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Please don't tweet this

Caryn Rivadeneira

At the third bullet point of his opening session at the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels prepped us. If we hadn’t yet taken a note, he said, this would be what we should write down. Get our pens ready; we were going to want to remember this.

So the attendees around me readied their pens, held their notebooks tight and prepared to copy down his every word. Though I had already taken two pages of sloppy notes, I kept my pen down and refused to look at my notebook.

While I’m sure whatever he said (which I don’t remember since I didn’t write it down) was something worth noting, I have a long-standing tradition of not writing down what I’m told. When someone else tries to tell me what I should take away from their words, I dig in like a mule.

So naturally, I’m not too excited about the recent uptick in “Click to Tweet” or “Tweet This” buttons, which can be placed after pithy or funny or poignant quotes in blog posts. They actually cause me to stop reading in my tracks and often click away. Even on some of my favorite writers’ sites.

I’ll admit these buttons, which make it easy for readers to share Tweeterific quotes, is marketing genius. I get why writers want to use this tweety tool. However, as a reader, as a free thinker and even as a Christian, I must urge us all to put down our pens at the command to take note and never, ever click to tweet.

If we depend on human cues, we might miss the Spiritual ones.

Not because of some lurking malware or because the NSA tracks these (though both might be true). Instead, because of something much more insidious that lurks beneath the command: the murking of our minds that happens any time someone tells us what is most important, most share-worthy or most inspiring about what we are reading or hearing. Unless it’s going to be on a test or unless your job depends on it, no one should tell readers or listeners what we should take away.

Especially for Christians. When we allow others to dictate what’s most noteworthy or tweetable, we cut off the Voice we ought to be listening for: that wondrous, mysterious whisper or boom of the Holy Spirit, who speaks to us through what we read or what we hear. The Holy Spirit doesn’t seem bound to bullet points or 140 characters to get to us, so neither should we be. The Holy Spirit can whisper or pound into the most rambling or most random. We never know what might spark that inspiration from God Himself. If we depend on human cues, we might miss the Spiritual ones.

Later in the day at the Leadership Summit, as he wrapped up his talk, North Coast Church’s Chris Brown cited Romans 12:2 in encouraging Spirit-led leadership: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

It seems to me this also applies to how we read, how we listen and what we deem important in all of it, for the reasons that the following verse gives us: “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It’s awfully hard to do this - to test and approve God’s will for what inspires or informs or invigorates or intrigues us - if we only note or tweet or heed what others deem essential. We might just miss out on what’s essential to God.

Topics: Online, Culture At Large, Science & Technology