3 ways to use social media (for good)

When it comes to social media, I think many of us have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. There are so many positive aspects about the connectivity it can generate, the relationships it can develop, maintain or strengthen and the exposure it can bring to many forms of information and inspiration. But there are also well documented aspects of social media that lead some to avoid it. Here are three redemptive uses of social media that I believe could make it one of our greatest assets in making the world a better place!!

1. Advocate & support

Social media provides a powerful platform to raise awareness, profile and funds for deserving people and causes.

Through social media, we are connected with needs and opportunities that might not otherwise come to our attention. From the comfort of our own couches we can donate to worthy causes, support individuals in their world changing efforts, sponsor research initiatives, support small business, petition governments and change agencies, and shine a spotlight on need and injustice. We can also share stories of courage, inspiration and hope.

The simple act of ‘liking’ a post increases its reach, ‘sharing’ or re-posting even moreso and our comments offer encouragement and support to the person or organisation – cheering them on to bigger and better accomplishments on behalf of those who need it most.

So whether it is the opportunity to support a friend’s child in the “Jump Rope for Heart” skipathon, or sign a Collective Shout petition to take steps to rid the world of sexual exploitation, or read a story that awakens our hearts to injustice, or sponsor a young person travelling overseas to understand more of the needs of the world, or donate goods to a prison or homeless ministry, or donate to aid men’s mental health, or like, share or comment on the activity of someone championing another worthy cause … or to utilise the platform to raise funds or awareness for those things God puts on your heart – do it!

A sure fire antidote for the draw of social media to be about self-indulgence, comparison, appearance management or complaining is to consider how we might use the platform to draw attention to what matters and use our voices on behalf of those without one.

2. Honour & encourage others

There are no shortage of places a person can turn to if they’re looking to be torn down. Even without trying we can find ourselves on the end of others’ (or even our own) criticism, judgement and exclusion. Social media offers a place to reverse that experience and to bring encouragement, affirmation and honour into one another’s lives.

Special occasions – birthdays, graduations, achievements, Mother’s/Father’s/Valentine’s Days, anniversaries, new jobs, farewells (etc) – are a great opportunity to publicly honour people of significance in our lives. Those we admire, those we are proud of, those we desire to champion and celebrate. And even on no-special-occasion-at-all days! What a great opportunity social media presents to say a kind word or two – to or about another person. To pause just a little longer to find words to articulate what you appreciate about them or how they are positively influencing your life and the lives of those around them.

I love the chance to share a photo and a ‘shout out’ to someone who is giving their all and living their best life. How grateful are we for people around us who do that in a way we can aspire to and be encouraged by!? Why wouldn’t we take the opportunities to share that sense of gratitude with others and give their spirits a boost in the process?

But even more than that, we can honour and encourage just in the ways we react to other people’s sharing. I often hear people talk about social media being a place they find hard because, for them, it breeds jealousy and discontent. What mental and/or heart shift might we make to see or hear of another’s success or enjoyment and choose to celebrate them rather than give voice to the negative or self-focussed emotions that might otherwise threaten to come to the surface? What we speak out to others we speak into our own psyche also – the choice to affirm or celebrate can do as much for our own wellbeing as it does for the object of our comments.

3. Spread joy!

If you have a bad customer service experience at the shops or on the phone to your insurance company. If you have opinions on the ineptitude of …**insert people of greatest annoyance here** (other road users, politicians, attendants at McDonald’s drive thru windows, people who misuse apostrophes etc). If you have a grievance about, well, anything or anyone – you will no doubt find some cathartic relief in bashing out a well-worded (or otherwise) rant on social media and then find a degree of satisfaction in the responses of others. People are very ready to jump on board with their own stories or deep empathy for your plight.

I’m just not sure it really helps much in the long run. In some cases, it does nothing more than rally people towards judgement and bullying. In most cases, it achieves nothing positive.

Social media platforms are perfectly poised to be a mechanism to bring joy, hope, life-giving encouragement and edification. To bring laughter to someone’s day (I find a story of your own epic failure is a great way to get people laughing!!), to acknowledge difficulty and share burdens, to speak words of peace, promise and potential into another’s circumstances. To give a cyber high-five to people who are succeeding at being an adult (you know, doing all the things!) or a cyber hug to those living through difficult seasons.

It’s a good question to ask of what you post yourself – and also a posture to adopt in your responses to what other’s post – does this spread joy? Does this perpetuate positivity? Does this point people toward things that are beautiful and creative and life-giving and hope inspiring and people honouring and smile inducing and motivating? When you could respond in jealousy, will you choose celebration? When you could dismiss or minimise the needs and hurts of another, might you choose words of empathy and compassion? When you could highlight the negative, would you choose instead to emphasise the positive?

Thoughts for action :-

Do you use Social Media in these positive ways? How might you change your online engagement to utilise these platforms to advocate and support, honour and encourage and spread a little more joy?

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3 things to look for in a mentor

Everyone should have a mentor (read here – 3 reasons you need a mentor) but sometimes it’s hard to know exactly who you are looking for. Here are three characteristics I believe are worth considering.

Find someone who is successfully doing something you want to do successfully. 

Be it in business, parenting, leading, discipline, advocacy, finances, study, fitness or relationships – whatever you are hoping to grow in, develop or attain – your mentor should be demonstrating elements of that competency. They should be further down the path than you. They should have the wisdom to be able to assess and articulate how they came to be successful – a person who can’t describe what they did to bring them to their current stage of life, work, serving or character will not be able to teach or lead you to a similar destination.

Find someone who allows you close. 

A good mentor will let you understand something of their life – of the path they’ve walked and the context in which they’ve developed their character, beliefs and skills. Beyond what they might teach you from their learning and wisdom, a great mentor will allow the story of their life to bring application and a shared sense of journeying.

There should also be a degree to which the vulnerability you express to a mentor is honoured with their own vulnerability. The safety of such an environment will allow the relationship (and you) to flourish.

Realise you might need more than one someone. 
Because your life is diverse and you are likely to be engaged across a number of roles or circumstances it may be most beneficial to have more than one mentor rather than expect one person to meet all your needs. Across the journey I have had a variety of mentors – each leading and investing in me in particular areas. I have had mentors around communication and preaching, generations ministry, being a female in leadership and ministry, writing and publishing, leading at the next level, and those who are more invested in pastoral care of me.

Finding one person who can be all things to you might be unrealistic.

What would you add to this list? What have you found about your own efforts to have a mentor or as a mentor others?

in series 

// 3 reasons you need a mentor
// 3 reasons you should be a mentor

trump, leadership & the language of abuse


When I was 13 years old, there was a boy in my Year 8 classes at school who would often grab me in my crotch. 

I would get to class quickly and try to position myself between two occupied seats but he was that guy with enough social clout to tap the person next to me on the shoulder and tell them to move or even get that done with just the flick of his head. 

I would sit my school books or pencil case on my lap as a deterrent. 

I remember him laughing. I remember feeling so unsafe. I remember not understanding why – what was he trying to communicate, how was I supposed to feel or respond?

Maybe he didn’t really know either? Where had he got the idea? What goal was he trying to achieve? What did his actions reflect of his understanding of sexuality or intimacy or respect for women? 

And then, then you hear the recording of Donald Trump – a 59 year old man (at the time), successful in business, of high social profile, educated, and relationally and sexually experienced. He is clearly heard to say about women, “when you’re a star …you can do anything. You can grab them in the p—y. You can do anything.” 

So, it’s just because you can? It’s just because no one tells you not to? 

Why is HE doing it? Does he think it’s sexy? Has it worked as a pick up measure in the past? Does he think women like it? Does he consider it foreplay? Does it feel like a conquest?

Whatever the motive and whatever the personal justification, he has ultimately given voice to the misguided behaviour of a 13 year old boy – and males of all ages – that ‘because you can’ supersedes all other filters for choosing a behaviour or action. The lack of respect for others (particularly women), the obscene level of narcissism, the depraved distortion of sexual intimacy and honour of another’s sexuality, the right of another to feel safe in their person – free from the expectation that someone might just grope their genitals at any time …all that and more just falls away. 

This is the fertile soil that nurtures abuse and entitlement and this man has just put language to it. 

This IS leadership. It is terrible leadership – but it is leadership. It is a person of influence using language of permissiveness and dishonour to shape the culture they are leading. 

This really is not okay. 

Our young men need to hear a different narrative and be called to champion a higher standard. Our women need men who will esteem and protect them – for everything they are – including their sexuality and physicality but extending deeper to their mind, their soul; their hearts. Our countries need leadership that embodies respect for every human and renders unacceptable anything that demeans or diminishes. 

Trump’s profoundly inappropriate attitude and words (including his lame charade of an apology) and the response they’ve received ought to be a wake up call for us all. A call to check our language, check our privilege, and check our leadership. 

We can do so much better than this. We must. 

why you should HATE porn 


The harmful impacts of porn on those consuming it, those creating it and those affected by the consequences of addiction ought to cause a degree of alarm. The ready availability and ease of access to pornographic material requires intentionality to stand against the insidious nature of its reach and consequences. 

  • It makes public what should be private 

Pornography makes ‘entertainment’ out of activities that ought to be personal and private. It is so counterintuitive to have doors on bedrooms, curtains on Windows and do not disturb signs on hotel rooms and then watch by choice the exact actions we would deem necessary to discreetly protect. 

  • It turns real people into mere objects 

Most porn depicts women as existing for the pleasure and gratification of men. As porn access and use escalates there is an increasing dehumanising of all involved. It trains watchers to disconnect from any sense of empathy, care or interest in the people as people (someones’s sister or friend) and to see them only for the functions they perform. The societal impacts of this are being documented as devastating. 

  • It promotes sex without intimacy

Sexual exploration and enjoyment is designed to be an expression of intimacy and a catalyst for deeper intimacy between loving, committed adults. Pornography is such a perverse distortion of this design intent, depicting sex entirely devoid of relational connection or love and often without consent. 

  • It normalises rape and sexual violence

Over 88% of pornographic content depicts acts involving violence or force. Non-consensual sex and aggression (inflicting real pain) against women is not only condoned but portrayed as enjoyable for the women. Doctors report an alarming number of young girls presenting with severe anal damage and associated complications as a result of rough and inappropriate sexual activity. 

  • It is a common but poor sexual educator 

Young people are viewing porn before they have even had their first crush or kiss and well before any formal education from schools (or even parents). They are exposed to an insane level of sexual learning before their brains are even able to process what they’re seeing or the reactions it illicits in them. It is shaping the sexual appetite and expectations of people who are often without a counter-message about the truth of healthy sexuality and intimacy. 

  • It is as addictive as any drug 

Addiction to pornography is a well-documented, life destroying scourge. Research reveals impact on job retention, financial security, educational success, family/relational health and general mental and physical wellbeing as the result of an all-consuming obsession with watching porn. Like any drug, an increasing amount or level of stimuli is required to achieve the same degree of arousal, enjoyment or release. Some youth have reported watching more than eight hours of porn per day!

We should HATE porn. For the gross distortion it is of something innately precious. For its numerous negative and destructive consequences. For the themes of dishonour and abuse of power. 

This website is a useful resource for education, advocacy and also practical support to fight sexual/pornographic addiction. Check it out – fightthenewdrug.org   

celebrating mother’s day

As a gift to our Mums and families on Mother’s Day, our church photography team offered family portraits. I love that our church did this! We were excited to think of all the mums who would love the chance to have a quality photo taken with their brood – for free! Winner, right?

What I didn’t anticipate was an extra blessing that came from offering this service. One that swept me – and others – up in its expression of God’s heart for His family and generated such a great buzz amongst those who were present. 

It’s all summed up by these three photos. 


The first photo is my Mumsy and me. Isn’t she the cutest? Bless her little silver socks off! If she’s lucky enough, I might get it printed on a coffee mug so she can look at us all the time! 

But here’s where the fun started. 

The middle photo is of my great friends, the Whites … and me! As they rounded up their children for the photo Sharyn walked past me and said, “Get ready, you’re in the next photo!” I replied, “Me?” And the answer came, “Yeah, of course, you’re family!” It’s no wonder my smile was so cheesy and bright! 

Of course, the photo itself doesn’t make me family. But it captures a heart and relationship that is very much about being family. These guys have consistently extended themselves to include and support me in ways I have come to rely on and I love the relationships I share with them – individually and collectively. Such a blessing. 

The third photo is a “3 generations” photo. Elise came alongside me and said “So, family photo? Y’know, spiritual mum and all that.” (Of course I am far too young to be a biological mother to someone her age. Cough. Cough. Not really. Sigh.) And then she called out to young Alex and said, “It’s family photo time!” Of course, Alex’s eyes lit up at the idea of her mentor (and hero) including her. And so the three of us snuggled up for a shot. 

Together, these photos reflect what celebrating Mother’s Day looked like for me. An opportunity to honour and love on my own Mum; being included in a family’s celebration and expression; and acknowledging the special role of spiritual mothers. 

As people lined up for photos in our foyer, those relationships were captured in various combinations, with similar feelings of honour, inclusion and gratitude. 

Mother’s Day is simultaneously one of my favourite days and one of my most difficult. I have long ago made the decision to celebrate the day (read “I will celebrate Mother’s Day“) because despite my grief and longing there are many women who are worthy of recognition and honour. This year I found that in celebrating others I, too, was celebrated and it was a truly memorable day. 

“12 thoughts of Christmas” #9: It’s Tradition!

Yesterday as I was at the supermarket getting last minute cooking supplies, I saw a packet of Christmas lollies that made me smile. They’re often called “traditional Christmas mix” or something similar and they only seem to come out at Christmas time.

I smiled because I’ve had those lollies at pretty much every Christmas I can remember. There were a few loose ones in the bottom of our stockings (that we always ate before breakfast – which sounds like a great idea but always left me feeling a little weird) there were bowls of them around the house – they were like the official treat of the ‘we can eat lollies at any time today because it’s Christmas’ rule! I associate them with my Grandparents (who died before my 12th Christmas), which is a lovely memory too.

Traditions are important to creating a family history. They form part of the shared story that undergirds family relationships – between parents and children and also amongst siblings. Traditions are an important part of our development as children and are formational in our understanding of who we are and where we come from.

On Facebook these past weeks I’ve seen pictures of some great family traditions. From stringing popcorn and cranberries for an edible decoration to visiting the Myer Christmas windows, from a crazy late night shopping expedition to walking the neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights. A gingerbread house decorating competition, a picnic at the Carols, cricket matches, funny Kris Kringles, friends gathering for a BBQ and writing Christmas cards. All of these traditions are so fun to revisit and bond families and friends in love and memories.

Let us know what you do! What traditions do you honour every Christmas time?

And of course, let attending church together be one of those traditions too.