It’s no surprise I enjoy technology and the various social media platforms connected to it. The fact that you’re reading this, perhaps even on a smart phone where you saw a link to this post on your Facebook or Twitter feed, indicates you may as well.
However, keeping technology in check isn’t always easy. Sometimes what’s good subtly becomes our god, and we find ourselves worshiping it instead of working with it. So when it comes to technology, it’s good to ask ourselves regularly—Am I utilizing it or idolizing it?
This was the crux of a question I received recently in which I was asked, “I have heard you state before that you are a fan of technology. I think I am somewhat the opposite. I work on a computer everyday, and we have 4 computers at home. Having said that, we don’t have any tablets, and I don’t have a smart phone. Basically I see these things as a distraction. I often wonder, do they draw me closer to God, or take me farther away from him? In most cases, I think they distract me from him. So I haven’t got them. I guess my question is: how do you use technology to draw you closer to God?”
Yes, like anything, technology can be a distraction. But so can anything with great potential for good. So we have to do what you’re doing—ask ourselves, “How can this be used for good?” In other words, what are ways I can utilize this tool and not idolize it?
Succinctly, here’s the basis I work from when thinking how involved to be with technology and its many platforms/opportunities:
1. Am I using it or loving it? In other words, what am I drawing from it: work or worth? If deep inside I am finding a sense of affirmation and security from using it, something’s wrong. This is the deepest question and the one you have to be honest with yourself about. Remember, if it’s a treasure, not a tool, you’re bowing down to it. Not good.
However, if you’re not drawing any personal worth from using or interacting with tech, I’d say use it all you want. But if you feel you’re better—or “accepted” or that you’re finally “in”—now that you have a device, well, there’s something deeper to deal with. Remember, that’s not a technology issue; that’s a spiritual/personal issue. Simply getting rid of or avoiding technology won’t solve that one. It may force you to deal with the real issue, but it won’t automatically “fix” what’s really broken inside.
2. How am I using it? It’s one thing to say we’ll use it to draw closer to God and serve others, and quite another thing to actually do it. So accept the challenge of specifically identifying ways you are truly using it for this purpose. That’s the proof in the pudding.
This can vary from person to person, but the common denomintaor will be tangibility—concrete ways technology is a tool for your personal growth. For instance, is it helping you read and/or understand the Bible more? Memorize Scripture better? Pray more effectively for others? Witness with greater compassion and precision? Give more faithfully and generously?
Personally, I have listed my tangible methods mentally and seek to interact with the various technology platforms for these reasons. Most of mine involve spreading God’s Word to more people, whether as a personal encouragement or a general exhortation.
3. Does it help me help others? To me, other people have to be one of the prime targets of how we use technology. This keeps us from making our tech tools/platforms all about us. As we keep others in the cross-hairs, we better utilize the tools, not idolize them. And when others are edified, God is glorified.
These three questions continue to help me tame the tech monster and keep a potential idol in check.