The Dangerous Distracted Christian

These days it seems like everybody is talking about distraction. Newspaper and magazine articles warn about the dangers of constant distractions like Facebook, email, text messaging, and cell phone calls. And I’ll admit, I’m a distracted guy. My phone is buzzing all the time, emails pile up in my inbox, and Facebook allows me to always see who is eating what for dinner. It’s pretty easy to be distracted.

I think we’d all agree that being distracted is generally not a good habit. No one is going to argue with that. But are there any dangers specifically for us as Christians? I think so.

Specifically, I think that distraction can actually lead to selfishness. At least for me it can.

Think about it for a second. Every time that I pick up my phone to answer a text message or reply to an email, I’m taking my attention away from something or someone else. Sometimes this won’t be a big deal, like when I’m watching a football game or doing some other mindless task.

But many times, distraction takes me away from much more important things, like my family or my Bible. I’m playing with Charis. My phone buzzes. A new text message or email. Is it that important? No, not usually. But I feel this compulsion to answer, to pick up my phone, to see who is talking to me. I want to be current on things, to have information, to know what’s going on. Suddenly my attention is no longer on Charis, it’s on me. Selfishness has intruded.

I definitely don’t have this figured out. I don’t think we should all get rid of our cellphones and become monks. This is an issue that I’m going to keep thinking about and asking God for wisdom.

Because I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to miss the important stuff because I was fixated on a three inch screen.

  • http://twitter.com/darylhb @darylhb

    I totally agree with you, Stephen. Distraction is one of the greater evils of the day. What I try to do is be disciplined and organised, so when I have a quiet time I turn my phone off – because when I'm meeting with God how can I treat Him with less respect than I would treat someone I'm meeting for business?
    The same principle can be used in other areas of life, although it's not possible everywhere.

    It is, however, also important to note that specifically as Christians, often when we're discipling or pastoring people, we need to be available to them when they need someone to listen, advise or hold them accountable. And those types of calls cannot always be seen as distractions; sometimes in the greater scheme of eternity they can be more important than the presentation we're putting together. So don't be too hard on yourself. :)

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      I appreciate the balance you presented here. You're right, there are times when I need to just shut my phone off. But there are also times when I need to be available. I'm just trying to find the balance between the two!