Everyone who uses email regularly is familiar with the spam folder. It is that wonderful little file on your email provider that catches all your junk notes. Once every couple of days I open it and scroll through the subject lines quickly to make sure nothing good made it into the file by mistake. Mostly it is filled with advertisements, letters from rich people overseas who want my bank account numbers, mysterious links and of course directions in places I can access porn. After a quick look through the titles, I hit the button labeled with “delete all spam.” With one keystroke dozens of emails are deleted that did not warrant my time.
Spam is the title given to emails we receive that were unsolicited. We gave no one permission to send us these letters, but they came to us anyway. Spam is the junk mail of the digital world.
One day it hit me that I need a spam folder in my life. There are hundreds of people pouring information into my life every day. It comes through people at work, social media, magazines, TV, family, and a hundred other places. Some of the material given to me is valuable. I might want to listen carefully and replay it in my mind. Also, some of what people say to me is just junk.
There is information coming into your life that is not helpful. In fact, it might be destructive if you were to listen to it. Some conversations need to be sent to the spam folder where they can be deleted forever.
There are two big questions I ask about the messages coming into my life.
1. Has this person earned the right to speak into my life?
Do they have the right to speak to you about anything? Does the two-time divorced coworker have the right to give you marriage advice? Should you listen to the parent whose kids are both committed Christians offer parenting suggestions? Is there room in your life for the rantings of a middle-aged person who is apparently unhappy telling you how to live? You get the idea. Some voices do not deserve your time. Other comments deserve particular attention.
2. Does this person genuinely care about me as a person?
This is a tough question to ask, but it is necessary. There are people in your life who will give you instructions without even knowing your story. There are people in your life who see you as a project. They want to make you better, but not because they care about you. The long for the power and admiration it creates with others. Then there are those people who have watched your life. They have prayed for you and cared for your needs. They want the best for you even if the information is hard for you to hear.
In a world where everyone has a voice, through places like blogs, do not be afraid to use your spam folder. Not everyone should have a voice in your life, only the people who are making you a better person and follower of Jesus.
Let me give you permission to develop a spam folder in your life and use it liberally.