Connected, but Lonely.

10 Reasons Why Followers are Replacing Real Relationships

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Selfie, My Facebook, Selfie, My Twitter Feed, Selfie, My Instagram, My Personal Brand.

We are a generation wired for self-promotion and self- love. A generation that believes being rich and famous will bring them true happiness.[1]  5000 friends, 200K followers and a You Tube Channel will raise my “social equity” and will validate my reason for being. I want to be adored, admired. I must be liked. I need more followers. Who needs friends, when I can have fans of my own?

We explore 10 Reasons Why Followers are Replacing Real Relationships:

1.       Followers put me first before anyone else.

2.      Followers are always on my side.

3.      Followers want to be like me.

4.      Followers see what I want them to see.

5.      Followers take me at my word.

6.      Followers understand I am always right.

7.       Followers always feel the way I feel, their emotions follow my own.

8.      Followers care for me and understand that I am always the victim.    

9.      Followers know that I am strong and can do everything on my own.

10.     Followers tell me what I want to hear.

If you want to feel good for only moments at a time, I highly recommend you live by the list above. Every single one of those will bring you a temporary high and allow you to hide your true identity. You will appear to be successful in the world and you will live daily with your hidden failures and mistakes. You will be part of a generation defined by these statements: What’s In It For Me? I Deserve This. Whatever Makes Me Happy.

With all this self-love, then how do we describe the deep depression that effects our generation as well? It is because every disappointment in your life will come from your expectations. An entitled world provides the highest form of expectations from which we fall. [2] The American Psychological Society says that narcissism is on the rise, but as self-esteem rises, we also see that depression rates are soaring. That’s because narcissists — people with an inflated sense of their importance and abilities — have trouble keeping friends, even though they are good at making them.[3] “A narcissistic society would be a deeply lonely place and that is exactly where America is heading. [4] A society with followers but no friends.

The Good News

The good news is that this type of behavior is not just our generation. It has been in the hearts of men since the beginning of time (See James 3: 13-17,  4:1-6) . Our technology is catering to our deepest sinful desires. There is an answer for this. In Mark 10: 31 -45, even Jesus’s disciples asked to be at his side, so they themselves could be glorified. So what was Christ’s response?

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[5]

You see Christ calls us to a live contrary to what this world would dictate. Why?

He is trying to Give You Life.

When we live by putting God and others first, we live in a world where people are looking out for the interest of others.[6] They love others the way they are loved by Christ.

When you get tired of the followers who let you self-destruct, be honest with yourself and say, what I really desire is to be loved. You see we were made to be followers of Christ, to glorify Him. We were not called to be the center of glory. You were not made to have followers. We must learn to live by this truth: He must become greater; I must become less.[7]

 In Proverbs 18:24, we see that, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”.   God understood your need to be known in this way before you did. God created us for authentic biblical community and to be connected to a body of believers. As you begin to live authentically with God’s people, you will experience Encouragement (Hebrews 3:13), Acceptance (Romans 15:7), Accountability (Proverbs 18:1), and Care (1 Corinthians 12:25) in such a way, that you will find freedom in Christ as you are fully known and fully loved. If you want to be known, to be loved, to be truly understood, you need to stop looking for followers and start looking for true friends. So let’s take a look at our list again through the lens of God’s word:

1.       Followers put me first before anyone else.

In biblical community, you will learn that when others are focused on God first, they will be able to love you more fully.  Jesus had every gift, talent and ability to make Him the most famous and wealthiest man who ever lived. But there was only one goal which He considered worthy of His talents—the glory of the Father.[8] As you are loved and spurred on, you will find freedom in serving your father and understand that He is the only one that can fill that void, seeking that love here on earth from followers who adore you will never fill this. See Deuteronomy 6:5, 1 Peter 2:21, Mark 8:35

2.       Followers are always on my side.

It can be wonderful to have someone always agreeing with you but, when you make decisions that will ultimately bring you harm, you will begin to wish that someone would have warned you about the consequences of your decision. Proverbs 13:20 gives us a clear warning, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm”.

3.       Followers want to be like me.

All of us have a deep desire for love and acceptance. When we surround ourselves with people who mimic us, that can be a cheap knockoff to real acceptance from others.  True acceptance means you are valuable just as you are. It allows you to be the real you. In Romans 15:7, we can see what true acceptance looks like, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

4.       Followers see what I want them to see.

When you do not allow yourself to be fully known, you rob yourself of being really loved for who you are. When we give others permission to look at all facets of our life, it allows them to truly care and encourage us. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”.

5.       Followers take me at my word.

When you surround yourself with people who always agree with you, they don’t love you. Proverbs 27: 5 tells us, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love”.  It can be very deceiving to believe that people, who take you at your word, trust and care for you.  God’s word is the only truth and the only word that should be taken. Surround yourself with people who understand how to practice discernment (Colossians 2:8). Anyone who sees himself as true wisdom, is contrary to the truth of God’s word.

6.       Followers tell me what I want to hear.

This comes next on the list, as a complement to number 5. A follower not only takes you at your word, but tells you exactly what you want to hear. Let’s take a look at the next verse, Proverbs 27: 6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses”.  When someone will love you enough to speak into your foolishness and will weather your pride and sinfulness, this is true love and care. (Proverbs 17:17).

7.       Followers understand I am always right.

When you isolate yourself to a point where you believe that you are always right, you will push others away and find yourself continually facing the consequences of your own pride.  Proverbs 18:1 tells us that “He who separates himself seeks his own desire. He quarrels against all sound wisdom”.  Pride always comes before destruction.[9]Surround yourself with others who want to bring you out of your self-destructive arrogance.

8.       Followers always feel the way I feel, their emotions follow my own.

Feelings are not a reliable source of truth. Hebrews 4:12 tells us "For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart." This scripture illustrates that we can never be led by the Holy Spirit, until we allow ourselves to be led by God's Word.[10] Surround yourself with people who are able to tell you that your emotional reaction may not be founded in truth.

9.       Followers care for me and understand that I am always the victim when something bad happens.

Villianizing others in all of your conflicts, devoids you from personal responsibility. Conflict is inevitable when developing deep relationships. If you don’t have conflict, you will never have a deep relationship based on loyalty and commitment to find the fault on both sides and work through our sinful nature. The Bible challenges us to see conflict as an opportunity to:

    i. Glorify God

   ii. Serve others

  iii. Grow to be like Christ[11]

10.   Followers know that I am strong and can do everything on my own. If I love Jesus, I don’t need another person speaking into me.

When you do everything on your own and fail to reach out to others, you become victim to your own limited perspective. Believing you don’t need others, robs you of encouragement and wisdom. Proverbs 12:15 tells us that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel”. Having others help you, does not make you weak. In 1 Corinthians 12:20-25, we can see that God has gifted each of us uniquely, so that we can strengthen each other as a body. You were made for community. You don’t need to do it on your own, in humility allow yourself to be loved and sharpened by others. (Proverbs 27:17)

 

Dear Friend, Our lives have been blessed when we allowed ourselves to be fully known. Although sharing the broken parts of yourself can be very scary, it is the only way that you will build authentic relationships with others. When you are fully known and loved, you can receive the encouragement, acceptance, accountability and care that you have always longed for.

Take some time, reflect on God’s Truth.

Do you want followers or do you want to follow Christ?

 

 

[1] http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-01-09-gen-y-cover_x.htm

[2] http://www.watermark.org/media/why-not-me/2231/

[3] http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/narcissism.aspx

[4] Barry, C.T., Kerig, P.K., Stellwagen, K.K., & Barry, T.D. (Eds.). (2011). Narcissism and Machiavellianism in youth: Implications for the development of adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Washington, D.C.: APA.

[5] Mark 10:42-45

[6] Philippians 2:3-4

[7] John 3:30 30

[8] http://www.gotquestions.org/putting-God-first.html

[9] Proverbs 16:18

[10] http://www.christianpost.com/news/relying-on-the-unreliable-feelings-our-no-1-enemy-112017/

[11] Community 101, Watermark Community Church