Right now, the city of Baltimore is littered with damage from rioters who, for whatever reason, thought violence was an appropriate way to protest the death of a man in police custody. At the same time, people are littering their Facebook and Twitter news feed with commentary about it. Some of the statements are more thoughtful, some are less thoughtful, but all of them potentially come with a price.
A few years ago, Andy Stanley did an interview with Christianity Today in which he addressed another controversy that had gone viral at the time but has since been forgotten. He said something that’s worth repeating today:
I tell leaders, “Never give away influence unnecessarily.” There’s a time. There’s a hill to die on. But for the most part, you never unnecessarily give away influence.
For the people who tweeted all those hateful things—I won’t even mention names—well, I don’t know why they did it. I thought, Okay, you just gave away influence. . . .
Again, I tell leaders, “Make a difference. Don’t be satisfied with making a point.” It’s easy to make a point. If you have a computer, a blog, a Twitter account, you can make a point. But you’re not going to make a difference. We have been called to be difference makers.
Perhaps you’re tempted to use your social media platform to address the situation in Baltimore or you’ll be tempted speak your mind about the next controversy that temporarily erupts. There’s nothing wrong with that per se; but while you’re at it, ask yourself whether you’re unnecessarily giving away influence for the sake of making a point that doesn’t make a difference.
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).