The Defeat and Reality of Sin
My demeanor changed. My heart sank. My disposition became gloomy. The moment I was notified that another mega church pastor was being removed–albeit temporarily–from a ministry position broke my heart. My theological commitments acknowledge that we still live in a fallen world. Yes, sin has been defeated by Jesus, but we all still wrestle with it (cf. 1 Pet 2:11).
Paul David Tripp in his book, Lead, explains, “The gospel will humble you because it requires you to confess that the greatest dangers in your life live inside you and not outside you” (p. 59). The Apostle Peter stated, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Pet 2:11). We must acknowledge that the gospel recognizes our sin struggles as ministry leaders and Christ followers. Everything we have done, are struggling with, and will do has “already been covered by the life, sacrifice, and victory of Jesus” (p. 58, Lead). Therefore, while we are covered by the blood of Jesus we should do everything possible to protect ourselves from the greatest dangers that lurk inside each one of us.
The Importance of Our Current Character in Christian Ministry
Our current character plays a significant role in Christian ministry (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9). Character for ministry leaders provides a window into the gospel’s power and impact. Does this mean that we are to be perfect? On the one hand, we are perfect in Christ. On the other hand, we are being perfected in Christ now. So, the answer to that question is, “No.”
When ministry leaders fail or are removed for disqualifying reasons, this impacts the church and culture in two ways. Firstly, it reminds everyone that the only person we should be putting our trust in is Jesus Christ. Jesus’s fully divine and human nature makes him truly perfect. The incarnation of Jesus Christ signifies that he will never fail you. When a pastor or Christian leader falls, it reminds all of us that we are to put our trust in the savior not his servants.
Secondly, ministry leaders who make disqualifying mistakes hinder the gospel’s ability to reach more people. Whether we like it or not or whether it is a valid position or not, people will use the fall of ministry leaders to be an argument against the good news of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:16 that we all need to keep a watchful eye on both our life (character) and our teaching (doctrine). We should strive, as ministry leaders, to maintain a consistent life of character and holiness so that we don’t potentially damage the gospel’s message that we proclaim.
To Delete or Not Delete; That Is the Question
With this background, here is why ministry leaders should delete their Instagram accounts right now. In a book by Jaron Lanier titled, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts, he warns, “Ordinary people are brought together in a setting in which the main–or often the only–reward that’s available is attention.” Let me be quick to caveat that Lanier is probably lost, and he uses some profane language in his book–i.e., read with caution. However, his expertise in social media’s technological side speaks to one of the main reasons to delete your accounts. Ordinary people don’t act like ordinary people on social media outlets because they are designed to generate attention from other users. Attention becomes the motive for our social media usage, and this leads us to possibly compromise our character for clicks–i.e., hearts, likes, and angry faces.
Ministry leaders have the potential to compromise their character and ministry calling due to social media’s technological design. These technology platforms create an online space where we are tempted to put our callings on a shelf so that we can fuel the narcistic person dwelling within us–i.e., gain attention. The reality is that this often happens subtly. It’s like the boiling a frog analogy. You boil the frog by incrementally turning up the heat as the frog acclimates leading to its demise. Social media has the same subtle draw on our character. We begin to do things and say things that we would–hopefully–rarely do in real life. Social media creates an online environment where we can be duplicitous even though we don’t recognize it until it’s too late.
A Pragmatic Consideration
To be completely transparent, the Lord has given ministry leaders all that we can handle with the real people in our lives and ministry contexts. Why would we want to add more to our plates with people in the online sphere who we either barely know or don’t know at all? If we have all this time to give to the online world, how much time are we losing in ministering to those in our real spheres of influence? Why not be an ordinary person to ordinary people not seeking attention through the social media illusion, but rather making disciples who make disciples that reach to the ends of the earth?
A Call to Action:
Ministry leader, consider deleting your Instagram and all other social media accounts today in light of this analysis on how these platforms might impact our Christian character.
Do not miss any of Jeremy’s work by subscribing here:
The Fear When I teach or share about the dangers of social media among ministry leaders, I am often confronted with a hesitant smile, a subtle eye roll, or the polite head nod. The reasons are multitudinous, but I think that many people in ministry have an underlying fear that prevents them from deleting their … Continue reading How to Use Social Media in Ministry
The Excitement and Unease of Hiring Hiring staff is an exciting time in the life of any church or organization. Building a team signifies that your organization or church is growing. Of course, the hiring process could also be filled with uncertainties and insecurities. Questions like: What if we hire the wrong person? What if … Continue reading Are You Hiring? The 4 C’s for Building Your Team
Introduction Carl R. Trueman is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College and earned his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Aberdeen. He is a renown church historian and wrote The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to the Sexual Revolution with this … Continue reading The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: A Review and Brief Analysis