I got in a Twitter war with one of the students in youth group today. Sunday's usually a pretty Twitter-filled day for me, because I like to tweet things that resonate with me from the sermon or the lesson. This is usually not to distracting to anyone (although there was that super awkward time where I finished sending a tweet, only to look up and see the pastor staring at me) but because of my habit of sitting in the front, my phone-fiddling is usually pretty visible to the room. I don't try to hide that I'm on my phone. I forget that other people don't know I'm tweeting about the lesson.
So this student saw me on my phone during the lesson, tweeting about the year of jubilee and God's thoughts on wealth inequality. He called me out on it over Twitter and like a total n00b I took the bait, and we went back and forth for a bit, until he released this zinger: "Yes, you'll teach the whopping 2 people that look up to you that tweeting is more important than God's word. #CalledOut"
Aaaah, hashtag burn!
It burned, it really did! What I had thought was our typical banter seemed to have evolved to a legitimate rebuke . . . even if it was over social media. But still, hashtag harsh! We were dismissed to small group and I turned to the junior high girls ready to complain, "Waaah, this punk hurt my feelings!" And they were like, "Can we please talk about the lesson instead?" And the conviction burned even more!
Still, I found him after youth group and laid out my case. 1) I was tweeting something relevant. 2) This student was tweeting me during the lesson; hypocrisy! I was big-time on the defense, talking fast to save my face and spluttering at his audacity. And while he was laughing at me and maintaining his position, it began to dawn on me . . . I was being ridiculous.
Okay, whatever, I don't feel convicted that using my phone in Sunday school is wrong. I feel like I have freedom in the Spirit to tweet away. Fine. But sometimes I forget that not everyone in youth group is like me. Sometimes I forget that there are kids in that room who hold their faith quite loosely, who use their phones to converse with their friends and feed their distraction from the word being served. Sometimes I forget that the example I give is not based on my intentions but rather my actions. Tweeting in church is #NBD to me, but I need to take the message my actions are sending far more seriously.
The student was totally right.
Even now, hours later in the safety of my home, I feel squishy with shame over how poorly I received his rebuke. How defensive I was, how indignant I was. How my concern over something someone tweeted at me communicated to the junior high girls in my small group the exact opposite of graciousness and humility and self-control. Instead of letting it roll I got all worked up. Over a little tweet. Oh, que vous sotte. It's a wonder they even let me be a youth leader. But you can be sure, no one's going to catch me touching my phone in youth group ever again. Baby steps.