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Who is a true expert? reflections from a millennial mom

Updated: May 30

Like most millennial women, I spend a lot of time interacting with different media platforms. My personal go-to's are Instagram and Spotify podcasts, and I haven’t been able to let go of my Facebook just yet. These things honestly add a lot to my daily life!


My husband and I are serving on the mission field in Berlin, Germany with our two young kids in tow, so social media helps me stay connected to friends and family who otherwise feel (and are) very far away. Most of the recipes I use to cook dinner for my family come from Instagram reels, and podcasts keep me company while I am at the gym or walking to the grocery store. I think these platforms are awesome, and I’m genuinely grateful to live in a time where they exist! 


However (you knew it was coming), I am often overwhelmed by the amount of people in these spaces who have positioned themselves as experts in every topic under the sun. Cooking, home-organizing, business, parenthood, fitness, spiritual enlightenment—if you want an “expert” opinion on something, all you have to do is scroll and let the algorithms do their thing. And it gets even more overwhelming, and confusing, when adjacent posts are spouting completely contradictory advice. One influencer will share passionately about how horrible animal protein is for your body, and the very next video is another person preaching the importance of eating red, raw meat. One Insta-mom shares the perfect morning routine for optimizing her children’s performance in school and other activities throughout the day, and the mom right below her makes a passionate plea to not put any structure or boundaries into a child’s day so they can be “free range” (all real examples). There is a podcast for any topic and point of view you can imagine, and they are all really convincing…but what is actually true? 


trust scripture for everything?

As a young mom, a minister, and an expat living far away from the familiar, I seek a LOT of advice and guidance. But I have found myself being overly-influenced by the “experts” on my phone, which has often led to insecurity, confusion, and left me feeling even less equipped than I was when I set out for help in the first place. I know I am not alone in this! But what do we do about it? If you’re a faithful disciple, the cliche answer is “Trust the Bible!” But how do we actually apply this? 


It seems like Timothy was asking some of these questions to Paul as he was being trained as a young church leader in Ephesus. Timothy was probably hearing a lot of contradictory messages from the people and culture around him, and most of Paul’s second letter to him is an encouragement to stand firm in the faith, to rely on the true expert: our creator. In 2 Timothy 3:12-17, it says:


“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 


The question modern Christians need to ask themselves is this: do we really believe that the Bible can equip us for everything? Or have we relegated the Bible to be just one of the resources we use, and only when it pertains to obviously spiritual things? 


College students: does the Bible inform you on how to be a hard-working student with integrity? Or is TikTok your source for what a real college experience should look like? 


Parents: is the Bible your blueprint for disciplining, raising, and training your children? Or are you relying on the latest studies from top universities? 


Christians: do your core beliefs and convictions come straight from the God-breathed scriptures? Or from the 60 second Instagram reel you watch every week from a cool preacher? 


There are so many amazing resources at our disposal in our modern world, and most of them are NOT bad. A lot of them are even incredibly helpful, revealing, and encouraging. But a lot of them are misguided at best and down-right deceitful at worst. Good or bad, none of these “experts” can replace the authority of the Word of God in our lives if we are among those who “want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.” 


The power of advice in a complex world

It is also clear from 1 and 2 Timothy that the young church leader had a close, trusting, and powerful mentor/mentee relationship with Paul. Timothy sought Paul’s wisdom and advice on a number of issues, and Paul provides input in an uplifting and inspiring way.


One of the greatest gifts God gives us is relationships with other believers, and the scriptures emphasize the importance of seeking advice and influence from trusted people. It is SO much easier to Google a question about raising your kids because it requires no humility or vulnerability. We do not have to expose our struggle with purity if we just seek anonymous help from an Instagram page. And we do not have to receive any challenge in our convictions or Biblical interpretations when we stay in the echo chamber of a curated “Explore Page.” But we miss out on such a deep, rich part of fellowship when we turn to our phones for advice instead of to the people living life alongside us.


If you need more convincing on God’s passion for advice, just read the book of Proverbs!


There are many gems to pick from, but one of my favorites is Proverbs 20:18, which says:


 “Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.”


I also love Proverbs 19:20:


“Listen to advice and accept instruction that you may gain wisdom in the future.”


Media can provide a lot of helpful input on any number of topics, but our main advisors should be people we know, people who have displayed the fruit that is in keeping with repentance, people who we have allowed into our own lives (how well do you really know advisors on social media?). This can be hard for me, because I am not naturally vulnerable or humble (if you are, please give me all the tips). But some of the richest, deepest, and most life-changing relationships I have are with people who I have exposed my whole life to and who I regularly seek input from in my discipleship, my marriage, my motherhood, and my ministry work. I am a better woman in all areas when I obey the scriptures on who should be influencing me!


It is so important for all of us to examine the experts in our life to ensure that they have not become idols. Because there is only one expert who created your inmost being, who sees the thoughts and attitudes of your heart, and who heals you through his wounds. And he left us a perfect guidebook to make us “wise for salvation” and to ensure that we are “thoroughly equipped” for everything life throws at us. The experts on Instagram can teach me how to air-fry my chicken, but I’m going to let God’s Word inform me on the rest. 


Sara Bolves

Berlin, Germany


Sara Bolves is a Women's Ministry Leader who is currently serving on the mission field in Berlin, Germany alongside her husband, Austen. She is a kingdom kid and was converted in the teen ministry in Seattle, Washington at the age of 16. She has worked in the full time ministry for 9 years now, serving in the churches in Seattle, Boston, and now Germany. Austen and Sara have two boys: Rowan (3) and Thaddeus (1.5). Their current focus is building up the next generation in Germany and across Western Europe. 

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