I love social media. I love life online. But I’m worried about what it might be doing the souls of some leaders.
Does closely following the lives of other leaders threaten to erode the unique footprint of your leadership?
Let me explain. Fifteen years ago, most of us couldn’t closely track other leaders. If you wanted to know about a leader, you had to buy a book or attend a conference. You might get to their website on a good day when the dial up connection was strong.
Now, through Facebook, Twitter, podcasts and blogs you can follow anyone you want to and everyone you want to and know pretty much anything you want to about them. So many of us follow dozens, hundred or thousands of leaders: from Erwin McManus to Andy Stanley to Reggie Joiner to Donald Miller to Perry Noble and more. We do it because we admire them and appreciate them. That in itself isn’t a problem.
The problem shows up here: It’s hard not to imitate the people we admire. But how much energy do we squander as leaders trying to imitate someone we will never be?
How many leaders mismanage time and energy trying too hard to imitate the communication of Andy Stanley, the creativity of Erwin McManus, the innovation of Reggie Joiner or the poignancy of Donald Miller when they should be developing their own gifts, loving their own people and working hard at building the ministry God has given them?
In all likelihood, the people you admire most never set out in life trying to be someone else. They made a mark by developing the gifting God gave them.
Don’t get me wrong: I love learning from the best of the best (and I track with lots of people). But healthy learning encourages us to get better at what we’re doing. Unhealthy imitation makes us wish we were doing what they’re doing. It can also lead to a cascade of negative thoughts like “How come I can’t communicate like _________? Why can’t I be as clever as _________?” Just enough for the enemy to squander potential.
God will never ask me or you why we weren’t more like Andy Stanley. He won’t ask us why we didn’t write more like Donald Miller or have as many brilliant ideas as my good friend Reggie Joiner. Here’s the question God might ask us: why didn’t you develop more of the unique gifting and talents I gave you? After all, God will never hold you accountable for something he never gave you.
Do your social media habit feed an unhealthy desire to be someone God never created us to be? What would happen if you diverted half the attention you give to others into asking God what he would love for you to do? What are some other pitfalls you see of social media and instant access to people we admire?