When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 14:7-11 (NLT)
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT)
From time to time, I get messages in my Twitter account or e-mail notifying me that I’ve been “awarded a K+” on Klout by a wonderful colleague and friend of our ministry. Every time I get one of these messages, I contend with a great ambivalence about responding. I either need to be all-in or all-out. Feel free to share a little wisdom and discernment.
What’s Klout you ask? Here’s a description from the company’s Facebook page:
Klout measures influence across the social web.
Klout tracks the impact of your opinions, links and recommendations across your social graph. We collect data about the content you create, how people interact with that content and the size and composition of your network. From there, we analyze the data to find indicators of influence and then provide you with innovative tools to interact with and interpret the data.
That doesn’t sound too bad. Except that everyone is assigned a Klout “score” that is very prominently displayed when one clicks a link to their site. And the site is basically designed to promote competition and foster self-promotion. So…why bother?
Conference organizers, publishers, bloggers and other folks in old and new media are very interested in Klout scores, because leaders with high Klout scores have a demonstrable ability to influence other people to view and respond to their content.
One of the biggest surprises I encountered in the process of shifting more of my time and energy from the medical world to the ministry world was a level of narcissistic self-promotion in ministry that would shame my most competitive colleagues in medicine. Would you like an example? Enter the following terms in Google: ministry blog march madness. I came up with 2.76 million results.
I served three terms on the Program Committee for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In order to speak at the Academy’s meeting, we actually required all of our presenters to have done something of interest or significance. In most instances in ministry world, it appears you either have to be pastor of a big, cool church, have the capacity to sell lots of books or have the demonstrated ability to get the attention of lots of people in order to obtain a platform to influence others.
So here’s the dilemma…We have a fabulous team of speakers and trainers at Key Ministry and friends and colleagues in other ministries with wonderful ideas and strategies and resources that I want to get in front of as many pastors, church staff and volunteers as possible so that they can help connect families of kids with disabilities to churches. There are certain rules in place that guide who gets access to platforms of influence. I think we’re doing this for the right reason if we use resources like Klout, but…
I come back to the Scripture verses above, and many others like them. How do we serve the purposes of God without reflecting the character traits of God? The temptation for self-promotion through social media seems great. And we’re supposed to flee from temptation, right?
What’s a good Christian to do?