Christian Leadership in a Tweeting World

I have read that as many as one billion tweets are sent every 2-3 days. That’s amazing, especially for an application that began less than a decade ago.

I, too, use Twitter (@clawlessjr), but sometimes I’m surprised by what seemingly insignificant information others share. “Got up early this morning.” “On my way to the store to buy bread.” “Reading a book.” “Working out.” “Raking the leaves.” “To the office – many meetings today.” “Tired this morning.” “Can’t sleep.” On and on the text messages go. To be honest, I’m just waiting for someone to let me know when he is having a bowel movement – and that kind of sharing becomes the norm. Nothing, it seems, is private in a twittering world.

But, maybe that’s not all bad.

Sure, some privacy is important. The physical joys of marriage are meant to be enjoyed privately. Not every confession of sin should be spoken so publicly that additional problems are created. Some prayer needs are so deeply felt that sharing them with more than a few people is emotionally draining. Ministry often requires us to hold information responsibly, being careful not to make publicly known what is shared privately.

On the other hand, too much privacy sometimes results in tragedy. You know the story—a follower of Jesus falls into sin, hides it, and soon finds himself/herself entangled in a sinful mess. This course of sin should not surprise us, as it began with Adam and Eve and has continued since then. Having wrongly chosen to eat from the forbidden fruit, the first human beings hid themselves (Gen. 3:8). Indeed, they were so deceived that they thought they could hide “from the presence of the Lord God”—as if that were even possible! The enemy so ensnares us in his web of deceit that we somehow believe that God Himself does not know what we do in private.

Having studied spiritual warfare and the enemy’s strategies for many years, I have watched far too many men and women mess up in their spiritual walk. What I have never seen, though, are believers who just “wake up” on the other side of sin, as if they unexpectedly and unconsciously find themselves there. Instead, what I have seen is the believer who makes one wrong choice that leads to another wrong choice … that leads to even more wrong choices … and eventually to a fall. Almost always, secrecy marks the downward process somewhere:

  • pretending I am faithful in my practice of spiritual disciplines
  • viewing Internet pornography when nobody else is around
  • counseling alone a member of the opposite gender
  • finding it easier and easier to lie to my spouse about anything
  • hiding text and email messages so no one reads my communication with that particular person
  • meeting alone to have lunch with that person who is attractive to me
  • finding excuses to avoid planned accountability meetings

Moral failure almost always involves our covering up secrets, even while convincing ourselves that our actions are acceptable. The result is ultimately spiritual disaster. And—lest we find ourselves arrogantly inattentive to the warning signals—only fools think they immune to the possibility of falling.

How do we remain faithful when a very real, supernatural enemy seeks to lure us into the darkness?

Here is one step in the process: make sure that somebody who loves us ALWAYS knows where we are and what we’re doing.

If we are never in a place, never in a situation, and never with a person that demands our hiding, the likelihood of our falling decreases significantly.

Sound complicated? Perhaps, but I don’t think so. Call your spouse or email him/her when you get to work. Get in touch with him/her when you go to lunch and when you return to work. Let him/her know when you head home. If you are running an errand and get detoured, let your spouse know. Frankly, you might even find that talking more with your spouse is good for your marriage.

Or, if you are not married, find someone of the same gender to carry out this accountability role for you. The cost of falling is simply too big of a price to pay for any of us to give ourselves permission to live secret lives.

In fact, I probably need to rethink my opinion about Twitter. If using Twitter makes it more difficult to hide, it’s likely a smart move for Christian leaders to start sending tweets about everything we do.


  • Tom Estes says:

    This is an excellent reminder, Dr. Lawless. It seems to me that one of the key mistakes a person makes before falling into sin is that they start lying to themselves. This is why we must remember that our hearts simply cannot be trust in matters of purity, because it will always lie to us. Jeremiah 17:9

    It’s an interesting connection you make with Twitter that I’d never thought of before. Like you, all of the mundane tweets about what they had for breakfast or what their cat is doing seem like a waste of time, but if they can be used, even in a small way, to keep us out of trouble, I’d say it’s time well spent.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Raymond Johns says:

    as always you are right on the money . Thanks for keeping it real for those of us in leadership no matter how long we have been in leadership or how old we are. The enemy does not care and does not let up! Blessings.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      You’re on target, Raymond. No matter how long we’ve been in leadership, we’re not immune from the enemy’s attacks.

  • Great article – using Twitter as sort of a crowd-sourced accountability.

    I was going to mention something about the difference between self-disclosure and self-promotion, but then I realized, if one’s tweets are little more than self-promotion, then that too is a form of self-disclosure. But who will be courageous and loving enough to correct us for the sin of pride in a world where everyone is expected to blow one’s own trumpet?

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Good thoughts, Aaron. Tweeting does at times promote self, and all of us need reminders that we’re susceptible to pride.

  • Jeff says:

    Seeing ministry for 42 years and struggling in it, too, early attacks by the enemy are usually acknowledged before given in to. Leaders of all levels busy themselves with their work. This makes growing followers lost in the shuffle. Guilt and fear of rejection of the leaders drive many “underground” until they realize they’ve buried themselves. Too late – quit. The lady in adultery alone with her accusers stayed with Jesus long enough to be told she is forgiven, while they left with their hidden religion. The scared disciples in the snare were visited after the resurrection by Jesus. Personal responsibility is key, but bearing one anothers burdens or confronting in love to restore them is better than loosing to the one seeking to devour. A Good Samaritan! Paul had the spiritual guts to challenge Peter in Acts 15. Christ like – obey the Father and be used to restore others fallen when it even means getting bloody, dirty, used, unpopular, and/or killed.

  • Billy says:

    Thanks for sharing. Great reminder and excellent talking points. As for the “bowel movement tweet”, I’m sure Dr. Rainer would be willing to keep you informed in that regard.

  • Darren says:

    Thank you for sharing…a good reminder. Perhaps Twitter good tweet a daily recap of all the web activities of that user for the day. 😉

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