This last week I got to babysit my little niece and nephew for a few hours while their parents had a wedding to go to. No, do not worry, I had my wife with me to help. Without her those kids did not stand a chance. Ha! But while we were there my niece loved watching the show Yo Gabba Gabba, which is a children’s program with cute/weird characters and she was hooked into it. It was amazing. The moment that it came on, she actually sat still and watched it and would occasionally dance with the characters (super cute), but she was mesmerized by it. Now I am not speaking anything against it, I actually enjoyed the show because they have bands and musicians I love guest star on it, but I was just interested in the reaction of my niece when it was on. Her demeanor changed when it was on, she zoned out and nothing could get in her way and she noticed nothing around her that was happening. Unreal.
Cell phones are the Yo Gabba Gabba for adults and students. I am not going to lie, I love my phone. I read a ton of great things on it, I love posting on Instagram, checking Facebook and Twitter, without the maps app I would literally be lost going anywhere, they are useful. But my wife has hated me on it…why? Because I become like my niece watching her show. Then I started to notice our students doing the same (even in services! Shocker!). Not only students but all pastors who have a smart phone. There was one point this weekend where I was in a room full of adults with no one talking but all were on their phones.
We have let our minds become like a two-year old’s by droning out and not paying attention to what’s happening around us because we are too into what is happening in our phone.
I got to thinking, what are we teaching our students about how important they are if we cannot go a full conversation without checking our phone. How important does that person that person you are having coffee with feel when you can’t go 10 minutes without checking your email. How loved does my wife feel when I’m droned out on my phone sitting on the couch instead of engaging in even a simple conversation. I’m not saying our phone is bad, it’s actually quite helpful. I’m also not saying that we need to get rid of it and that I have all of the answers on how to combat this, what I like to call “Adult Gabba Gabba Syndrome”. It’s actually now being described by doctors as FOMO, fear of missing out, syndrome, but I like mine better.
Here are some things I have been intentionally trying to do so I do not fall into this what I feel potentially dangerous cycle in ministry:
- When I’m at home, my phone is on “Do Not Disturb” (iPhone) and in my bedroom, where I cannot check it all of the time.
- When I’m at work, my phone stays on my desk. It doesn’t go with me when going into a meeting with someone or the team.
- If I am with a student, my phone is off. There is nothing more important than that student sitting in front of you in that moment.
- Same goes when I’m out with my wife or a friend at dinner. Most of the time I just leave it in the car so the temptation is not even there.
I’m not going to lie, I suck at doing this. And since I write this a week ago, I have failed numerous times. I’m trying to make this a habit. I NEED to make this a habit. I just thought I would share some easy ways to keep me honest and aware of what’s actually going on in front of me. Anything else you can suggest?