How Should We as Believers Conduct Ourselves on Public or Social Platforms?
Let me start by saying I’ve seen quite a few ‘hissy fits’ from people in the general Church arena in my 27 years leading ministries… and I’m being conservative. Nowadays, we see this happening, not just in our church circles or social circles, but on social media too.
Leaders, you are called to love people, not to take abuse in the name of love. The same applies to the reverse (Keeping in mind that sometimes, what some people think is ‘the reverse’ is often more about their own issues than anything else.)
In my course on Rejection, I teach how those of us that have not experienced healing easily blame others instead of taking responsibility for our own actions.
This most often happens when we have experienced some form of rejection in our lives.
In a place of spiritual or emotional ‘unhealedness’, Scripture’s intentions on certain issues can easily be misunderstood, when seen through the eyes of woundedness. (A story or topic for another time).
But I want to start with this passage of Scripture from the Book of Wisdom, because it is a universal passage of Scripture for all of us as believers, and if we will take the advice the Word of God gives us here, it will help us understand the core of what we need to move forward in our life and in our spiritual growth for the future. To move forward and grow, we have to hear God’s voice and walk in obedience to it.
Prov 3:1-12 (TPT) “The Rewards of Wisdom My child, if you truly want a long and satisfying life, never forget the things that I’ve taught you. Follow closely every truth that I’ve given you. Then you will have a full, rewarding life.
3 Hold on to loyal love and don’t let go, and be faithful to all that you’ve been taught. Let your life be shaped by integrity, with truth written upon your heart.
4 That’s how you will find favour and understanding with both God and people — you will gain the reputation of living life well.
Wisdom’s Guidance 5 Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on God to guide you, and The Lord will lead you in every decision you make.
6 Become intimate with the Lord in whatever you do, and God will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment that you know it all,
7 for wisdom comes when you adore God with undivided devotion and avoid everything that’s wrong.
8 Then you will find the healing refreshment your body and spirit long for.
9 Glorify God with all your wealth, honouring The Lord with your very best, with every increase that comes to you.
10 Then every dimension of your life will overflow with blessings from an uncontainable source of inner joy!”
(Pay attention especially to vs 5-6. Following the heart of God is key for us.)
1) What does Scripture teach us about what should come out of our mouths?
Let’s have a look:
Eph 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Slander must be put to death if we intend to follow Jesus. We must sanctify Christ, not do the opposite because of what precedes from our mouths.
– We are to build up not pull down.
Prov 16:28 teaches us this: “A perverse person stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
Gossip and bad talking someone, never makes us look better, in fact, it most likely ‘shows up’ our issues and insecurities even more.
In 1 Pet 3:14-16 NIV, The Word of God gives us this advice:
“14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
When people use social media as a platform to slander others, it should always raise suspicion about their motives.
When people continually use social media as a platform to slander, gossip and run leaders and others down, speaking half truth and untruths, it should immediately raise suspicion.
Scripture gives us clarity on what should be coming out of our mouths if we are truly serving God.
We may not always get it right, but continual and repetitive slander is a sure sign that person making such accusations, has a bitter root and needs healing, which is discussed in my next point in this teaching.
2) How does scripture describe the origins of slander?
Scripture teaches us that a desire to slander can spring from:
– A root of bitterness (Heb 12:15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.)
– Unresolved hurt (1 Pet 3:14-16 see above).
– Unforgiveness (2 Cor. 2:10-11, Eph 4:32).
– Refusing to acknowledge wrongdoing. (Titus 1:16, Matt 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance).
Of course, there are many more for example insecurity that comes from roots of rejection, lack of identity etc. but we can’t go into depth about that in this teaching.
Roots of woundedness created distorted perceptions.
These roots come out of rebellion which causes us to move against God’s Word and any form of sound guidance.
We must be careful though, as woundedness can cause distortions in our mind which cause us to ‘see’ a thing a certain way as, ‘someone telling me what to do…’ even if it isn’t that way at all.
If ever anyone counsels someone in a manner where they are being told what to do, that is not godly counsel.
Healthy counsel always guides; nothing more
Healthy godly counsel will be the ‘river banks’, not the river! (I know, I use the word “healthy” a lot, for good reason.) Godly counsel will guide and lead a person to make informed decisions with scriptural guidance and with healthy options if they are teachable to receive.
Keep in mind when we are not teachable it often has to do with lack of trust and not wanting to be vulnerable and it’s all fear based including control.
But we overcome through healing in the name of Jesus, not using old defence mechanisms to ‘protect’ and ‘cope’ with distorted perceptions.
John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
So Scripture teaches us that it was for freedom that Christ has set us free no longer to be subject to a yoke of slavery! Therefore let’s walk in that freedom through our yieldedness to the One who sets us free.
3.) How should we behave as believers?
God gives us the answer in Scripture, in John 13:34, which is to love one another. People make the mistake of not understanding the different aspects of love.We recognize as human beings that we WILL make mistakes and that we are called to forgive one another in God’s love and move forward when this happens.
But love also includes discipline & correction (Heb 12).
Something important to note: While the correction part is always usually far and few between (being around 5% of the time), the woundedness in some people causes them to amplify the negative aspect more than all the positive aspects of love (the 95%), that has gone before them.
As an example, correction is administered if a person puts other members of a church at risk through any behaviour that might affect others in the church who come to what they understand is a safe space. This includes any leaders in the mix.
We can’t have double standards for leaders – we must give the right message to the flock.
Those that know me know that I teach this as a Lead Apostle all the time that Scripture teaches us that the standards are higher for leaders in 1 Tim 3 & Tit 1.
So if and when we fall as leaders and correction is necessary swift action must be taken in love to minimize damage to the people of God, so that the church is not brought to a place of confusion due to ‘double standards’ or lack thereof.
If people in the church see leaders whose behaviour is not integrous or morally upright in what Scripture teaches our behaviour should be as leaders or Ministers, not in perfection but in purity, and nothing is done about it, and if such leaders they are left to do what they like, what message are we giving people in the church?
People need to see that their leaders are integrous (marked by integrity, honesty, of good moral character and conscience), kind & loving and will protect them against such behaviour even when it comes to other Ministers. Any minister with the right heart will always make right and acknowledge whatever wrong they’ve done, (referring to serious stuff that affects the church), and all will be fine & forgiven if that can be seen in actions too.
Fivefold Ministers are called to protect God’s flock in covenant.
Fivefold Ministers are to protect the sheep at all costs against such things.
This is what the Word of God teaches us. Even in John’s gospel, we see that Jesus laid down his life for the sheep!
Acts 20:28-30: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseer. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. _ I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
Our covenant commitment as Ministers that we made before God and the church at ordination was to take care of God’s House and those in it.
When Jesus addressed Peter in John 21:15-17 He spoke about how we are to love the flock: “Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”.
This was clearly important to the LORD.
Do we love the LORD Jesus enough as Ministers to do the right thing, even when it requires that we are betrayed, stabbed, pulled down & accused?
YES, it does!…
There is a price for being a Minister: it requires us to stand for the truth always, to be loving always, to forgive easily, and to see in those God has given us to care for, what God sees in them.
But behaviour that affects the church and its people, does need correction, counsel & or deliverance. The reason: simply because it’s the right thing to do according to Scripture, and we are to care for the flock and protect people against such behaviour.
This behaviour can include anything from emotional manipulation (which often stems from a Jezebelic spirit), or gossip which is usually distorted to begin with, or any and falsehood that causes division or anything that affects the Church and impacts it enough for it to be addressed (Rom 16:17).
Most seasoned leaders are fully aware of all the symptoms of troublemakers, we usually can see these things long before they manifest to harm anyone, but at this stage we are immersed in prayer for that person, praying that their behaviour will change that they will totally surrender their fears and struggles to the LORD and receive healing.
However, as mentioned there is very little one can do with those that refuse to hear or heal in the way of helping a person. putting the “proverbial cushion” under someones “blessed assurance” is not the answer and this only perpetuates a more deeply ingrained cycle and circle of the same behaviour for all who will listen and pay attention to attention seekers!
If a person participating in this kind of behaviour refuses to change, or make right or acknowledge their wrongdoing and they continue to hurt people in the church creating disruption and division in the church, the leader has no option but to address it and if the person does not want to make right and continues to do harm to others, only then, will they will be asked to find a church that they believe suits their ‘needs’ better. Or, they leave on their own.
This is the worst case scenario and every Minister always hopes and prays it will never come to this. But people have their own decisions to make.
It’s not ‘gross sin’ as much as it is disobeying God’s Word and instruction, that hurts the church, and can take us away from our destiny.
Most sin is not gross sin in the church; its simply people not obeying God and follow in God’s will, that’s usually what gets people into trouble or a mess in their lives more than anything else.
Once a leader has done all they can to assist someone and they continue to disrespect God’s House the church and or its leaders and continue to do what they are doing refusing to hear, then there is nothing further a leader can do but to leave them in the hands of the LORD.
The first option any leader desires and wants, is for the person to make right to repent and go on in the body of Christ learning from it and growing in God’s love and the church. There must always be instant forgiveness in these cases.
I don’t know any Pastor that wants to see anyone leave church.
This is a very rare occurrence and the worst case scenario for any leader to have to deal with.
When such a person refuses to make right and leaves they usually become bitter and that’s when the real trouble starts.
The pattern is usually that they will try to make contact with those they think will become their ‘allies’ against the church to put people against the House of God that they have left. (This includes pursuing those that have left the church or those in the church that they feel will buy into their story.)
They will spew lies and play the wounded victim, and usually know exactly how to manipulate to draw attention.
People that buy into this, try to be martyrs, often in sincerity, but most often don’t have the truth and they usually think they have a right to know everything that has gone down, when it is none of their business.
Most seasoned 5 Fold leaders have seen this time and time again. But not all leaders do the right thing, and leaving a person in the midst of the church that has caused severe trouble with congregants or leaders, will hurt others and bring further division and discredit to God’s house causing others to leave. It’s a mess!
We see this happening often in general with churches where sometimes almost half the church can leave when these cowardly accusations are broadcast to all who have ears to hear.
Meanwhile, you will most often note that Pastor or leader is mostly silent apart from other clergy or Church Board members that they feel need to be advised of the situation.
When we follow scripture and know that we are responding in love to our commitment as Fivefold leaders to honour God’s House and family, it might mean some stabs in the back and accusation but we have made an oath before God to take care of the flock.
If we don’t do what is right in these rare cases, as Ministers we are no different to the money changers in the time of Jesus. God’s house and people must always be honoured this includes dealing with divisive people and sanctifying God’s house.
If on the other hand you have as a leader been hurt by other leaders perhaps in other churches, be careful that your woundedness doesn’t cause you to compromise the Word of God regarding taking biblical action when appropriate.
This measure of discipline or correction is so rare and an absolute worst case scenario as I’ve mentioned, but it is very important for us to understand the effects and impact of a rebellious wounded person on the loose! (Ultimately, this impacts them more than anyone else in the long term.)
1 Tim 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
Heb 13:7 “Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all.”(MSG)
Heb 13:17 “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” (NLT).
4) How should Leaders & Ministers deal with those that cause division or trouble in the church?
Scripture gives us guidelines for the church to help leaders follow the principles that Jesus taught:
Jesus refused to put up with the dishonouring and disrespect seen in the House of God with the money changers in Scripture. That didn’t mean he didn’t love people but it did mean that he loved God enough to not put up with corruption and defilement in the Church.
Scripture gives clear guidelines to Ministers:
2 Tim 2:23-26
“23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.
26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.”
Pastors and leaders are called to confidentiality and often when gossip on whichever platform strikes, they are not at liberty to justify their position most of the time, but they have discretion if someone is causing strife as to what they make public or not to protect the greater Church. (This is Scriptural 1 Tim. 5:20).
This is why I teach my leaders “Know your leaders and overseers!” They are there to help you.
Leaders are not called to entertain those “throwing their toys out of their proverbial cots”, or that cause trouble in the church.
Any healthy leader will always listen to those that want to engage in respectful dialogue and truly want to grow spiritually.
But we are not to entertain those looking for an audience or who are using manipulative destructive and unhealthy tactics to get attention or get their own way. As Ministers, spend time on those who really want help and want to become more Christlike and who want to change and grow.
Arrogance has no place in the House of God.
When people carry a spirit of entitlement, unfortunately, they are not open to hear or see or be teachable. I won’t engage with people that approach in a manner that is argumentative disrespectful or divisive. Usually, if their tactic outside the church to get their own way has worked, and it is not entertained inside God’s House, they start letting their mouths off. That’s when the ‘fun’ starts.
“Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behaviour.” 2 Timothy 2:16 (NLT)
Leaders are called to speak the truth in love, love being the operative word. That does not mean that you become a ‘punchbag’ for anyone. If you cannot reason with someone and they become abusive you can’t continue to help them under those conditions.
We must realize that in any church where Holy Spirit is activated and moving in the supernatural realm of God’s Glory, there WILL be spiritual warfare.
This includes accusation against leaders or others that are growing in the church.
The enemy will use anyone that acts out in rebellion to attempt to break down the credibility of longstanding leaders. Credibility has history, it has longevity it has ‘earned’ its name because of this. So it is not easily broken down. But it can plant a seed of confusion which the enemy uses in our minds at an ‘opportune time’.
But those that have eyes to see and ears to hear will always see the truth. God is still greater in you than anything the enemy throws at you (1 Jn 4:4) so stand firm.
When believers have good fruit, they will confront any issues or struggles they have directly with the person /leader; or people they are taking issue with. Social Media will not be their platform.
You will not see healthy leaders engaging in posts or platforms with those who speak with a ‘forked tongue’, that little ‘rudder’ that the book of James speaks about that has the capacity to do so much damage.
The very same thing that we use to bless the LORD of Glory, is used to curse those in the church and the overseers that God has put in place.
Mature Christians can discern the difference and they know not get caught up in something they have no real context of and they trust leaders that have stood the test of time. Leaders that are always willing and open to change and critique.
I have found over the years that usually the most troubled of people are the ones that ‘shout’ the loudest on such platforms to get attention and spread their lies nonsense and vermin, usually always distorting the truth or speaking half truths. It’s very irritating but one can’t do anything about them. They really end up making fools of themselves.
Social media or gossip is always one-sided and therefore is a very cowardly way of doing things, and invariably it doesn’t say much about the person that rambles on or distorts facts. It’s very similar to gossiping.
When a Christian uses their mouth to bring an accusation against those who try to help them or anyone for that matter, what they end up doing is being used by the enemy, not by God, and a spirit of accusation accompanies them.
The best way to assess someone is to check their fruit. Look at their life, their integrity, credibility and their track record in the different spheres of their life especially spiritually. That will always help.
Usually, I find those who hate any kind of authority and refuse to take instruction when it concerns the body of Christ, are those with a desperate need for healing. They usually make the loudest noise but they are empty vessels. they are usually the most reluctant to recognize their need for healing. But we are always hopeful.
Usually, they are the ones that blame everything that happens to them on everyone else. They are never willing to acknowledge their need for healing or decision making. They will blame their leaders and anyone and everyone else for where they are, continually distorting truth simply because they actually see things that way because of their woundedness or lack of taking responsibility. they have to justify what they are doing somehow. (One must be careful as slandering on Social media or publicly is a serious offence and can border defamation laws in our country.)
I can’t teach on this enough, if we’ve had negative or abusive role models in our lives authority from anywhere regardless of how healthy it is, or biblical, will cause rebellion unless healing takes place.
Titus 3:10 “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.”
These are pretty harsh words. Most Ministers will have done all is possibly human and in Spirit to help a person before embarking on Titus 3 which is only in exceptional cases.
In almost 3 decades of ministry, I’ve only needed to do this a handful of times. Each of those times was heart wrenching.
Most of those times it was with people I loved deeply, had invested in and built relationships with. Others left on their own accord because they chose not to make right with those they had hurt.
Let us follow the Word and God given advice on how we are to behave and be mindful of what we say about people in every sphere, whether it be family, friends or leaders in the church.
We are called as leaders to carry out the word of God and in everything we do, our motives and heart must be pure, loving and sincere, always desiring the heart of God to be in everything we do and say, even in these very difficult situations of conflict.
5) Follow scriptural guidelines of reconciliation
Scripture gives us most tools we need for Conflict Resolution:
Here are some steps to take according to Matt 18 in dealing with disputes
1. Go to the person who you believe has wronged you and own your own feelings/emotions, and in love share your heart.
2. Have a conversation with them so that they are able to have the opportunity to explain their side or any misunderstanding.
3. Give them the benefit of the doubt and be honest and prayerful with yourself before approaching. But don’t wait too long.
4. Try not to leave without proper reconciliation in forgiveness and repentance as God has given us a ministry of reconciliation through Christ.
5. Follow the process by reading and noting the Scriptural references we find are right here for us to use as our model as Believers.
2 Cor. 5:18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to through Gods-self to Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Matt. 18:15-17 Jesus said: “If your brother or sister, sins against you, go and show them their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
17 If they refuse to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matt. 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Apostle Deborah Bell
Lead Apostle, DGFC & DGAN Apostolic Network