One day our kids will “Google” us.
It hasn’t happened yet for me, but I know it will soon. I’ve already been Facebook “stalked,” Instagram-investigated and iPhone-snooped by my 13-year-old.
It’s only a matter of time before she puts my name into Google to see what pops up. What will she find?
Will she find the same person who she knows as “mom” – the person who has nurtured her and instructed her, disciplined her and discipled her, laughed with her and corrected her? Or will she find something that confuses her?
Will she find consistency between what I tell her and what I tell others? Will my words in the online world match my words in our conversations at home and with her?
For instance, I tell her to love God and love others. Will that be evident in my online profile? I tell her to be kind and to consider others more highly than herself. Will my words reflect that type of heart?
I tell her to always seek to do good, to defend the poor, to love the hurting, to stand up for the weak, to befriend the friendless.
I tell her that calling people names, making fun of others, criticism and ridicule, treating people as “other” and showing people disrespect are all, for lack of a better term, the actions of a bully and not how we are to live or act in this world.
I tell her that God loves her, has a plan for her, has a plan for us and for this whole world. That he is God – good, sovereign and our hope.
And I have to consider, “When she ‘Googles’ me one day, will she find that my social media self, my written words, are consistent with these things I am teaching her as truth, as right, as good?”
We are coming up on some very difficult weeks in this country.
Before us lies an election like no other we have ever seen. Passion in so many areas runs deep and runs wide. And words, often written on various social media platforms, are where those passions are often loosed and proclaimed.
May I humbly encourage us, all of us, no matter where our passions lie, to intentionally consider before we post, that one day our children will “Google” our name.
We should ponder, “Is what I am about to post online in line with what I am teaching my children about loving God and loving others?”
We should pause and wonder, “Am I using this post to build up or to tear down? To call people names, make fun of them in any way, ridicule or poke fun, or belittle them as a person?”
We should think, “If my child said this to another child, would that be OK or would they be in trouble?”
One day, our children will “Google” us. Let’s make sure that what they find shows them a faith that doesn’t waver with elections or compromise in fear.
Let’s strive to post our passions in a way that honors the fact that each person who reads them is made in the image of God, is loved and beloved of God, and is worthy of respect because of that simple fact.
We owe it to our children to give them a consistent message of who God is and who we are no matter when or where they hear or see our words.
The Message translation of Philippians 4:8-9 offers excellent guidance: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me (Paul), what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Christina Embree is director of children and family ministries at Nicholasville United Methodist Church near Lexington, Kentucky. A version of this article first appeared on her website, Refocus Ministry, and is used with permission. You can follow her on Twitter @EmbreeChristina.