Where is your attention most of the day? What concerns, thoughts, worries, and fears consume you most of the day? And where do you take them?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In the last year, I got to a place where I was getting tired of “me”. Having a “profile” about me, a website about me, me, me, me…. after a while it felt like everything I was trying to “keep up with” had my name all over it. Not just because I have a job that requires me to communicate, but just the state of our social media focused world, lately.
If you are on social media, I’m sure you feel it too. If you have teens, they are feeling it in ways we as parents don’t even understand. The growing anxiety to put out content, rack up likes and subscriptions to Youtube channels, etc is forming us and our children- daily. We are molding idols of ourselves.
Did you know that teens right now have “influencer” at the top of their list as the number one career choice? That’s right… a social media “influencer”. Even worse, Gen Z is now saying that a college education isn’t as necessary as it was in our generation (parents). Now, you can get by on charisma and numbers alone. But kids and adults are dying inside and a piece of me has been too.
And then I found this verse in Psalms,
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”
So… we become what we worship- or at least taking on the likeness of whatever it is. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be though? If I seek after God, isn’t my goal to become more like him? To share in his heart for the world and be moved by the things He is moved by? Wouldn’t it make sense other idols do the same?
So then what are you worshiping? I realized I was worshiping a couples of things:
Me. That’s hard to confess, but I’m sure I’m not alone. It’s not that I had a prideful heart necessarily, I am largely driven by serving others. However, it has been tempting to compete with “influencers” by putting out content, marketing myself, profiles with my name on them, monitoring those, etc. I’m not saying those tools are inherently bad- but if I am more focused on what the number of likes says about my level of “influence” and how I can get my name out there- that’s a red flag for me. One thing that I have been gauging my heart is something I heard from Francis Chan. He actually left his ministry and shut down his social media accounts after he walked into an event to speak and realized he was more excited about the people coming to see him than what he was prepared to teach on. If I make myself an idol, what does it mean for me to become more of what I am worshiping- more full of myself. That scares me to high heaven. That, my friends, is an ugly disaster coming at full speed. I’m so scared of that- it makes me willing to shut it all down everyday if that is what I need to do.
Devices. I don’t think I need to say a lot on this one because you feel it too. We can’t put them down. We want to be all things to all people, there for anyone in the world to contact us and sacrificing our families to respond. And most of us as parents are hypocrites. We tell our children that social media is “unsafe”, will suck them in, that they aren’t developmentally prepared for it, but then can’t put it down ourselves. Why is a friend from 5 years ago that you met in passing (and will likely never see again) worth your time over the child in front of you? Calm down, now… it’s me too. Maybe that defensiveness is a red flag. You know what it looks like to become our devices as we worship them? Exactly what Psalms tells us. We will be so consumed with everything NON-IMPORTANT that we will miss it- everything. We won’t see the life in front of us, experience joy, we will miss God because we won’t see him, hear him, feel him. All because we couldn’t put down a damn phone. How do I stand before him someday and explain that? We have become the machines we hold CONSTANTLY in our hands.
Others. Yep- it is possible to worship other people as idols. We chase after their acceptance. Now that I am in my forties, I get what everyone said about just not caring anymore. My 30’s were exhausting. Partly for the right reasons like raising my family and working hard, but you know what I lost a TON of energy on? Other people’s opinions that didn’t matter. Your reputation matters, integrity matters. You know what doesn’t matter? Your parents’ opinion on a calling you KNOW God has placed on your life. Your boss’s misunderstanding of what you KNOW to be true. Someone else’s reaction to you speaking truth in kindness. And it is their opinion that holds you back from being your true, good self (after you have gone to the real God in your life that is the source of that truth. **Note, if you just go on your own strength and opinion you are likely stuck in #1 above- you- so watch out.) My point here is that I have given so much power to previous bosses, spiteful women (that’s the worst), family, and even my own husband to have more influence in my life and self-worth than the one who created me- and I’d like to do better. Worshiping other people makes us only more consumed by their opinions. We become erratic, paranoid, and lose the influence God had planned for us. Simply because we chased other people thinking it would get us where we need to go. Nope- “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Prov 16:9
This year, I started to make a transition away from “me”. I kept my main website for those who need to search for me for events, but I switched my content over to Life-giver.org as a way to build it into a community page of content. A place for everyone. It is exhausting to compete with “influencers” and I only want to influence others toward wholeness.
If you see me making changes this year its because I have two amazing teen boys that deserve every bit of my attention to get them ready to live in a world that will eat them alive if I don’t train them. I’m also going to be more bold than I was before and I know I will lose listeners. I’m okay with that now because the truth I am called to deliver is more powerful than my opinion. God is growing me in confidence of Him. I will definitely mess up, but I will own it because I am not a god- thank goodness. It is way too exhausting of a job description, so I think I’ll quit that one.