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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Unplug and Smell the Roses: Four Suggestions for Having a Real Life

This post is about phones. Smartphones. Phones that one uses to do everything—except actually talk to friends and family. I think they’re the scourge of the earth, and I’ll explain why.

Many years ago now, before smartphones, friends in a university ministry hosted a group from overseas. This group was supposed to be there for ministry, and they were mostly university students themselves. When the visiting group discovered that their host family had Wi-Fi in the house, the “ministering students” quickly got out their laptops and spent the rest of the time online, plugging in at different corners of the house. Instead of connecting with the young people who were in the house, they isolated themselves from those they were supposed to be ministering to. While I totally understand that these young people would have been delighted to get online after several days of non  connection, they should have waited until there weren’t people around that they could have ministered to. Late at night would have been fine, or the next morning. They ignored the people they’d traveled thousands of miles to minister to—at least that first day. It left sadness in the hearts of their hosts.

A group of teens traveled to Europe. Smartphones in hand, they were looking down as their hosts spent time and money to take them to amazing parts of several different countries. The kids missed probably ninety percent of the scenery—quaint little towns and natural beauty. They were busy chatting with people back home and playing games, thumbs flying. When they arrived at their destination, they smiled and took selfies and a few other pictures, and then turned back to their phones—texting, chatting, and connecting. Their hosts couldn’t even get them to look up or listen to the interesting historical background about the castle they were visiting.

Another group went to a foreign country and sat down to eat in a family’s home. Phones came to the table too, accompanied by earphones. The hosts couldn’t even talk with their guests. The phones took over at mealtime.

You’ve probably witnessed this phenomenon yourself. Just go to any restaurant. No longer do people socialize face to face. They ignore those they’re with, and they look at their phones. Oh yes, they take pictures of their food and send it to their friends and maybe take a selfie, too, but they don’t actually connect in real life.

I want to address this problem because I think it’s more than a faddish problem.
It will have dire consequences in the future.
  • They won’t have a clue about good manners. The whole premise of good manners is that you put others first. That’s a biblical concept, by the way. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Romans 12:10).
  • They won’t understand how to develop true friendships. All of their friends become “virtual.” The danger is that when it comes time to talk to people on a mind and heart level—for example, in a dating relationship—they really won’t have anything to say. They might not be listening, either. Real relationships are formed by actually being “present” in the friendship. True relationships happen when people talk back and forth, laugh together, and enjoy things together.
  • They have the false impression that every life experience is not to be experienced, but rather to be shared online. Instead of living in the moment and enjoying the whole experience—drinking in the atmosphere, actually looking at the sights, listening to the sounds, and even smelling the flowers—they take two selfies and get back to their phones. The Bible says to enjoy life in a pure way. Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion (Ecclesiastes 5:18).
  • They won’t have time for God. A relationship with God requires seeking His face—in prayer and Bible study. It means getting to know Him. Even if a person has a Bible on his phone—a good idea, by the way—he can’t really pause without distraction and worship and pour out his heart to the Lord without being distracted by his device. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes (Psalm 119:9-12).
  • They will not understand Christian service. Serving Christ means serving God and others. This means you’re active in your church’s ministry. It means you do things for other people. It means you show God’s love by loving others. It means you’re transparent, vulnerable, and available. You cannot truly be there for others if you’re always looking at a screen. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6:22).

So, what can be done? Do we burn our smart phones? Of course not! But, I think parents would be wise to at least consider these four suggestions.
  1. Decide on an older age for giving children smartphones. Personally, I don’t think children need them, ever. But, if you disagree, at least consider letting them have unlimited technology at a later time. Your nine-year-old doesn’t need a smartphone at all! (Consider giving younger children simple phones that don’t connect to the Internet.)
  2. Limit access. There should be times when parents don’t allow children to be on their devices: mealtime, in church, in school, and in social and family gatherings. It’s not ever acceptable for kids (or adults!) to be on phones in these situations.
  3. Include your children in Christian service. Do ministry together as a family. The “me generation” needs to be taught to serve the Lord and others. If you don’t know what needs to be done in your community, ask your pastor for ideas.
  4. Travel with your children and take a journal to write in and real cameras—not phones! You’ll grow as a family and make life-long memories. 
Unplug, and smell the roses!


  1. Totalmente de acuerdo!! Nos ha pasado muchas veces lo que cuentas. Hasta hemos tenido personas que vinieron a trabajar con nosotros desde el extranjero, les hemos hospedado, y en la mesa estaban con sus telefonos mirando y riendo y nosotros, la familia, teníamos que hablar entre nosotros. jajaj.

    1. ¡Gracias, Hermana! Que nos ha pasado también. :o)


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