learning from ashton kutcher

A few nights ago, Twitter exploded with Brazilians seeking the impeachment of their President of the Senate, José Sarney. They were variously begging celebrities to join the cause by Twitter-commenting on the situation.

And there’s no bigger Twitter-celeb than Ashton Kutcher, who apparently got quite a few messages like this:

in behalf of all the honest brazilians who seek to have a better place! Could you write #forasarney [to show support]?

Obviously, those Brazilians know that Ashton’s tweets are seen worldwide. Getting him to mention their cause would immediately elevate it to the attention of hundreds of thousands of people. But his response?

Im not educated enough on your current situation … to be effective. I’m sorry. but I believe in the power of your unity.

It struck me that college ministers can learn something from this kind of noncommittal response. I’m sure that’s a wisdom that’s easier to learn when you realize that literally millions of people might end up hearing what you have to say. And of course that’s not our platform – our exposure rarely makes it beyond our ministry, or the guy we’re discipling, or maybe our Facebook crowd.

But I do know campus ministry work makes it quite tempting to have lots of opinions. College students love that – love when we rail against something that has a large number of devotees, love when we “go deep” by expounding on some controversial theological point with certainty each week, love when we implement some person or issue as a throw-down example for tonight’s message. It’s tempting to be a pundit, to have a stance on every conceivable book, song, political issue, Christian personality, doctrine, church in our town, church in America…

There are hills to die on, issues to stand on, and points worth making. You and Jesus have to work through which ones.

But being slow to speak and seeking much counsel before “going to battle” are biblical commands that many people (and Ashton Kutcher, apparently) recognize as right and good. Plus, we who are Christians even have biblical directives (in Romans 14, for example) to withhold some opinions that we are pretty certain of, too.

Too often our students are learning, from us, to polarize. To have opinions before they form opinions. And to make sure they always have an opinion about everything.

So maybe that means our exposure goes a little further than we think – because our students, mimicking us for perhaps the rest of their lives, will spread our methods far and wide.

With that kind of publicity, shouldn’t we be really careful? Shouldn’t we make sure, at the very least, that we bring humility and caution to our stand-taking?

Say it with me (and Ashton):

“I’m not educated enough on that situation to be effective.”

Tomorrow, as usual, a new college ministry Fridea!

2 Comments

  1. I really don’t – even very helpful questions like, “Is it edifying?,” and, “Does it create a stumbling block?,” can be used either way in many cases. While there might be helpful grids of principles – and I’d love to know if there are – ultimately it comes down to case-by-case, ask God about THIS time, humility and caution.

    But one principle I’d probably start with is defaulting with NOT taking stances, until we’ve done the amount of work needed to do so (and that “amount” is a judgment call each time).

    But again, I think there are probably helpful principles to walk through! And as we get to know our audiences (both local and extended), that will help with the wisdom on this.

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