WHO WILL YOU SERVE?

By Deb DeArmond

I made an odd typo recently while emailing a friend. I typed, “web serving” when I meant “web surfing.” Or maybe I hit a wrong key and auto correct changed it. I’m not sure which. But when I looked back, there it was.

Stopped me in my tracks.

Web serving. Bowing at the altar of the cursor. Worshipping the almighty Google. Singing the praise of Pinterest, fawning over Facebook. Sounds melodramatic, doesn’t it? I admit that it does. But it did make me think.

One of the dictionary definitions for serve is “to worship somebody or something.” Worship is defined as “Great devotion.”

Okay, so that’s a bit close to home for me.

I’m not sure I have ‘great devotion’ for all things electronic, and it’s not an object of worship. But I do like it. I use it for work. I stay in touch with friends serving the Lord in Nepal and Madagascar. I’ve reconnected with former classmates. I conduct my business at home, in an airport or hotel – wherever I can plug in and power up.

That’s not bad stuff.  But recently while working on a project, I glanced at my desk. There was a laptop computer, an iPad, and an iPhone (which provided the web connection), all in use. Bluetooth speakers and keyboard, too. All at the same time. A bit excessive? Perhaps.

My concern is simple: am I using this stuff in a way that serves me? Or am I allowing it to take a bigger chunk of my life than it deserves? Is it connecting me with others, or has it replaced my chance for real interaction?

I’ve spent more than 25 years helping others build communication skills. The bright, motivated and well-educated people I meet who struggle to communicate effectively dismay me. Every week I hear stories of employees who email one another even though their offices are side by side. Everyone has a cell phone, a laptop, and many add an iPad or tablet computer so they are never out of touch. Is touch really the right word?

How often have you seen a group of people in a restaurant, each with their focus and their fingers devoted to their electronic device? It happened today, a family seated nearby with two small children, each with their own tablet, phone or handheld game. No conversation. No moment to thank the Lord for the food. They could have been mistaken for four isolated eaters who happened to wander in and sit down together. Time lost. Time they’ll never get back.

Families text to share info, set up holiday plans, and discuss ideas for birthday gifts. Facebook has come a platform for feuding family conversations or to express dissatisfaction with co-workers or the boss—with a worldwide audience. Electronic Christmas cards.  Is anybody still having real authentic conversations? Face to face, or at least voice to voice?

Even churches reach out to broadcast their services. It’s a great way to reach the unchurched. It’s an effective tool, allowing you to worship in our own living room and if you are ill or unable to attend with your spiritual family, it’s a great way to receive teaching of the Word. But God wants us to come together for this purpose when possible.  Hebrews 10:25 makes that clear: “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near,” (NLT).

How is this related to those of us 50+? There are two important things to think about. One, to embrace, and the other, to avoid.

  • Learn to use new tools. I chatted with a grandmother recently who complained she never receives replies to the letters she sends to her grandchildren, now teens living across the country. “They text, and tweet, and use that Facebook thing,” she said.  “My granddaughter said she’d ‘friend’ my Facebook page. Ridiculous.” Grandma’s comfort level with electronica is limited, but it’s how her grandkids communicate. Learning to use it can help her stay in touch. My mother-in-law, at 81, emails and Facebooks regularly. She stays in touch with a Swedish cousin she’s never met (but who found her through the Internet) and she  is connected, daily, with to the lives of her kids and grandkids. She posts pictures, (and enjoys theirs), weighs in on their activities, and has insight to know how to pray for each of us. Very cool.
  • Don’t let yourself become isolated. We need to stay connected to others, really connected.  Text and email can’t replace the depth and richness of conversation. And it’s easy to choose convenience and comfort over the gift of authentic interaction. Next time you begin to check in with a friend via text, place a call instead. Make plans with friends to meet for coffee or lunch. Suggest a walk with a neighbor or set a time to see co-workers after quitting time. Loneliness doesn’t happen all at one time; it’s cumulative. A declined invitation  or skipping Bible study on a drizzly day becomes habit. Isolation creeps up on us.

I’m guilty. When the alarm (on my phone, of course) goes off, the first thing I do is scan my email and text messages. It’s time for a change.

I’m determined 2014 will become the year I put the iPhone down (more often) and step (a little further away) from the laptop. It won’t be easy—but it’s definitely worth it! Anybody want to join me?

 

 

Deb DeArmondDeb is an author, speaker and entrepreneur. Her first book, Related by Chance, Family by Choice, will be released in November 2013, and tells the story of two women who love the same man: mothers and the girls who marry our sons.

Deb is wife to her high school sweetheart, Ron, who showed her the path to become a Christ follower 40 years ago. Mom to three incredible sons. Gigi to three perfect grandboys. But Jesus is her favorite, and the guys have learned to live with it. She is a transplanted Californian who has been a proud Texan for 9 years.

She is optimistically mid-life and excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. She longs to see experienced women find their passion and place in the body of Christ, show up and finish strong. “

 

 

3 Comments

  1. 1-13-2014

    I’m in, Deb. Both ways: I need to learn more about newer items of electronica (GREAT word — did you coin it? — please say yes — otherwise I’ve fallen way behind in my with-it vocabulary — again)and I also need to make more phone calls instead of texting and have more coffees and lunches instead of phone calls and blog-commenting. (Let me know when you’re free!) The Lord made us for fellowship and community; we can’t afford to let followship and convenience-ty dim the light He wants others to see in us. Thank you for the reminder.

    • 1-13-2014

      Kathleen – so great to hear from you! Even if it is electronic! We must get together soon. I’ve been running at a mad pace that should slow down some in a couple of weeks. Let’s make a date!

  2. 1-14-2014

    Deb, this was such a gooooood read. I have realized how fragmented I have become at the hands of technology. God is working on me here so your post was right up His alley. P.S. My Grammy turns 93 at the end of this month. She e-mails me daily and has now learned how to use an iPad and an iPhone. When she whipped out her iPhone at lunch (I was in CA for Christmas) she looked so hip. Ha!

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