Who do you really serve, the answer might surprise you!
How do you serve God Faithfully?
Last week while I was researching this article “who do you serve,” I watched from a distance and was absolutely astonished at what all my wife does as a stay-at-home mom. From the moment she woke up she jumped right to work getting our sons ready for school, dropped them off, and stopped to get groceries. From there, she barely had time to put the groceries away before she was off again to pick up our youngest son, then came home to start dinner before she was off to pick up our oldest son. While I was at work, she was doing the family budget, putting Charlie down for a nap, creating a presentation for her Christian mothers’ group, and then off to coach t-ball practice.
By the time she gets home from practice, she is doing baths, editing our upcoming Christian photography book, and had just enough time to shower while I put the boys down for the night. All that to say, Kathleen had about an hour left in her day to watch a little TV with me before we went to bed, read our Bible devotions and go to sleep. All that, just to start the process all over again the next day. So first off, God bless stay-at-home moms! But it started me wondering, how can we even find time to do anything for God when our lives are so hectic?
How do you serve God Faithfully? Our Reality Check
A recent study estimates that the average adult watches four hours of television per day. This includes your TV, phone, tablet, etc. I doubt Kathleen has four hours in her day for anything, but that is an estimate for most Americans. That would assume that in an average week, we consume 28 hours of digital entertainment. It seems like a lot, but between the news, social media, YouTube, television series and movies we could probably say we easily spend 28 hours a week in our digital, vegetative worlds.
How long would you say the average Christian spends in worship, prayer, and studying God’s word? If you go to church on Sunday morning, then you probably attend at least an hour and a half. Wednesday night services could be roughly the same. But then how long do we spend in prayer and study? Volunteering at the church? Discipling others? If we add up the time we dedicate to God and it isn’t in the ballpark of our time spent with digital media, we might need to reevaluate where our dedication really lies! And the secret to success is much easier than we would think!
How do you serve God Faithfully? Let’s evaluate: Who do you serve?
If you want to be unpopular in America, just make people feel guilty about watching TV, right? Well, that is not the angle we are taking here. Believe me, if my television watching was a bell curve, everyone would know exactly when baseball season starts and ends. So, there is no judgement here. What we are trying to convey is how digital media effects our Christianity. I challenge you to evaluate yourself, using the questions in the next section to see what the true focus on your life may be. If it is God, then I will happily say I wrote a needless article.
However, if your focus is your phone, television, social media, etc. then this is a point where we can realize what we have all come to know; that digital media can slowly change the way we see the world and creeps in to take over our lives. It isn’t our fault, that is what it is designed to do! But once we recognize it, we can incorporate small changes to start realigning ourselves with God. Digital media can easily become the simple form of entertainment it should have always been in the first place.
First, read the questions below and answer them truthfully to yourself. Then we will discuss the secret to a life dedicated to Christ in the digital age. That means you won’t be required to join the clergy or fast your smartphone, the answer is much easier than that. I’ll even share our answers too, just for fun!
How do you serve God Faithfully? A self-Assessment
- When you get a free moment to yourself, what is typically the first thing you do?
- Jon: I grab my phone and check my favorite apps
- Kat: Reach for my phone, normally games
- When you are with friends, do you discuss your faith or digital media more? (TV shows, sports, etc.)
- J: Faith and photography unless it’s Atlanta Braves season, then I definitely talk sports more.
- K: Faith comes up but not as often as it should, so I mostly talk about kids.
- When you are in church, are you thinking about things from a TV show or check your phone for social media updates?
- J: No. Kat and I made a promise to each other not to use our phone in church for personal reasons. So, if I am on my phone in church, I am writing down Christian blog ideas, responding to questions or looking at my Bible app.
- K: No. Church I am normally pretty good about my phone in church.
- When you are watching TV, do you think about God?
- J: Sometimes, but not always. Depends on how much I like the show and if I am on my phone too!
- K: Sometimes I do get convicted about what I am watching, so I would say yes, but it’s not always the priority.
- Who gets the majority of your time, digital media or God?
- J: God gets a majority of my time now but hasn’t always been that way. Researching and writing Christian blogs is very time consuming!
- K: God hasn’t always been first, but I have been balancing that time better lately.
- Do your friends know your favorite TV show or sports team?
- J: Most definitely!
- K: Go Braves! (So, yes)
- Do your friends know your involvement in church?
- J: Close friends do, but I could do better with more distant friends.
- K: Yes, definitely.
- Emotionally, what moves you more? Praise and worship or a good movie?
- J: Both, but church is deeply emotional where movies are more surface.
- K: Both move me, but nothing is like praise and worship; it’s much more frequent.
- Can you quote more movie lines than Bible verses?
- J: Yes, I most definitely can. I am horrible at memorizing Bible verses.
- K: I know more from the Bible but can’t always tell you the exact verse.
- Would you say there is a certain movie or TV show that helped define you as a person? Has God had more of an effect on you than that?
- J: Yes, I was heavily influenced by the show Friends, but who I am today was shaped by God.
- K: Yes, Frasier defined me by going into Psychology. But God has always been my center.
- Do you schedule your time around God, or around digital media more?
- J: God. I just try to catch TV or play on my phone when I can but don’t really schedule it.
- K: Media is just when I get a moment, but it’s not scheduled. But my daily time with God is very scheduled.
- Does your digital media and faith overlap? Watching sermons, documentaries about Christianity, etc.
- J: Yes, I feel God in nearly everything I do and take a step back if he isn’t.
- K: Not as much as it should, but sometimes.
The easy path to change
Of all the questions, I really want to focus on the last one. Why? Because the point of this article is not to make you feel guilty about your smart phone or television watching. It’s incorporating God into the things you like to do. It’s seeing God in everything that makes you who you are. Sometimes that means looking at the television shows we watch to see if we really should be watching that show. It may mean being active in social media but perhaps answering with our Christian values in mind. But overall, it’s incorporating God in everything we do. Then it’s not about 4 hours of TV as much as 24 hours of God.
We aren’t here to remove our way of life; we are here to make God the Center of everything we do. But we all need to evaluate if we are consuming or being consumed by digital media. It is a great way to reach out to people and have something in common, but this could also open the door to help disciple others. We enjoy digital media, but we serve God. We are here on Earth for a purpose, His purpose. I will give you my personal example.
Example from my life
When I first started professional photography, it was my everything. I dreamt about camera settings because it was the only thing on my mind at the time. Working with models, conducting photoshoots, and eventually doing gallery exhibits and publications. I remember being so focused on photography that everything became MY victory. I took each achievement as my own. And with that, I had difficulty entering a room because my enormous head wouldn’t fit through doorways. If asked, “who do you serve,” I would have had to say, myself.
But then I was setting up for a sunrise shoot and saw the colors of the sky right before the sun could be seen through the trees. For some reason, out of nowhere, I felt shame. Shame for focusing on myself, shame for the path I had taken in fine art, and shame for not having God in my mind as I did it all. Now when I am asked who I serve, I can say, Jesus.
Closing it up- here is the moral and secret
The pictures I took that day were used to start our Faith-inspired photography, Seven11, and I have never looked back. One of the pictures, shown at the beginning of this article is now a multi-internationally published and exhibited photograph and has inspired countless photographs by other photographers since it was taken. I didn’t have to give up photography, I just incorporated God into what I love to do and have never been happier. The shame is long gone, and a sense of pride and humility overtakes me now. Pride in what God has achieved through Seven11 and humility in how much further we have gone with God leading the way.
So now when someone asks you “who do you serve,” you can answer with confidence. Don’t stop doing what you love, just invite God to join you and let him lead you to an amazing new frontier. Even watching TV, God can be in your mind and on your heart teaching you new things and leading you to new places. As the song says, “Put Jesus at the Center of it all.”