Are you enslaved to your smartphone?

The average American spends over 5 hours a day on their phone, according to some sources. In fact, the average American will spend 5 years and 4 months of their lifetime on social media.

Ask yourself these questions:

Am I constantly checking my social media apps to make sure I didn’t miss anything? Do I feel the need to instantly look at every text as soon as it comes in, even if I’m eating dinner with my family or meeting with Jesus? Am I more responsive to the instant promptings of my phone or the instant promptings of the Holy Spirit?

How much time do I spend on my phone each day? Would it glorify God most if I spent less time or more time?

Tool or tyrant?

Smartphones can be wonderful tools, if used correctly. They can also become graven idols, to whom we bow down in homage, presenting our precious time, money, and attention. As Sovereign Lord, Christ demands our undivided service. He requires, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2).

For many, their phone acts as a leash, jerking them at a moment’s notice, and demanding that they follow its orders. Christians should not be tied to a leash, for we serve Christ alone. The following seven strategies will help you to free yourself from the bondage of the smartphone.

1. Silence your phone during quiet time.

Mark 1:35 tells us that Christ went out into a solitary place to pray. Matthew 6:6 exhorts us to enter into our closet for private prayer. Both of these passages remind us that Christ values our undivided attention.

Are you so enslaved that you never can turn your phone on airplane mode or leave it behind you?

Which is your greatest priority? Is it Facebook, texting, or your relationship with God?

2. Set aside your phone for mealtimes.

We easily prioritize virtual relationships over real face-to-face relationships.

At mealtimes, you could put your phone on airplane mode or lay it in another room. If you’re afraid to miss emergencies, you could set up your phone to only ring after someone calls two or three times in a row.

Most texts and calls are not emergencies and can wait.

3. Remove negative influences.

Whether on Facebook, or at work, “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” Are your friends causing you to focus more on Christ or to compare yourself with others?

4. Use your phone as a discipleship tool.

Are there people you don’t see very often who need encouragement? You could disciple others through weekly Christ-centered phone calls and text messages.

In order to maximize impact, my brother Taylor has an encouraging message on his answering machine.  

5. Go on a media fast.

Could you function without your phone for one week? Go on a media fast. If you cut out social media for a week, you’ll discover that the conversation moves on without you.

6. Ruthlessly eliminate all phone activities that don’t glorify God. 

Because we will all give account for how we used our time, we should take our stewardship seriously.

Does it glorify God most to spend time enjoying your smartphone or memorizing God’s Word, reading a good book, serving others, and building real relationships?

7. Seek God’s best.

It’s possible to not be doing anything “evil,” but to sin by not pursuing God’s best. Don’t ask, “What’s wrong with it?” Ask, “What’s right with it?”

Will the time spent on your smartphone matter in the light of eternity?

What could you do in all the time you spend on your phone?

In the 5 years and 4 months that the average American spends on social media, you could climb Mt. Everest 32 times!

What eternal priorities could you pursue if you allowed God to free you from the bondage of your smartphone?

How much time could you spend investing in your family, being productive, sharing the gospel, and learning life skills?

If you want to truly evaluate your life ask, “At the end of my life, will I be ashamed to give an account for the time I spent on my smartphone?”

Is your smartphone your servant or your taskmaster?

Question: Which of these points resonated with you the most? 

Categories: Communication

12 Comments

J · September 18, 2018 at 12:38 pm

#3. I’m not techie. I wish I could learn a way to filter out all of the bad influences for myself and my teen daughter, therefore being able to use the Smartphone, as well as all forms of social media and internet, for only useful ways.

    Joshua Bontrager · September 18, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    J,

    I get your concern. Most of us struggle to keep our families safe amidst the evil and destructive influences in our world. I have a couple suggestions.

    1. I would suggest that less is best. Honestly ask yourself, “Which activities on my phone and online glorify God and which do not?” The fewer forms of social media and internet to manage, the better.

    2. Remember that any “friends” online who point you or your daughter away from Jesus are not true friends. They should be removed from influencing you.

    3. There are some helpful programs, like Accountable to You, AdBlocker, and Covenant Eyes that help filter out some of the junk and keep one accountable.

    4. Keep in touch with what your daughter is doing on her phone so that you can best protect her from evil influences.

    5. Though social media and internet makes life more complicated at times, God has given His Word, and the grace we need to cope with the problems of our day. If you seek His will for your family and do whatever He asks you to do, you will find that He will guide you every single time.

    Keep seeking Him!

Ann · September 18, 2018 at 1:10 pm

“Could you function without your phone for one week?”

Up until my mother was taken ill the answer would have been an easy and resounding yes, I dislike being permanently attached to a device. My current set up is my mum on one ringtone and the hospital on another, those numbers can get me 24/7 but others are blocked during prayer, Bible study, meals and church.

I’m grateful that I can remember when it wasn’t expected that people could be contacted anytime and anywhere, life was easier and less pressured. On the other hand, I’m grateful that my mum or her doctors can get in touch whenever they need to.

    Joshua Bontrager · September 18, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Ann,

    Thanks for your perspective! Smartphones are a blessing at times, although the liabilities often outweigh the benefits.

    In your case, your phone is your servant because it’s helping you stay connected with her. You’re wise to block all but the most important people during specific times.

Joanelle · September 18, 2018 at 5:23 pm

I liked the way you said that don’t ask what’s wrong with it but instead, what’s right with it.
Thanks for the challenging post!

Stacey K · September 18, 2018 at 8:07 pm

These points apply to laptop usage and online browsing in general! I’m thankful that I don’t have a smartphone yet but I can see the addictiveness of web browsing and social media in my life. I agree with you that it is imperative to make our devices a tool for us to glorify God, and also have found that browsing the web hampers my creativity and also lowers my concentration time, symptoms of addictiveness that I’m sure many of us have struggled with. Replacing device usage during our free time with good books, Bible memorization, writing, exercise, and other meaningful, God-honoring activities will certainly help us with becoming more intentional Christians. It is not only a struggle but also a fight against the culture! However, Christ has asked us to live above the standard/normal and only be servants of Him and to His Body!

Blessings,
Stacey

Stacy B · September 18, 2018 at 9:01 pm

While recently reading 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke I was struck by the statement, “I do not have ‘time to kill.’ – I have time to redeem.” I’ve since been meditating on Ephesians 5:15-16 and praying for wisdom to walk wisely in the stewardship of my time, particularly in regard to technology. I’ve restricted access to social media on my phone and instead installed Scripture Typer and Prayer Mate. I’ve been amazed at the amount of Scripture I’ve been able to memorize and the precious time spent in prayer. I didn’t designate any more time to either of these disciplines in my regular schedule I’ve simply, by God’s grace, made an effort to redeem instead of kill a few minutes here and there throughout my days. Thanks for the important encouragement to seek what is best. I’ve appreciated your and Allison’s recent posts on this topic.

    Joshua Bontrager · September 19, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Stacy,

    I like that quote: ““I do not have ‘time to kill.’ – I have time to redeem.” Thanks for sharing your experience! We could all accomplish much more of eternal value if we redeemed the little moments in our days.

Chad Anderson · September 19, 2018 at 9:55 am

I like # 6 the best. It’s all about accountability. It does not matter who you are, you will give an account for every waking moment on this earth to the All Mighty, and HE IS VERY MIGHTY! Uh, I think that is pretty serious! We have to hold ourselves accountable because He is going to.

Chad Anderson · September 19, 2018 at 10:29 am

I like #3 also. The scripture regarding communications. That’s perfect. That is what we are talking about here is a “communication device”, right? That is a huge aspect. What are we communicating to others and what are others communicating to us through this communication device? Considering that our main priority is communing with God, what is this communication device adding to our communion with God? Secondarily, our purpose is to commune with others through God and through the Holy Spirit. So by communicating to others properly through the use of this communication device we should be in turn communing with God at the same time, right?

Anonymous · September 19, 2018 at 10:36 am

EVERY TIME before we pick up our devices to use them we should pray!
Father, help me to use this device for Your Glory!

Marie · September 27, 2018 at 6:17 am

Thank you for the important reminder of making God our first priority. These are great questions and comments!!!
The question that really resonates with me is “Are my friends causing me to focus on Christ or compare myself with others?” I know that Comparison is the Thief of Joy!!!
Thank you again,
Marie

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