“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23
The words of Solomon in Proverbs 4:23 are such a powerful statement to all of us as believers. He told us to “guard your heart above all else.” I believe that this advice is not only for us as individuals but I have also always believed that as a parent it was my job to protect the hearts of my children until they were of age.
I also believe these days of the internet and social media that the job of protecting our children’s hearts has never been harder. What do we need to do to protect our children’s heart in this age of technology? One of the areas that our kids need help and accountability with is that of social media. Social media has created a secret world in which our children will leave a digital footprint that could follow them the rest of their life.
Social media allows our children to create connections and interactions that are not altogether healthy. One thing that is evident about social media is that people are more likely to say things online that they would never say in person. For example, one late night show host has a regular segment entitled “Mean Tweets” in which being mean to others in a Tweet is celebrated. Not a great model for our kids.
Also, students do not often realize the consequences of what they are posting in what they believe is their own private world. This spring, 10 students who were previously accepted to Harvard University had their acceptances rescinded because of their online social media behavior. Colleges are indeed looking at students’ social media footprints and most students do not realize it.
In addition, the idea of being secret and not accountable has also exploded inside the social media app called Snapchat. This is the app where teenagers know that their content is not available for all their “Friends” or “Followers” to see. You choose who you send messages to, and once it’s viewed, it’s gone forever… Or at least, it’s supposed to be. However, it is all able to be recovered as some teens have found out the hard way.
The Pew Research group has found Snapchat to be a primary venue for sexting and cyberbullying amongst teenagers. Parents need to understand that kids enjoy Snapchat, because “it is one of the only apps that is relatively private.” Even parents who do have access to their children’s Snapchat are unlikely to see the messages sent and received through the app.
So, how do we guard their hearts in these areas of social media?
Make sure that your student is old enough and mature enough to handle a social media presence.
Make sure as a parent that you have access to all their accounts and can see all that they post and who posts to them.
Finally, do not allow them to have apps such as Snapchat where they can be involved in things you cannot see.
Josh McDowell once stated that: “I would rather put a fence at the top of a hill than an ambulance at the bottom.” I pray that we would all put some barriers up in the areas of social media to guard the hearts of our children.
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” Philippians 1:9-10
We live in the most digitally connected culture of all time. We have access to more information and knowledge than at any other time in history. However, I am afraid that we spend more time with technology screens than with anyone else. Research tells us that the average American spends anywhere from 7 to 10 hours a day in front of a screen of some sort.
It seems as if there is no place in our lives that is void of a technological device. Our culture spends more time engaging with technology, social media, and entertainment than with each other.
In Philippians 1:9-10, Paul is admonishing us to grow “in knowledge and understanding” so that we will understand what matters. We all need to stop and ask ourselves what is most important to us. Is it all that important that we keep up with the latest on what is happening on social media or engage our children in conversation at dinner? Do we spend more time on Facebook and Twitter than we do in God’s Word?
Paul says above that the goal is “to understand what really matters, so that you can live pure and blameless lives.” I believe that most Christians desire to have this kind of life for themselves and their children. So, how do we go about putting some controls back in our lives in this technological age so that we can accomplish this goal?
To begin with, we must establish some hard and fast priorities for our families that cannot be compromised. Below are some examples of these type priorities:
Set aside time with your family each day to discuss the things of God - If we are going to grow in understanding, we must spend time in God’s Word each day ourselves and spend time discussing it with our children.
Set the priority that Sunday is the day you go to church - “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1 There is no better way to disconnect from this world and grow together in knowledge and understanding than to go to church as a family. Are you glad when it is church time or have we given the priority of that day away to things that really do not matter?
Set aside times and places where we do not use devices - A great way to focus on what matters and build relationships within the family is to have time and places where you put away devices. The dinner table is a great place to start as it is time where we can engage our families and has been shown by research to be an effective way to build a healthy family. Another great place to forbid devices is in the bedrooms of our houses. Children do not need unfettered access to the internet in an unprotected area. Another great place to forbid devices is in the car as you can have great conversations on the way to places with a captive audience.
God desires to enrich our lives with the things that matter! I pray that the truth of Philippians 1:9-10 will remind us to seek those things and not what this world offers!
“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6
Nowadays, when a person is referred to as “salty”, it is not a good thing. Salty is an adjective used today to describe someone when they are angry or agitated. We experience a lot of folks who are somewhat “salty” in person, in emails, and on social media. In fact, many times we ourselves can become “salty” with others in those previously mentioned venues.
I do not know about you but when I get this way with others I am quickly reminded by the Spirit of God that this is not the way He would prefer for me to treat others. However, I do believe that God desires that we be “salty” with others but not the way the world defines the term.
God wants us instead to follow the truth of Colossians 4:6 above and “let our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” Why does Paul say that our speech needs to be seasoned with salt? What does salt do?
Salt has been used in the past for seasoning, a preservative, and a disinfectant. These three uses can have a tremendous impact on others if used in a Christ like manner with others through our speech. Let me provide an example of each.
As a seasoning in our speech - Do we use our words to bring the nature and heart of God to others? Jesus commanded us in Matthew to “be salt and light.” We should be adding a divine flavor to our conversations. We should reflect the character of Christ in our conversations whether it be in person, email, or social media. Do we create a thirst for Christ in others with the way we communicate?
As a preservative in our speech - Salt was used in times past to preserve foods like meat to prevent decay. Are we using our speech and our written words to help stop the moral decay around us? Our culture is in trouble and we desperately need believers who will use their words to positively impact people for the Kingdom.
As a disinfectant in our speech - Are we using our words to help clean up areas of conflict with others? What would happen if we would use our words to help bring healing and reconciliation to others? Think of the situations and relationships that God could use us to help clean up if we could follow the truth of Colossians 4:6.
We live in a time where we need Christians who know how “to answer every man” as God would have us. Can you imagine how God could use us as a school family if we would make the commitment for our speech to be “always with grace, seasoned with salt?” My prayer is that we all might begin today to impact others by being a Biblically “Salty” Christian!