People today will do almost anything to build a platform of followers. Once a platform of followers is built people walk a fine line trying not to offend anyone in fear of having people unfollow them.
What I find interesting is that Jesus did the exact opposite several times over the years of his public ministry. Whenever Jesus goes countercultural, we should pay attention as he is showing us the way we should live.
Jesus often caused people to unfollow him because they followed him for the wrong motives. They were gawkers seeking to be entertained or there only with selfish motives. To get people to unfollow him he gave hard teachings or spoke the truth to people unwilling to accept it. Examples of this can be found in Luke chapter 4 and John chapter 6. In one instance people got so upset with the truth that Jesus presented that they were determined to throw him off a cliff. Don’t believe me? Dust off that Bible and get to reading.
Think about your online following.
- How often do you check how many followers you have?
- How often do you play the comparison game and judge your worth based on how many followers your friends have?
- Do you allow your self-esteem to be wrapped up in your number of followers or lack thereof?
- How often do you post or repost things in hopes of growing your following?
- How often do you resist posting things or liking things that you fear would cause people to unfollow you?
Jesus sought an audience of 1 (God, the Father), 3 (Peter, James, and John the inner circle of disciples), 12 (his disciples), and a slightly larger crowd of around 100 people including family and close friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Jesus’ example is one that we should follow.
Now ask yourself, how many of your followers do you really know? How many do you really need? How many of them would qualify as just people who are gawkers seeking to be entertained or there for selfish motives? These are all good questions to ask yourself.
What if you went through your list of followers and defined your 1, 3, and 12 people? Your inner circle of friends and family that you would do anything for and would expect the same in return. I promise if you work through some of these questions it will help improve your mental health and overall quality of life.
Jesus, though the Son of God, knew the limitations of his reach and influence. That is why he focused so intensely on the 1, 3, and 12. That is why from time to time he purposefully made people “unfollow” him. It allowed him to stay intentional, and intimate, and ultimately change the world through a smaller more committed group of followers.
Jesus understood the principle, that narrowing your focus expands your probability of success.
Is it bad to have a large following? Absolutely not, assuming they are there for the right motives. Could you benefit from following the example of Jesus and thinning your crowd? Probably!
How can you follow the example of Jesus and grow a healthier and possibly smaller following of people?
- Be unafraid to post the truth online, not “your truth” but the actual truth.
- Share Bible verses, even the ones that run countercultural. Remember God calls us to be “light in the darkness.”
- Post prayers and ask for prayers.
- Be unafraid to like and reshare posts that expose evil for what it is. Remember that God calls us “in the world but not of it.”
- Stand up for people online who are being mistreated. You never know how much your voice may matter to someone.
- Unfollow people who are unhealthy or who cause you to be distracted from what God wants for your life. Don’t be that gawker to someone else that you don’t want to follow you.
I hope you allow this to challenge you. I know I have drawn great freedom from hitting the unfollow button on people that I know held a negative influence on my life. Don’t think you are brave enough to hit the unfollow button yet? That is okay. Hammer the mute button instead. I bet you will feel better, and it will give you the strength to unfollow soon. I know the less I check my followers the better I typically feel. I know I feel better when I focus on my 1, 3, and 12 because I am definitely not more capable than Jesus to hold an intimate influence over my larger group of followers.
Let me leave you with the following truth.
Less is always more.
This is relevant in almost every area of life. It applies to your online following too. Trust me. Wait, don’t trust me. Trust Jesus. He modeled it in his life and ministry.