Most people we know (including ourselves) spend too much time with our faces buried in screens. Pastors fall prey to the lure of the smartphone for the same reasons, but with nuances.
It’s no wonder that pastors said in the latest findings from Lifeway Research that one of the areas of their lives that needs to be addressed is time management (51%). I can’t help but think technology addiction is part of this issue."It’s no wonder that pastors said in the latest findings from @lifewayresearch that one of the areas of their lives that needs to be addressed is time management (51%)." — @benmandrell Click To Tweet
As Rich Villodas talked with Lynley and me on the topic of emotional health in ministry, I couldn’t help but think about the role technology plays in the burnout of pastors.
They have serious FOMO.
Any time you’re leading a church or an organization, you’re on high alert. This can often create feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out). In one way, this is how it should be; you’re shepherding people, your responsibilities are many, and you don’t want anything to slip through the cracks.
But then the ding or the buzz comes through. You look at your phone and see the name of a church member or someone on staff. Then comes the adrenaline rush when you open it to find out what they’re going to say— to give you the latest on what’s brewing with a ministry that’s had issues or if they’re going to ask to go to coffee or lunch because they really need to talk with you about something."The ding or the buzz comes through. You look at your phone and see the name of a church member or someone on staff. Then comes the adrenaline rush when you open it to find out what they’re going to say." — @benmandrell Click To Tweet
It could be anything, really. The possibilities are endless! And responsiveness is the name of the game.
There is something to being responsive. We care for people. We value kingdom work. And we want to be diligent about those things. It was often hard for me to resist the urge to figure out how to respond to someone as soon as they texted or to providing input right away on a situation because I felt the ministry was going to crumble if I didn’t have a hand in everything.
We must implement healthy rhythms in our use of technology. Besides, you probably don’t expect immediate responses to everything from others. And they don’t expect it of you.
They crave affirmation.
I once heard someone call pulpit the “glory bubble” for pastors because it’s the place where they get the most praise and outward expressions of appreciation. On Sunday afternoons it was common for me to have my phone handy to catch affirmation rolling in from that morning’s sermon.
Some Sundays held more affirmation than others. The Sundays I hit a “home run,” I got so stoked that I wanted to repeat it the next week and the week after that (that’s not possible, by the way). And on the days I got less affirmation, I would begin to analyze my sermon—play it over and over in my head, asking myself how I could have made a clearer application or connected more deeply with the congregation.
This is unhealthy. First, the affirmation we seek can put us in the mindset that we’re the change agent rather than the conduit of change. We buy the lie that just because the praises are scant that the Lord somehow didn’t work through the teaching of the Scriptures."The affirmation we seek can put us in the mindset that we’re the change agent rather than the conduit of change." — @benmandrell Click To Tweet
Second, our families suffer. Those Sunday afternoons I spent glued to my phone waiting for the “atta boys” robbed us of quality time together. I might have been in the same room, but I wasn’t present.
Pastors: Make a commitment to set rhythms that keep you connected with the world, your community, and your church (you’re called to it!). But don’t let the brightness of that screen dim your relationship with the One who called you.