This post was written by Derek Jones, a member of the INCM Blog team.
I’ve known about Pat Williams since I first watched Shaquille O’Neal play for the Orlando Magic. His leadership in the NBA launched major basketball stars, created future coaches, and took many teams to the playoffs.
Over the years, he has written dozens of books and spoken on leadership to thousands. I had the opportunity to meet Pat Williams at a small leadership conference last year. He coached us in our faith for a few minutes, but it had a lasting impact on my continued faith journey.
The most important thing he reminded us about was the discipline of daily Scripture reading. He taught us a practice of reading one small book of the Bible every day for a month. While this practice sounds repetitive and mundane, he said, “When you read the same book every day for a month, the Scripture becomes yours.” As you read the Scripture, it becomes a part of who you are and how you live your life.
He First Loved Us
During this season where so much is unknown, many are divided, and the truth seems increasingly hard to find, I returned to this practice of Scripture reading. I’ve been digging into 1 John this month and the powerful words of this Scripture have been invading my life. 1 John 4:19-21 says:
“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Since most of our interactions with people are limited to Zoom calls and social media these days, it can be difficult to look at everyone with God’s love. It can be hard to show love for others as they share their opinions on masks, schools opening, churches not opening, general politics, and all the other things dividing our country right now. It is hard to separate the person from their opinions when all we see is what they post online.
Protecting Our Love for Others
So, I’ve made a couple of personal boundaries to protect the love I have for my brothers and sisters during these divisive times to help me live out the powerful challenge of 1 John.
1. Moving all social media apps into a folder on my phone.
This simple change makes me think twice before opening them. Maybe I am a simple man, but this has made a huge impact on my choices when I have downtime. I am spending less time on social media, even going days without opening an app. It has given me the opportunity to actually relax when I need to relax, read a book, or have more intentional time to read Scripture. This has also reminded me to take a minute to talk to human beings live and in person.
2. Silencing some friends’ social media accounts for a season.
This isn’t “cancel culture,” it’s just giving me the opportunity to separate real people from their virtual opinions. Just as I know one opinion doesn’t define the entirety of who I am, the same rings true for other people in my life and ministry. I want to be able to greet everyone with love when our church regathers. I refuse to let social media define my understanding of those who faithfully serve the Lord with me, yet differ on the temporary topics of the day. Silencing their opinion feed will help me see them through the eyes of the Lord when I actually see them with my own eyes.
So, as these uncertain and divided days continue to swirl around us, our choices can really define our love for God and those we encounter. As a leader, it is my responsibility to set boundaries and focus on spiritual disciplines. I will continue to make changes in my life for God to be glorified by my actions. I challenge you to do the same.
Remember to use social media as an enhancement to your life and ministry, not an extension of your identity. Make time to truly study God’s Word and make it your own.
If we can start making decisions to deny the trappings of our culture, we will be able to fully love one another as Jesus would.
Derek has served in ministry his entire life as a pastor’s kid and has been leading in ministry for over a decade. He currently serves as the Family Development Pastor at Revolution Church in Canton, GA. Derek spends his days equipping parents to lead their kids and students to love Jesus and empowering the next generation to change the world today! Derek and his wife, Tori, fill their lives by celebrating everything they can while creating family memories with their three incredible kids Zoe, Lincoln, and Charlie.