Maybe it’s because I live in LA or because I work in sales, but everything seems to be numbers-oriented now. Less or stable isn’t an option–there must always be more.
Recently, a friend mentioned to me her boyfriend broke up with her. I asked why.
“I don’t have enough Instagram followers,” she said.
“Wow,” I thought. “So this is what the world is coming to?”
As an Elite Daily article mentions,
Having a photo posted on Instagram, boasting under 11 likes is like showing up to the prom without a date.
But, as I thought about it some more, I realized having concern for followers or numbers isn’t an inherently bad thing. Millennials want to make a difference and enact change. They want to make an impact on this world. Having enormous social media numbers could indicate you’re making an impact. It also might mean you are noticed and have value.
I understand this mind-set. This past weekend, Kristen and I spoke in Palestine, TX, a smaller community located between Houston and Dallas. On Friday night, I had an amazing opportunity to speak at an event for junior high and high school men.
It wasn’t easy. I reminded myself before I started that I didn’t need reactions to give a great speech. But, when I began, I only saw blank expressions. This made speaking a lot more difficult than I imagined.
“Press on,” I heard a still, quiet voice. “Tell your story. Share you were molested as a child.”
“Really? I don’t feel comfortable doing that right now!” I thought. “Why would I want to be transparent and vulnerable when they don’t even seem that engaged?”
But, I went for it.
Afterwards, I had a few guys come up and talk to me; not many. But then, one kid came up with his eyes cast down.
“I need to talk to you,” he said.
When he told me, it confirmed why I was supposed to share my story.
That night and the next, my wife Kristen had a line of girls out the door wanting to take pictures with her, buy her devotional, or get her autograph. She had just spoken at the girl’s conference. My line was a bit slim. I began thinking I didn’t make an impact. Maybe they didn’t need the newly created guys conference after all.
But then I was reminded of a story from the ancient Bible in Matthew 18:12-13:
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and search for the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
In this parable, as it’s called, Jesus discusses how he would leave the masses to go after one vulnerable sheep that’s lost its way. Rescuing one sheep was more important to him than pleasing the in-crowd, the elite, the influencers, and the religious leaders of the day. Not only did he demonstrate his stance through story, but also in action. He was often making friends with people who couldn’t do anything for his following.
I didn’t see my new friend the next night, but on Sunday morning, I spotted him from the crowd. He decided to step out and come to the front. He said he wanted to know Jesus.
It’s interesting because Jesus happens to be the most known historical figure in the world. The book containing his teachings has sold more copies than any book published. Perhaps his life and his way of doing things should be a blue print for making impact.
It all starts with putting aside the need for attention and social media following, and being content making a difference to one.