Letter to Teens Unboxing Their First Smartphone (Desiring God)

Letter to Teens Unboxing Their First Smartphone (Desiring God)

Tim Challies recently wrote a blog post for www.desiringgod.org highlighting the dangers and rewards of the next generation using smart phones.  Parents and next generation leaders know very well that one of the greatest dangers to a teenagers walk with God is the accessibility of sinful content that is always in front of them . We also know, those same “dangers” can be amazing tools for worship. So, how should parents and teens view their smart phone? Check out Tim’s blog…

You just got your first smartphone! This is a major milestone in your life. That phone you are about to take out of the box is one of the most amazing devices ever created, and it is going to be your constant companion for the next couple of years. It is an incredible piece of technology that can be used in many different ways.

It can be used to do so many good things, but if you are not wary, it can also be used to do an awful lot of bad things. So before you power it on for the first time, I think it would be wise to invest just a few minutes in thinking and planning.

God Has a Purpose for Your Phone

Technology is a gift from God. When we read the Bible, we find that at the beginning of time, God created two people, naked and alone in a little garden, and gave them a worldwide task: to spread out across this world and exercise dominion over it. In order to do that, they would need to invent technologies.

If they were going to plant and harvest crops to feed their family, they would first need to invent a plow. If they were going to spread out across the earth to settle countries and build cities, they would need to invent bridges and boats. In that way, technology is good. Technology is a means through which we can carry out the very purpose for which God created us.

Then, when Jesus was on this earth, he gave his people a new job description that is meant to go along with the first. He told us to take the gospel, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, into all the world. And again, one of the ways we do so is through inventing and using technologies. No wonder, then, that Christians are always paying attention when a new technology shakes the world. Every technology is an opportunity.

When you understand the orders God has given you, you see that God has great purposes in mind for your technologies, and even your smartphone. That phone can be used to organize your life better so you can accomplish more of the things that matter most; it can be used to communicate with others so you can speak good news into their lives; it can be used to read the Bible and list your prayers; it can be used in hundreds of ways that serve the purposes God has given you. Thank God for your smartphone!

Satan Has a Purpose for Your Phone

Unfortunately, there is far more to the story. No sooner did God create man and give him this worldwide mission than man fell into sin. Adam and Eve determined they would disobey God, and when they did that, they brought sin into this world. Technology did not escape unscathed. It, too, exists in this fallen world. This reality means that every technology, including your new phone, can be used to do things that are evil. God has a purpose for your phone, but so does Satan.

Because this is a world caught up in a great cosmic battle between good and evil, every new technology enters into the fight. Every technology brings some benefits and some risks. For every good thing your phone can do, there are other evil things it can do.

You will have the choice before you every day and every moment — will you use it for good or for evil? Will you use it to carry out the tasks God has given you, or will you use it to hinder those tasks? Will you use your phone to serve God or to serve Satan? Thank God for your smartphone, but plead with him for wisdom to use it well.

Your Heart Has a Purpose for Your Phone

What do you love more than you love God? In those times when you are not finding your joy and satisfaction in God, and in those times when sin seems so tempting, what is it that promises joy? What promises satisfaction? What is that thing you need so badly that you will even sin to get it?

For some people, it is money, and they are convinced that, unless they have lots of money, they can never be truly satisfied. They will even steal to get it. For some people, it is power, and they believe that the way to happiness is to accumulate power over others. They will trample or bully people to get it.

Whatever that thing is for you, the Bible calls it an idol. An idol is anything you raise up in place of God — something that, at least for a moment, takes first place in your heart. Whatever your idol is will prove a special kind of temptation for you when you use your phone.

“The way you use your technology reveals your heart.”

If you idolize sexual pleasure, you will probably be tempted to use your phone to look at pornography. Did you know that more than half of all pornography is now viewed on mobile devices like yours? This means that many people like you bought a smartphone so they could text with their friends and take pictures of their vacation, but somehow they ended up using it to look at pornography. They used this great, God-given technology to do harm instead of good.

If you idolize popularity, if it is being admired and having lots of followers that makes you feel good about yourself, then you will be tempted to use your phone to pursue that idol. You may use the camera to take inappropriate photographs of yourself in Instagram, or you may use the Facebook app to say harsh words about other people. That phone that can be used to do so much good and to bring so much encouragement will now be used to cause harm.

There are not many people who buy a phone intending to use it to harm others or to look at pornography. But where your heart is, there your technology will be also. The way you use your technology reveals your heart. It shows whether your heart is oriented toward God and toward finding true joy and satisfaction in him, or whether you are attempting to find counterfeit joy and satisfaction in the things he forbids. At any moment, your heart has a purpose for your phone. Yes, thank God for your smartphone, plead with him for wisdom to use it well, and guard your heart.

Use It to the Glory of God

And now it is time to take that phone out of the box and to turn it on for the first time. As you hold it in your hand, why don’t you take a moment to pray? Ask God to help you to use that phone well. Commit before him right now that, to the best of your abilities, you will only ever use it to serve his purposes. Recruit a believing friend or two to be your accountability and check in regularly.

Then go and glorify him with and through it.

have the confidence to make the right decision?

have the confidence to make the right decision?

When you read scripture it is easy to see the importance of making wise decisions. Our decisions have the ability to build up the kingdom of God or hinder the image of God. As a leader in ministry we are often faced with a plethora of decisions on a daily basis. Some are large, game changing decisions that require hours of thought, research, consulting and prayer. Other decisions may be small in comparison that can be made on the spot. Regardless of the weight of the decision – we need to have the confidence to make the right decision. Sometimes this can be more difficult than we would like.

A few weeks ago I found myself unable to make a simple decision (approve a worship set) that I normally would not struggle with. Maybe this has happened to you. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as, “Decision Fatigue”. Where, a long series of decisions can actually diminish the overall quality of future decisions. You lose confidence to make the right decisions. You take a longer time to make a simple decisions. You doubt your decision making abilities.  The technical term for this is ego depletion – the tireder we get, the less emotional self control you have. You struggle to make the right decisions.

So, how can you have the confidence to make the right decision at the right time? Here are a few ways that have helped me.

  1. Staying Spiritually Full: My worst decisions and my worst seasons of inability to make wise decisions were also the times that I was most distant from God. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1.5, NIV)
  2. Find Your wisdom first in the Word – not the world: Sometimes we can be tempted to turn to books with claver book titles, or blogs to gain wisdom. Although books can be immensely valuable they can’t compare to the riches in scripture.  
  3. Prioritize your important decisions: Every day, I began by writing down what is most important for that day. I know that I make the best decisions early in the morning, or late in the evening. By time mid-day hits my mind is going in a hundred directions and i can’t slow this thing down. Prioritize  what is most important to you. I know that I can’t give myself to everything so I have to pick and chose what is most important.
  4. What’s the best decision for the direction of the ministry/church. Sometimes I a tempted to make decisions based on what I like and my preferences. Every time that I am tempted to make decisions based on me, I have to refocus on..
    1. Is this the best decision right now? What season of ministry are we in right now? How would this decision affect future decisions. Do you have enough margin right now to make this decision?
    2. Does this decision compliment what is most important to our church.
  5. Has someone made this deacon before you? History is extremely important! Who in your ministry has traveled this road before you?
  6. What do my peers say: Before you check up – check sideways. Don’t be too prideful to ask for others wisdom. God has placed you in a team to build you up.
    1. Listen – dont speak.
    2. Proverbs 12:15: The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
  7. Clearly communicate your decision with all parties. 
  8. Some Decisions will be the wrong one’s:Not all decisions will be the right ones, we have to be willing to make the wrong ones in order to make the right ones.

We Will Email You Your Free eBook!

Input your email to receive a free eBook version of our book!

Thanks! You'll be receiving an email with your free eBook soon!