It has happened once again. It is happening far too often.
One of the young ladies in our student ministry had two friends commit suicide.
They were barely teenagers.
What would lead them to do this? Too often, when investigated, it is discovered that there is a link to derogatory online conversations.
I have seen a misuse of online communications with adults as well. I have seen women complain about husbands. I have seen private matters addressed publicly. I have seen comments that cause divisions.
Why does this happen? Somewhere along the line, a gap has developed between the principles guiding our speech and what we post online.
There seems to be a sense of being masked or behind a curtain that makes people feel free to speak on social media in a manner that they would never do face to face. We forget the power of words to bring life or to bring death to our friends and acquaintances. (Proverbs 18:21)
I heard the term digital discipleship on the radio one day. I only heard a snippet of the conversation because I was running errands, getting in and out of my car.
The speaker may have been referring to the use of the Internet for the purposes of biblical discipleship. While this is a great way to use this tool, the phrase “digital discipleship” brought another picture to my mind: Actual teaching about right and wrong ways to communicate on social media.
I was taught in my growing up years, how to speak to others. There were Biblical truths that shaped the choice of words and the manner in which they were spoken. I think in this day and age, those principles need taught with the application emphasis being extended to the Internet!
Do a project with your students. This could be a great Bible study/ writing assignment. Have them do a Google search of verses that pertain to our speech. Let them express in discussion or in writing how these verses should influence the content of comments made in texts, or posts on social media.
Are the words you post seasoned with salt? Are they words that will make unreached people thirsty to know Christ? (Colossians 4:6)
Are my words wholesome? Are they words that edify or build up others? Are they Kind? (Ephesians 4:29-32)
Do I know when to refrain from posting a comment? (Proverbs 10: 19)
Do my words soothe others or do they offer a crushing blow? (Proverbs 15:4)
Do I gush everything I know and think or do I wisely weigh out the effect of my words on others? (Proverbs 15:28)
Am I repeating everything I hear, or am I lovingly keeping things to myself? (Proverbs 17:9)
Am I adding fuel to the forest fire? (Proverbs 26:20)
Am I asking God to put a guard on my words and guide me to use them wisely? (Psalm 141:3)
Do I realize the power in my words? (Proverbs 18:21)
Do you listen and try to understand others or are you just looking to air your own opinion? (Proverbs 18:2)
Possibly you have limited your student’s access to texting and social media. Kudos to you! But now is the time to talk about it.
One day they will most likely use some of these venues to communicate. They need to know God’s guidelines. Do not neglect “digital discipleship”.