Everything Changes, Yet So Much Is Still The Same!

I remember when I only used a razor to shave my legs! Now, my “razr” is my phone. Yes, I finally broke down and joined the world of smart phones. Actually, I was a bit forced into the upgrade because of the plans that are available in our area. The best thing about my new phone is the swipe option. This little ‘language style’ works great for me because the keys tend to be sensitive to the left. If I hit anywhere else on the key, I got the wrong letter – and often the wrong message. Those wrong messages can cause the recipient great laughter or great confusion!

No matter what technology an individual uses or what century they lived in, the reality is that communication can easily get misinterpreted. Add in the realities of social media or any form of communication where you can’t see the person, or even hear the tone in their voice and you’re just waiting for a misunderstanding to happen – even with smiley faces galore!

The switch from dial phones to touch tone phones to cordless phones to cell phones wasn’t really too bad. The basics worked the same in the process, just the mechanics were a bit different. Social media, however, is a whole new breed of communication. Or is it? Many aspects of social media parallel quite closely with the eavesdropping communication that took place on party lines as well as this centuries old form of communication – the grapevine!

As a pastor’s wife, I have not braved to enter the world of social media beyond communicating with my girls. The biggest questions in my mind have been –

“How can I politely refuse to friend someone?”

“How can I keep some measure of privacy and peace in my relationships?"

“How do I unfriend someone and not create an issue in my church family or for my husband?”

Over the years, I’ve asked many pastors’ wives their opinion on this topic. For the vast majority, they either friend everyone so they don’t cause an offense or they just ‘ignore’ those who cause issues when necessary. I had never heard a good response from someone in ministry until just recently. In the book “Leading and Loving It,” authors Wilhite & Wilson say “We treat our teeny-tiny corners of the social networking world like our online homes. So if we wouldn’t let people standing in our kitchens talk to us about our friends, our churches, or our families the way they are talking to us online, then we delete, block or unfriend.” They also shared this insight for dealing with the delicate balance of ministry and media. “We need to assume that nothing is private. With the ability to copy, download, share and repost, we decided long ago that if we wouldn’t post our update on a billboard in town or on the screens in our churches, we wouldn’t post it on Facebook.”

Wow! These words finally broke open the communication barrier for me. I am able to relate to the philosophy that social media is “an extension of our public lives.” For now, I’m still not expanding my social media presence, but I have a new perspective to consider. I know there is much good that can happen through connections online when accompanied with face-to-face communication as well. Perhaps you have also been struggling with what your communication should look like on Facebook, Instagram or other social media outlets. If so, why not take this new twist on communication and ask God how it can best fit into your world as a pastor's wife. How can you use it to enhance your relationships without creating a potential monster in life? It is a lot to think about.

As the world keeps changing and new technologies come and go, each generation will be challenged to keep up. Regardless of what our world looks like today, the heart of the matter stays the same. “Whether in our online lives or in our daily lives and routines, God has given us an incredible responsibility and gift of influence in the lives of others as pastors’ wives and women in leadership.” (Leading & Loving It) Why not take a moment now to consider what you’ve been doing with that gift of influence lately – whether online or in person with those you come in contact with each day? Each of us may be missing some great opportunities to truly listen to those around us, to build relationships and to make a difference in someone else's world.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19


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