Category Archives: Spiritual disciplines

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Practical Guide to a Healthier Conversation

The last few posts on social media as a spiritual discipline all lead up to this post. What can you actually do to have a healthier online conversation?

1 – The Pause

Instead of jumping in quickly to respond to comment after comment you stop. Take a moment to gather your thoughts. It may be 20 seconds. It may mean you never return to the conversation. Before you get into the downward spiral of a negative feedback loop you break the cycle by pausing. This may feel like “letting them win” by them having the last word but it is exactly the opposite. It is you gaining and maintaining control over yourself rather than being reactive. Who said this was about winning anyway? Some of the most ruthless conversations online happen at lightspeed. This happens when people react, quickly, with little thought or filter. But you don’t want to be a person who lives their life just reacting to others. You want to be proactive and intentional with your words and relationships.

No one is good enough to engage in a disciplined, well-reasoned conversation operating from a reactive, light-speed posture that is in harmony with God’s will. No one. We can do this in perfect harmony with our own will but not God’s.

2 – Take your thoughts captive to Christ

What do you do in the pause? I  suggest you memorize and meditate on 2 Corinthians 10:5 where Paul tells us to take every thought captive to Christ. Compare what you are going to say to what Jesus would say and see if it passes the test. Another scriptural filter to pass your thoughts through is Philippians 4:8 – whatever is true, excellent, noble, right, pure, lovely, praiseworthy, etc…As you type your reply, does it pass this test?

The pause also allows us to allow our physiology calm down. See the previous post on that.

3 – Listen attentively

The pause also gives you time to listen. Read and re-read the other person’s comment. I cannot tell you how many times I read something too quickly and responded having missed some key words and looked foolish. It wasn’t hard to understand. I was just moving too quickly and didn’t “listen”. There is little more frustrating online than someone telling you what you think…and getting it wrong. It is invalidation and it is inconsiderate. So make a rule of life here to stop making assumptions and take the time to ask. This is how we get better at listening by asking for clarification rather than using assumption to fill in the gaps. Assuming too much is intellectually lazy and inconsiderate. How can you engage an idea you don’t even understand? Don’t presume to think you do understand right away.

4 – Admin/acknowledge where they are correct and where you are wrong

This is probably the hardest one, at least once you get the pause down. What all these steps point us to is the removal of barriers and defensiveness so we can really talk. There is little more disarming than an apology. It is hard to bash someone who is being vulnerable. It happens but it takes a special kind of person to do that. When was the last time you saw someone apologize or admit they were wrong on social media?

5 – Discuss issues not people or personalities

Once a conversation turns personal (as in personal attacks) there are very few ways to get it back on track. Keep pulling yourself back to the original point of the discussion, if anyone even knows what it was!

6 – Address the difficulty of the conversation

It is good to know that it isn’t easy for someone to talk about hard things. There are times I will say this is hard for me to discuss, “I really don’t enjoy talking about this issue…it is truly upsetting to me at times but I think we need to in order to move ahead.” This helps the other person understand you aren’t flippant or gleefully discussing difficult things but that you recognize the gravity and importance of the conversation – it is being taken seriously. Or maybe I say that I am having a hard time getting my thoughts together. This allows us to be patient with each other.

7 – Be willing to pray for and bless the other person

This is a great way to end a conversation whether it ended well or not. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. This is saying we can still be friends even though we don’t agree. This is one more thing you can do in the pause – pray for the other person (as well as yourself). This will help put your mindset in the right place.

What are some things you would add to the list?

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Physiology

There is one more thing I want to discuss before I get into what one can do to have a more productive and loving online conversation. One of the biggest things that is working against our success in our innate physiology. Have you ever been insulted online? If so how did you feel when itContinue Reading

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Entropy

I have never seen a political or religious argument ascend into pics of the grandkids or even what someone had for dinner last night but I have seen pics of the grands or your latest, greatest dinner devolve into a verbal assault. Entropy – the idea that things fall apart, that organization more easily turnsContinue Reading

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Resistance

Spiritual disciplines require training. Training requires resistance. I believe spiritual disciplines take discipline because they don’t come naturally to us. If they did it wouldn’t take discipline to do them. This is why I believe using social media as a Christian can be a spiritual discipline. It comes with natural barriers to productive and effectiveContinue Reading

Learning to Talk With God

Raising kids makes for some fun and challenging times. One of the things that we feel is essential to their growth and maturity is how to talk with adults. There are basic rules of civility that we want our kids to know and do when it comes to talking with adults, for example – lookContinue Reading

Resist

The more you learn to resist what ought to be resisted the stronger you get. The converse is also true, the less you resist what ought to be resisted the weaker and more mentally and spiritually feeble you become. Resistance is key to personal, physical and spiritual growth. Lifting weights is called “resistance” training forContinue Reading

Dealing with Fear Requires Discipline

“Fear is the greatest obstacle to learning. But fear is your best friend. Fear is like fire. If you learn to control it, you let it work for you. If you don’t learn to control it, it’ll destroy you and everything around you. You think you know the difference between a hero and a coward, Mike?Continue Reading

Spiritual Muscle Confusion

When Missy and I lived in Memphis we used to do P90 in our apartment. If we ever wondered why the neighbors who lived below us seemed a little unpleasant, we had to look no further than P90. We did so much jumping and punching and kicking that I am sure it drove them crazy!Continue Reading

Making Spiritual Disciplines More Than Just Another “To Do”

Spiritual disciplines aren’t just one more thing to keep us busy. They don’t exist to occupy our mind. We don’t do them as penance. Spiritual disciplines are here for us as tools to focus on God, put him first and find our ultimate delight and fulfillment solely in God. Too often in the past, IContinue Reading

Study Guide on Spiritual Disciplines by John Dobbs Now Available

Check out the most recently uploaded study guide by John Dobbs called “A Deeper Walk.” It is 13 lessons in 60 pages and the material is excellent! This would be great for a class but I would also encourage those of you who aren’t teachers but are looking for a Bible study to do onContinue Reading

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