September 10, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion I encouraged you to stop periodically to that you might examine your life. Even as hikers pause to chart their course and enjoy their surroundings, so we need to stop “walking” long enough to pay close attention to where we are and where we’re going.
Today I want to get very practical by suggesting one way you can stop so as to examine your life. Here it is: Put down your tech! Now, I realize this is a bit ironic since it’s likely you are reading this devotion with the help of technology. So I don’t mean you have to drop your smartphone or shut your laptop right this moment. But I do mean that if you want to stop the busyness and craziness of life long enough to examine carefully how you’re living, you’ll need to become unplugged from tech for a while at some point.
Of course there are many different ways to do this. You’ll want to discover what works best for you. I have friends who practice a full-on “tech Sabbath,” turning off their phones and computers and televisions for a whole day each week. Others “fast” from all email at times. I have friends who follow a “tech free” dinner rule, encouraging all at their tables to silence their phones and put them out of sight. In yesterday’s devotion I talked about loving to hike. One of the advantages of hiking is that usually I get out of cell range. For a while there are no texts, no emails, and no way to access the internet. (Yes, I do use my phone as a camera and topographical map, but those uses don’t really interrupt my tech break.)
One of the best times to put down your tech is before you go to bed. Not only will this give you some moments of reflection and prayer before ending the day, but also it will significantly improve your sleep. If you are on your phone right before bed, your sleep is apt to be compromised. Here’s what researchers at Harvard discovered in a recent study:
We found that the use of these devices before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, delays the circadian clock, suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning. . . . Overall, we found that the use of portable light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime has biological effects that may perpetuate sleep deficiency and disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety.
Now, for some of us, the problem is that if we put down our tech, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. How can we learn to examine our lives carefully when we’re not busy on our digital devices? Tomorrow, I’ll suggest one specific practice we might adopt when we are “tech-free.” In the meanwhile, let me encourage you to think about the following questions and to experiment with putting down your tech.
Something to Think About:
If you are someone who spends lots of hours glued to a digital screen, not counting what is required for your work, why? What is it about screens that you find so enticing?
What helps you to put down your tech for a while?
Have you ever been without tech, feeling at first a sort of panic, but then actually enjoying the peace that comes from a tech break? If so, reflect on this experience and what it teaches you.
Something to Do:
Well, this “something to do” is obvious. Decide when you will put down your tech today, and then do it. Pay attention to how this experience feels to you.
Gracious God, you have given human beings abundant natural resources and amazing natural ability. With these we have created devices that can enrich our lives and empower our work. They can lift people out of poverty and enhance community. But, of course, they can also fill our lives with vanity and distraction. They can become handheld idols that demand our worship. Help us, Lord, to use wisely the technological gifts you have given us. In particular, we ask for the grace to put down our tech at times so that we might quiet our hearts, examine our lives, and be still and know that you are God. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project:
Intercessions for Information Technology (Prayer)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.