Writings by Cole Huffman

Don't RT This

I think it’s bad form for ministers to retweet (RT) others praise of us. If the effusive RTs were occasional on my Twitter feed I wouldn’t say anything. But they’re not, and Twitter is not an inconsequential tool for a lot of us in ministry.

Twitter is inherently self-promoting, yes. For me too. Before I had a Twitter account I dismissed its media as narcissistic. But I softened, realizing it’s not the medium itself but how one uses it. For any who’ll listen, please consider sizing your digital footprint according to Proverbs 27:2: “Let another praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

Retweeting another’s praise seems to me to be a kind of cheating on Solomon’s words. Think of it this way: I would never stand in my church’s pulpit and say, “Do y’all know what Sally back there told me last week after I preached? She said I really nailed it, killed it, hit it out of the park. She said she learns something new from me every time I speak. She said I’m the best pastor she’s ever known in her whole life!” And yet if Sally tweeted any of those superlatives to me, I could pass them along with a humble “//Thanks!” tagged on, as if I’m checking myself that the RT is really about honoring Sally before my followers for taking the time to encourage her pastor. Isn’t it better to simply thank Sally via a single tweet directed to her? If someone wants to view the ebullient tweet from her that prompts such a reply they can. You might fill a feed with a lot of thanks to @person1, @person2, @person3 this way, but you’ll be demonstrating for the church, and the world, a better way to steward a compliment—something a lot pastors get way more of than the average Joe, especially the larger our spotlight.

Everything is a stewardship, including people’s praise of us. Speaking for myself, every Sunday I am praised for my pulpit performance. Affirming emails follow throughout the week. This means I am not underappreciated. If anything I am over-appreciated by my church’s people, sometimes to an embarrassing degree. This can make my skin thinner and jaw glassier, by the way, as I’m all the more sensitized then to that one hater occasionally pouncing on me. As Tozer said though, “The deadliest perils are subtle.” Deference is deadliest when it’s friendliest to the point of fawning. It’s the person in whose eyes I can do no wrong I pray for the most to gain a greater vision of Jesus.

Twitter is a nice contact tool for a cloistered profession, particularly those pastors who labor at preaching and teaching, work that necessitates a lot of time alone. We wonder if we’re really connecting on Sundays even when we know we are (most of us pastors are men beset by insecurities in this regard). And then we pick up our phones on a Sunday evening or Monday morning and…yes, we connected again! There are the atta-boy tweets for us.

Well, enjoy those tweeted encouragements, brothers. Pray them back to God in gratitude, an opportunity for praise, for our gifts and calling are from Him, and our interests are in making much of Him to our people.

Posted by Cole Huffman at 11:14 AM
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