Stanley emphasized the importance of valuing relationships with other people over being right about our particular beliefs. “When we lead with criticism, we’ve abandoned values and…there’s no nuance in the conversation,” he said.
Yet social media is full of people criticizing others, often people whom they have never met. All someone has to do is look up the mentions of famous people on Twitter to see evidence of such criticism, said Stanley.
“The people who criticize other people by name, people they’ve never met,” he said, “I think that is evidence of extraordinary immaturity. Because whenever I ask people I respect, ‘Who would you criticize by name on social media that you’ve never met—or that you know?’ Everybody says, ‘No one. I would never do that.’ I wouldn’t either.”
He continued, “So the hypocrisy in a lot of this is that if you would not be willing to walk up to that person in public and say to them to their face what you said about them on social media, you’re the hypocrite.”
Stanley said it does not matter if the criticism is accurate. “You may be right, and your worldview may be correct, and your opinion and your political persuasion may be right. But if you wouldn’t have the courage to say it to their face, then why in the world would you expose such extraordinary immaturity by posting it on social media?”
The pastor also drew a distinction between making a difference and making a point. Sometimes people ask Andy Stanley why he did not speak out on a particular issue online. To that question, he says, “I’m not here to make points. I want to make a difference.”
Sometimes Stanley does not address a particular issue because he does not want to alienate people with whom he is in relationship. By doing so, Stanley says he is not being hypocritical or hiding what he believes, but is rather prioritizing caring about others. “No one who cares about people should ever give up influence unnecessarily,” he said.