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Smart Phones and Self-Governance

“The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control” (Gal.5:22) “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” (Prov. 25:28)   I’ve learned not to trust my friend – he’s like that “city with broken walls.” He says that he’ll be there for me, that he’ll follow up. But he…
By Seth Barnes
“The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control” (Gal.5:22) “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” (Prov. 25:28)
 
I’ve learned not to trust my friend – he’s like that “city with broken walls.” He says that he’ll be there for me, that he’ll follow up. But he doesn’t. He furthermore says he loves his family, but then he does stuff that deeply hurts them. My friend can’t self-govern.
 
But before you judge my friend, what about the gap between your intention and your behavior? For example, what does it say about you if you spend more time on your smart phone than you intend to? Yes, let’s assume it happens occasionally, but what if it becomes a habit for you?
 
It begs the question: Is it possible to set up your life so that it is governed by technology and still be self-governing?
 
My answer is “no.” To be self-governing implies that you are living by design. Your actions and your values are in sync. You are able to control your behavior (your decisions, moods, words and time-usage) based on your belief-system. 
 
Everybody has a set of values that they adhere to. Some, for example, may say that freedom trumps all values for them. But you have to compare that value with the way they act. If they are controlled by their smart phone, are they free? Their behavior may not be in line with their value system.
 
Alcoholics may say that they value their children, yet in a drunken rage may verbally and physically abuse them. Wife-beating husbands may plead, “I promise, I’ve changed. I’ll never do that again.” But their actions contradict their beliefs. What is a wife to believe, her husband’s words, or her lyin’ eyes?
 
What about when your belief system is unclear or where two of your values pull in opposite directions? For example, what about when you say you value your friends, yet you spend more time on your smart phone than with them?
 
Or what about people on a mission trip intending to show the love of God to those in need who are absorbed in their smart phones? They may use the phrase, “I’m an adult” implying that a mission agency shouldn’t control their behavior. They can be trusted to do the right thing. But can they? Adults self-govern. Adult behavior implies self-control. 
 
The issue should spark some self-examination:
  • Do you find yourself checking your smart phone during lulls in a conversation?
  • Do you spend a lot of time looking down at your phone?
  • Do you struggle with staying present?
  • What would it look like for you to put your phone away for a week? 
So, how are you in this area? Ask your friends and family – what will they say about your engagement with your smart phone? What will they say about your ability to self-govern?
 

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