Are You A Slave To Your Online Gurus?
Another morning, another filled inbox. Some of the emails are spam, some are reminding me about upcoming bills or purchases that are being shipped, others are from my gurus. My gurus are the people who flood my inbox when they launch a new podcast, blog, or post something especially engaging on Instagram. I tend to never click on these types of emails, but I find myself not deleting them either.
In her book “The Next Right Thing,” Emily P. Freeman talks about limiting our interactions with what she calls our “gurus”. People that we are allowing to speak into our lives and our faiths that we don’t know in person. These could be great people that really resonate with where we are spiritually or what we have gone through. They may have powerful voices and a large number of social media followers to back them up. And you may have too many of them.
One of the problems with our technologically advanced society is that we have access to knowledge or information about anything and almost anyone in an instant. Need an article on prayer? Google it and find approximately 1,000 people to guide you. Need relationship advice? Check out this podcast. Want to grow in your faith? Check out these 12 bloggers. It can seem convenient, but if we aren't careful to guard our hearts, all these voices can become overwhelming quickly.
I have fallen prey to this many times in recent years. As more and more people have become Instagram influencers, it can be easy to find just another great Christian speaker or writer who you can relate to and learn from. Another habit I fall into is taking suggestions of great people to follow from the people I am already following who inspire me on Instagram. It can be easy to just hit a quick follow and not realize you are giving up more brain space with every like and subscribe button.
Suddenly, you may wake up one morning with inboxes crowded with inspirational messages and Instagram feeds filled with people you don’t even know. If you feel like you may have too many great-but-overwhelming voices speaking into your life, I hope my tips can help you to assess who should stay and who should go from influencing you on a regular basis.
I like to be on top of things. Part of that means that I really don’t like to miss out on the podcasts or blog posts that my favorite people are posting. That is easy when I just have a couple to listen to, but can get really challenging when you find yourself with a hundred blogs to read or podcasts to listen to this week. News flash: that isn’t your full-time job. I imagine. So do yourself a favor and limit the people you let influence you online. It might be easy to get rid of some people, but if you are having trouble, ask yourself some questions.
Am I actually reading or consuming something by this person each week, or is my life pretty much the same without their input?
Are they teaching things that align well with my Biblical worldview or Biblical truth?
Does interacting with this person’s work make me feel better or worse about myself?
Is this person worth cluttering up my newsfeed?
If you don’t answer yes to all of those questions, it might mean the time has come for you to hit the unsubscribe button.
Prioritize time with God
God is our ultimate guru, and, like it says time and time again in Scripture, our God is a jealous one. He won’t take lightly to being second place in our hearts, even if it is to your favorite podcaster. So, as you are assessing your gurus, make sure the time you spend interacting with them isn’t longer than the time you spend with God each day or week. Though God can completely use people as His vessels to others. and often does, people are still going to be imperfect. We can’t trust people the way we can trust our infallible God. No matter how funny or relatable any of our gurus are, they can’t compare to spending time in God’s presence.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Don’t feel guilty
Nine times out of ten, you don’t actually know these people. And, if they are truly running after God in the right way, they wouldn’t want their ministry to be a hindrance to your relationship with Him. So do something brave today: unsubscribe from all those ministry emails you never read. Don’t force yourself to finish that Christian book given to you that you don’t really love. Unfollow the Christian bloggers that make you feel less than or like you don’t measure up. We have the glorious choice of freewill in our lives every day; we can steward it with what we consume. Make sure you are consuming something that is worth feeding your soul.
You’re not missing out
I think the main reason we all cling to following so many online gurus is that we want to fit in and not feel left out. We want to be on-trend with what the other women in our churches and Bible studies are reading. We like to realize that we have been listening to the same podcast as a friend. And when we find someone great, we like to share with others so they can have a similar experience. I get it. I have been that person time and time again. But when I sat there scrolling through pictures and stories from my bloated Instagram feed, I realized I was actually missing out on the people I enjoyed most because I had too many people clogging up my feed.
I couldn’t give my soul a break from the world because I was too afraid of missing a spiritual update. I missed the teachings of people I loved the most because I was sick of being on Instagram. And I realized something important: God created all those people. He is the one who put the words into their mouths and the ink to their books. He is behind all of them. When I am too concerned with missing out on messy, human people, I miss out on God. When my soul is stressed and anxious from information overload, I miss out on God. So who cares if you don’t follow the same YouTube star that everyone else claims to love? We all relate to different people. But the one thing we all have in common is our souls all need time with God to be complete.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
It can be hard to not get sucked into another great blogger or Christian speaker. But when we find ourselves with too many voices speaking into our lives, not only can we not hear our own, but we can’t hear God’s. Pick the people that truly are encouraging you to grow in your faith and are speaking God’s truth into your life to be your online gurus. Then unfollow or unsubscribe from the rest. Reduce your social media, podcast, and email feeds, and I bet you will feel the weight that is lifted off your shoulders.
The next time that someone tells you about this or that great person who just wrote a book or started a podcast, don’t be afraid to listen and smile, but don’t be so quick to hit that follow button. You have access to the greatest guru of all time, and you don’t have to subscribe to Him, but you do have to make the time to listen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel resides in Lancaster, Pa where she is a Digital Marketing Specialist. A recent graduate from Grove City College, Rachel hopes that her articles can help girls through hard times in college and also as they transition into the real world. In her spare time, you can find Rachel reading, hanging with her small group, exploring cute cafes, and longing for the ocean. You can find more of her writing at christiangirlcode.org.