In an increasingly polarized society, Bishop T.D. Jakes has encouraged Christians to use discretion when posting on social media, stressing the power of content that “sheds light rather than generates heat.”
“When you're broaching a sensitive subject, a controversial subject, a subject where you have an opinion ... but may not have necessarily done your research on, I think it's better to start a conversation with a trusted friend and almost use him as a focus group to make sure that you're looking at it holistically, and not just narrowly through the lens of your own point of view, so that when you make a statement, it sheds light rather than generates heat,” Jakes, founder of The Potter's House, told The Christian Post on Thursday when asked about “best practices” when it comes to posting on social media.
“If you go through that litmus test prior to typing, it will save you a lot of grief and pain, and perhaps in certain cases, finances, trying to rectify a ship that has gotten off course because you're exposing it to millions and millions of people around the world without the benefit of the kind of process that normal people would go through,” he added.
Jakes recently released his latest book, Don’t Drop the Mic: The Power of Words Can Change the World. In it, The New York Times bestselling author highlights why effective, God-glorifying communication matters more now than ever before, particularly as everyone has a platform thanks to social media.
Jakes, who also serves as the CEO of TDJ Enterprises, spanning film, television, radio, publishing, podcasts and an award-winning music label, explained that before creating a film or documentary, creators typically go before focus groups — they don’t simply “throw ideas into the public domain."
“I think that would be a very, very helpful practice to do,” Jakes said, adding that platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are bad places to “start a relationship with other groups and entities if you don't have the prerequisite of a personal real relationship that causes you to share what you have learned.”
“It's better to say what you have learned or what you're thinking or what you're wondering about rather than stated as a fact and become an authority without credentials,” he said.
During the interview with CP and other reporters, the Dallas-based pastor also reflected on why good communication is important for building connection and community and ultimately, furthering the Gospel.
He shared how, growing up in West Virginia, he was surrounded by a predominantly white community, compelling him to build relationships across many different platforms, races and cultures.
“When America started finally having a real, open conversation about race, it was quite inflamed and difficult and awkward because most Americans, and Christians in particular, think that silence equates to unity. But it's really just like a bad marriage where communication has eroded [and that] doesn't mean that the people are happy in the relationship,” he said.
“As difficult as this conversation is, I think it's a critical conversation to have,” he said. “I have gone out of my way to talk to several white pastors who got backlash from the black community because of the way they phrased or said certain things. ... And what I said at every turn, is, ‘Keep talking, don't withdraw into a shell and become silent and stop talking.'”
“We must continue to communicate about this because it's not going to go away by us going back into our tribalism in our silos. We have to keep talking. And get it right.”
One of the most influential communicators of today, Jakes shared how there have been times in his own life and ministry where he’s gotten it wrong — and been forced to admit his wrongdoing and make changes going forward. Making mistakes — and then being corrected — “doesn’t mean to stop talking,” Jakes emphasized.
“We need your voice. We all need each other's voices in order for us to be the human race that we were meant to be,” he said.
The bishop stressed that effective communication and ongoing dialogue will help promote unity in a society that seems increasingly divided.
“In order to survive as a society, as an entity, we must recognize our own unity, and not allow the color of the coats of skin that's placed on our backs to ignore the fact that my kidney will work in your body, your blood will work in mine, and it doesn't take away from anything that I have.”
“We are one species, and we need to be more proficient at accentuating our oneness and acknowledging our differences in a way that brings wholeness.”