I love social media. I’m a big Twitter fan and an avid Facebook user and through those, I’m connected with many youth leaders and church leaders from around the world. And sometimes I see updates that trouble me, that make me wonder or that make me sad.

People don’t always realize that others actually read what they post on social media. That means that you have to be careful what you post, because you could end up hurting yourself, your reputation or even others. Here are 5 things you should not post on social media:

1. Cryptic negative updates

“Had a tough meeting tonight, don’t understand why people would say things like that.”

“Another conflict. You’d think people would behave differently in a church.”

“I’ve really had it with this. Another one of these and I quit.”

I see updates like this regularly. Now I understand the need to say something about difficult things that happen in your life. It’s a way of sharing what’s going on in your life. But what do others think when they read this? And more to the point: what would people think who were actually in this meeting you tweeted about? How much do you want to bet that every single one is going to wonder if he or she said something wrong?

Writing cryptic updates like this only raises questions, for people involved and for random followers and friends who read this. If you want to share, reach out to good friends and share your troubles with them. If you want to ask people to pray for you, keep it more neutral and don’t mention specific situations. Just write “Please pray for wisdom and patience for me” or something like that.

social media

2. Complaints

A complaint every now and then is fine obviously, and of course you can share your struggles on social media, but be careful how much complaining and whining you do. If people were to read through your updates, how negative would these be?

Don’t forget to post ‘happy things’ as well and be careful that you do not create a negative image and reputation for yourself. This may not only hurt your chances for job opportunities for instance, but also for online contacts and friendships. Nobody is attracted by people who are always negative and complaining.

3. Inappropriate content

You’re thinking: yeah, obviously! But you’d be surprised how many Christian leaders are posting absolutely inappropriate content, either by posting themselves or by sharing, liking, retweeting, etc.

Do not post content that is discriminating, racist, offensive to anyone (think minorities, disabled, women, etc), that promotes drinking or other addictive behavior, that is sexual in nature or in any way shows behavior that God does not like. What we post and share should spread God’s love, should build up and encourage, should promote a daily walk with Jesus, should be a blessing to others.

4. Angry stuff

I’m gonna be really to the point here: do not post anything anywhere when you’re angry. Just don’t. You will regret it later and then it will be too late to prevent damage.

Never, ever fight out your battles, arguments and discussions via social media. If things get heated, quit posting. If you or other get angry, stop. Be the first to give in, to forgive, to take the high road. Do not ever get angry on social media. Enough said.

5. Boasting

I’m all for promoting your books, your work, your ministry or whatever using social media. I do it myself, I’m regularly promoting my blog or other stuff I do. But there’s a big difference between promoting and boasting. Promoting is drawing people’s attention to something you have written or created, boasting is drawing people’s attention to yourself.

I’m about to get a little theological here, but in real life as well as on social media, it’s not about you. If you’re a Christian. Jesus should be front and center. That doesn’t mean you can’t tweet about yourself in a positive way, but it does mean you need to find a balance and that you need to know Who deserves the credit. That should show in what you post.

What do you see on social media that Christian leaders shouldn’t post?