1. Sometimes the issue is too personal.
Three of our church members tested positive for the Coronavirus. One of them died from it. These have been hard days for our church.
A couple of weeks after finding out a church member died from the virus, my brother called me on a beautiful Sunday morning.
“Are you sitting down?” he said.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Why?”
He continued: “Uncle Saliba died.”
My uncle died from COVID.
As the blogger of this site, I allow guest submissions. I want to share this medium and give others the chance to share their writing with my audience, although admittedly I say “no” to most submissions. During the worst times of the Coronavirus (March and April), I got more guest submissions in that short time than all other years combined. None are published on my site. Not because they weren’t well-written; many of them were. Among other reasons, it was too personal for me and my church. I did not want to come across as insensitive to my family or my congregants.
So you can say I didn’t post about the virus because it was too close to home. I didn’t feel the need to face potential accusations on social media from someone who has no idea how this has affected me in real life. But it’s not just me — it can be any Christian leader that you know. Sometimes they don’t post about a current event on social media because they are grieving in real life and they don’t have the emotional energy to deal with Twitter trolls.
2. Sometimes leaders are still gathering information.
I realize that speed is the name of the game when it comes to websites that post about the news. The relevance of a current event usually has a small time-window, and websites feel the pressure to quickly post quality content about that current event. Our culture appreciates “Hot Takes,” but the Bible values takes that are truthful, thoughtful, helpful, and edifying, all of which cannot happen when you’re not slow to speak (James 1:19). Often, the best online posts are the result of a massive amount of information first gathered and synthesized, and that takes time.
Many leaders are trying to read and pray and think and gather relevant information in private before posting in public.
We shouldn’t readily accept someone who’s been a wolf for decades just because they said the right thing once (e.g., Benny Hinn). On the flip side, we shouldn’t automatically dismiss a long-standing faithful brother because he slipped up once (e.g., Eugene Peterson). Context is key, and there is often more to the story of the latest cultural outbreak than the title of the article. It takes patience and collecting information from several credible sources with varying perspectives before you can make a viable judgment on an issue. Hence, why such-and-such didn’t post about X the minute after it happened.
3. Sometimes leaders are more concerned about doing something about the issue in real-life.
Only a hypocritical fool seeks to garner a large social media platform about a particular issue only to be doing nothing about that issue in real life.
Social media can be incredibly deceptive. It’s actually not that hard to manipulate the algorithms to get attention — this is especially true if you’re witty or you’re a decent writer or you’re in the know in your particular niche. But just because someone has a verified account and thousands of followers doesn’t mean they are actually leading anyone or anything when their fingers aren’t tweeting.
So, sometimes Christian leaders aren’t posting about a current event on social not because they’re cowardly, aphetic, or indifferent to what’s going on, but because they’re channeling that energy to take action in real-life.
4. Sometimes leaders don’t post on social media about current events because they are trying to practice self-care by stewarding their emotional health.
Your favorite Christian leader is not immune to anxiety and depression and other related mental health issues just because he or she has proven to be a faithful and fruitful leader. They might have emotional and mental health issues that you know nothing about. Posting about every current event will worsen their mental stability. In an effort to practice self-care, they don’t post about every current event and you should not expect them to.
5. Sometimes leaders don’t speak out because they feel as if they lack the credibility, influence, and authority to speak on the issue.
They are silent not because they don’t care, but because they humbly feel as if this particular topic is out of their lane, and it’s best to learn from others and allow the authority figures in the niche to do the speaking as opposed to themselves.
There are many more reasons why a Christian leader will choose not to post on social media about a current event. Some of my favorite Christian leaders don’t even have a social media account and I sometimes wonder if I should follow suit. I’m glad that the Lord has entrusted some with a large platform to reach others with meaningful content during a cultural crisis. But this should not characterize the agenda of every Christian leader. Whether you’re an authority figure or your following is modest, a cultural event does not automatically necessitate your thoughts on social media. 1And this is liberating news.
You may also like: