I remember reading somewhere that a tiny band of coyotes have a way of making themselves sound much more numerous than they actually are. In fact, I think I heard that in a sermon illustration designed for encouraging pastors in the midst of conflict. Often when somebody comes to a pastor and says, “people are talking, pastor”, what they really mean is, “My three friends and I are talking and assume that most everyone else would be on our side too”.
I’ve thought of that illustration often when I’ve had to field criticism. I’ve learned to ask for the names of the coyotes so that I can more easily assess what we are facing. That’s not to say that four coyotes cannot create strife (or even that their howl isn’t warranted). It’s just to say you deal with a situation differently when 75 coyotes are howling than when it’s four trying to sound like 75.
As I scroll through my Twitter feed I’m thinking a bit about the coyote. Social media has the capacity to create a bit of coyote in all of us. It’s easy to overestimate our influence. The whole machine is designed to place us at the center of our own little universe. Twitter is especially prone to this. Not only can you speak to your merry little band of lobos but you can howl at anyone you desire (at least until you get blasted by the shotgun known as the permanent block).
This is why so many of us evangelicals, and those firmly entrenched in TGC-land all the more, are confused by this Trump movement. Almost everyone in our news feed is #NeverTrump. We occasionally hear from those “outsiders” but their voice is quiet. We are the majority. Our howl is the loudest. But in reality social media has blinded us to the fact that we are the outsiders.
Consider ERLC President Russell Moore. He has 89,000 followers on Twitter. This means if all of his Twitter followers comprised a city it wouldn’t even crack the top 300 in the US. Now, I’m fully aware that number of Twitter followers is not an accurate barometer of influence. After all, Dr. Moore has sat with President Obama and been called out personally by Donald Trump. But this ought to open our eyes to the very small blip of influence even of our “celebrities” have on social media alone.
Why am I saying all of this?
I’m saying this because I’m convinced we will not communicate as a prophetic minority while we convince ourselves we are much bigger than we actually are. This goes for the person who still has an egg as his Twitter picture and the social media giants among us.
Our actual influence will be in those quiet moments of praying for our children as we tuck them into bed. It’ll be those subtle gospel conversations where you labor to help your mechanic get one step closer to maturity in Christ. It’ll be walking through the message of Job with the grieving widow. Don’t get me wrong, our tweets will count too. Everything we do for the glory of God is important and is part of God’s cosmic redemption.
Don’t be fooled by the howl of your little pack. Humility demands that we rightly assess ourselves. Let us labor diligently and proclaim prophetically whether we’re howling alone or in a pack of like-minded.