Most of us who use Twitter would like to think of our tweets as resembling eagles—majestic, timeless, strong.

In reality, we probably sound more like ravens—noisy, incessant, perhaps annoying.

(If you’ve lived in Southern California, particularly Lancaster, for any length of time, you’ve had plenty of opportunities to observe the common raven. Ravens are rated as the most intelligent birds, but they have a knack for making themselves obnoxious as well.)

Eagle or raven (or mocking bird, hawk, or vulture), spiritual leaders who use Twitter should be intentional about how this tool relates to their leadership.

I’ve been using Twitter for about five years now, and I’ve gone through multiple love/hate phases with it. Currently, I enjoy using it to receive updates and interact with friends around the country who are in ministry. But I’ve recently read a couple of disparaging articles regarding Twitter—both which made me pause and consider anew the effect Twitter has in spiritual leadership.

From a bird’s eye view, here are a few thoughts on Twitter and leadership:

1. Recognize the amplifying power of social media.

Written communication always carries more weight than spoken communication. And once that weight is attached to the wings of social media, it easily spreads far and wide.

If you let a snide remark out in personal conversation, that’s too bad. But if you post it to Twitter, that’s like saying it over a worldwide PA system.

Twitter doesn’t change who you are, but it does have the potential to magnify it.

2. Don’t take Twitter too seriously.

A recent study showed that only 16 percent of internet users tweet. Understand that not everyone you serve in ministry is on Twitter, and most of them are not wowed by the wisdom you pour into your tweets.

Don’t allow social media to distract you from the real work of ministry—serving people.

3. Retain your focus.

A common frustration to those who do not use social media is the observable loss of attention span among those involved in today’s media.

Do you allow a Twitter update to interrupt a conversation with your wife? Does your sermon study time get eaten up by incessant scanning of your social media accounts? Do you find yourself thinking more about what you will tweet about a ministry event than the event itself?

Refuse to surrender your attention span or your focus. You need both in leadership.

4. Understand you are what you tweet.

I remember when I became a parent, and I remember the awesome weight of responsibility that came with it. There was no checking out, no days off. No matter where I go or what I do, I’m a dad. And I recognize that my actions have a direct effect on my children.

The same is true of pastors and other spiritual leaders. You don’t check out of spiritual shepherding. Yes, you can enjoy a day off with your spouse. But you’re still a pastor.

And everywhere you go (including Facebook) and everything you say (including tweets) is representative of who you are. Don’t see Twitter as a place to check out of leadership.

5. Remember your testimony, but forget your image.

One of the pitfalls of social media is an increased focus on personal image.

Focus on lifting up Jesus and serving people, not inflating your image. Be fully engaged in ministry—not with what people think about you in ministry.

All five of these tips are covered in one Scripture verse:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

I know it’s more than 140 characters, but the truths of this verse should be the guide by which spiritual leaders compose tweets.

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