Christian Living

If Your Phone Could Talk

We used to say you could tell a person’s priorities by looking at his checkbook. I’d submit to you that today you can tell a person’s priorities by how he uses his phone.

If your phone could talk… what would it say about you?

  • Who is he talking to?
  • Who is he texting?
  • How is he talking about people?
  • How does he talk about people via text?
  • What is he looking at when no one else is looking?
  • When is he using his phone?
  • Does his phone fill his hand more than the hand of the one he loves?

Here’s what I know about technology. One day your phone will tell on you. One day everything you’ve posted on Facebook may become public. One day everything you’ve ever Googled may be public. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

One day… it will all tell the whole story of you. Every key stroke on that device could one day be exposed. Every text message, direct message, email, and Facebook message could one day become public.

I believe your smart phone is amoral. It’s can be used for noble or ignoble purposes. My hope is that as I use my phone,  (and technology like it) I use them as instruments of Good News in how I conduct my personal, family, and business affairs.

The story your phone tells is up to you.

Church Leadership

I keeps it real

Let my life be true.

That sums up my relational strategy with friends, co-workers, and family.

I keeps it real.

There’s a tendency among ministry folks to put a happy face on everything. Or worse yet to try to put a leadership face on everything. While I appreciate the desire to try to put on a tough exterior the fakeness they exude often makes the insecurity and deep hurt bubble to the surface even more.

In order to keep it real you don’t have to wear your heart on your sleeve. Don’t misread that. But somewhere you need to take off that tough exterior to reveal the scared, goofy kid you are.

Let’s face it– No one in leadership deserves to be there. None of us is more qualified than anyone else. God often puts us in situations where we are in way, often WAY over our heads. While we shouldn’t try to lead from a position of fear… we can’t hide behind our defense mechanisms all the time. Instead, we need to lead from a place of security in who we are and who God wants us to be.

Keeping it real isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s shows you understand you are in the shadow of the Great leader.

Longevity tip: Find a group of friends who you can keeps it real with.

Taking it a step further: I’d love to see a movement of young leaders who commit to one another, “I keeps it real.”

In a world full of fakes the people are dying for Christian leaders who keep it real.

youth ministry

Lie to me, baby

Maybe we are just a little too authentic in youth group?

Last night, our high school ministry night met. We were down a couple of adults and up a few students. Actually, the night felt right at that balance between “out-of-control” and “in control” that is some of the secret sauce of youth ministry.

As I struggled to push my table group through a Bible study they clearly weren’t interested in I was feeling a little heart tug in a couple of directions:

  • I need to push these students through this study on Psalm 19, this is God’s Word… and David was describing some really cool stuff they need to know.
  • I need to pull the plug and call an audible. There’s something serious going on that’s more important than Psalm 19 right now.

Instead, I decided to just let it ride. We half-pushed our way through and half-let them stay easily distracted and unsatisfied. I resisted the urge to either side.

I’ll never know if I did the right thing or the wrong thing. But I do know I came home deflated and frustrated. Again.

Another time, another place

I’ve been thinking a lot about the purpose of Tuesday nights in our group’s life. On the one hand, we want to “keep it real” and be authentically who we are. But my problems aren’t their problems. And my students already deal with more crap than they can work through in a lifetime. So I’m not sure “being authentic” about a lot of stuff is very helpful.

Nearly all of my students have spent some time in foster care. Nearly all of my students have at least one member of family member who struggles with drug addiction. Only 1-2 students have a dad in their lives. More than half have experienced some level of physical or sexual abuse. Most scrape by academically.

At 15 years old most of them have lived a lifetime of grief.

At the same time they deal with all of the normal pressures, temptations, realities, and burdens of being a high school student.

They don’t want to keep it more real. They want to keep it less real.

Maybe instead of dealing with the realities of life… Tuesday night should be an escape from all of that?

When you desperately need a new life “being authentic” just feels like you get dragged back into the quick sand you’ve just escaped.

A little less authenticity replaced with a glimpse of Fantasia?

Maybe Tuesday night would be better if it were kind of an other world experience? A healthy escapism? A place that intentionally disoriented students from their own reality and allowed them to escape to another reality for a night? A place in which at some point, on the way home, they questioned… was that even real?

Maybe youth group should be more of an escape? Sure, one on one or in small groups or in other high trust situations… we can go there and deal with that stuff. But when we gather as a large group I’m questioning the value of creating an authentic experience when a fantasy one is so much more desirable.

For discussion: I’ve used my own group as an example. But the reality is, youth ministry-wide, the pendulum has swung back and forth about youth group nights as a whole, about the youth worker being more authentic with their struggles, about sharing in small groups about life stuff vs. Bible study groups, etc. What do you think? Is it more useful for students to have a place of deep authenticity? Or is it more useful for students to have a place of escape to play, worship, and laugh?