Not so Smart | Successfully engaging your digital device. (Part 1)
They are everywhere, you see them in everyones hands, the newest one will be released tomorrow at some big event, and your thirteen year old has been begging you to get them one... a smartphone. In 2014 alone 1.76 billion people worldwide will own some sort of a smartphone. By 2017, this number will rise to 2.5 billion worldwide smartphone users. Our world is rapidly becoming smart. These devices are not going anywhere, in fact they will only get faster, bigger and yes... even more smart.
Let me say this first, no one can deny the positive contributions that digital technology has made toward the cause of Christ and the publication of the glorious gospel. Now more than ever the gospel can be published around the world in a matter of seconds! Videos, blogs, podcasts, live streaming, chat, text messaging, instant messaging, social media, and mobile apps are just some of the ways in which the gospel is digitally delivered to a world without Christ. What an amazing vehicle which can be utilized to reach untold millions! And the amazing thing is that it is all now possible at the swipe of a finger!
Smartphones are yet another tool that we can use for God's glory. However, if we are not careful, smartphones can also become a curse in the life of the user. Just like anything else in life, if mishandled or misused it can become a snare, or even worse an idol. People do not like to admit this, in fact, it quickly can become a heated topic amongst friends and loved ones alike. (Just tell someone that they spend too much time on Facebook.)
However, I find it interesting that many folks are willing to admit that their smart device can and often does hinder them in the areas of productivity, focus, family relations, and even their spiritual growth. This is not to say that owning a smartphone is wrong, nor is it sinful to own one. (I personally own a iPhone 5s, and yes I am looking to upgrade to the iPhone plus.) However, if we ever arrive at the place where we take offense at someone questioning our overuse or warning us of potential pitfalls with the use of our smart devices... this is Not so Smart. Anything, (including our devices) can become a snare unto us if we are not careful. We should never place our devices at a level in which they become untouchable or unquestionable. This is idolatry at best. Every area of our lives ought to be open to scrutiny.
So what are some ways in which we can be smart or wise about our use of smartphones? Here are some bad habits to avoid, along with some healthy practices that you can implement in your own smartphone bubble.
FIRST TOP 5 DO NOTS:
1. Do not allow your smart device to become an idol. What do I mean by this? Let me give you a visual illustration... We have all seen the family who is walking around inside the shopping market, sitting at a restaurant table, waiting at a stop light, and yes perhaps even sitting in a pew at church... with a smartphone in their hand. It seems like every time you see them they are fully engaged with their smartphones. In fact, the constant tweets on twitter and posts on Facebook are all indicators that their smart device is running their life! Their whole life is governed, guided, and driven by a small device that we call a smartphone. It is suppose to free us up more, make our lives easier, even give us more time to spend with God. Yet, we are finding out that is doing just the opposite. Our devices are becoming what Craig Detweiler calls, "iGods." May God help us to realize this potential pitfall. (Exodus 20:3, Matthew 22:37)
2. Do not allow your device to go unfiltered. Please allow me to address the men... It is possible and highly recommended that you put a filter on your phone. Too many men do not want to admit this or think about it! That is a shame and it says something of those who could care less about bringing the subject up. Parents, if your teen has a smartphone they automatically have access to digital dangers such as pornography and other pitfalls that come native to smartphones. Do not go any longer without a filter on your phone or some sort of accountability. (Romans 13:14, Philippians 4:8)
For more help in this area visit here.
3. Do not allow your device to go unfiltered. YES, I said it again! Too many have gone too long without any restrictions on their smartphones, this is Not so Smart. Recently, I showed a preacher how to restrict his phone and avoid all the native negatives that come with smartphones, he was surprised. However, in the same encounter he asked me to take all the restrictions back off. I chose to give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking later on he would utilize the recommended options for his own safety. To be honest, I was a little discouraged. My prayer is that we as preachers and ministers of Christ be the primary examples in this area. For more help in this area visit here.
4. Do not reference social media before you reference God's Word. Start the day off by inquiring, seeking, digging, and searching through God's word. The temptation is far too real and common... We wake up to our phone vibrating, calling for our attention and ready to give us the most recent news and updates on the things that interest us. We comb through all the recent posts that we missed (and even those we have already seen) afraid that we will miss the latest posts from those close to us and even those not so close. Before we know it, almost two hours have passed... and we have not even gotten out of bed yet! In this situation, God's word inevitably takes second place, if any place at all throughout the day. This is Not so Smart. (Matthew 4:4, Proverbs 8:17, Matthew 6:33)
5. Do not spend more time with your smartphone than with your family. It would seem like this would go without saying right? However, you do not have to go too far in life to realize how families are more digitally engaged than they are directly engaged with their loved ones. Children grow up seeing their daddy and mommy more affected by the all too familiar glow on their face from their digital devices rather than their parents engaging in personal time with what their children want to do. The common cry from their child is, "daddy can you play with me now?" May it never be said of the child of God that he spends more time developing a relationship with his phone than with his family. This is Not so Smart. (Ephesians 6:4)
In the end, our goal with anything in life ought to be to please God. (Colossians 3:23, Hebrews 11:6) It my fear that if we are not careful, our digital devices can and will become a snare unto us and leave negative impressions both physically and spiritually in our lives, and in the lives of those we love most.
Psalm 106:36 - "And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them."
Be wise... Successfully engage your digital smart device.
FTWOTM | R. E. Martinez