I’ve mentioned on the blog before how I appreciate the Ask Pastor John Podcast. The format is simple: a listener sends John Piper a question and he answers it, pulling from the immense wisdom he has accumulated from his decades of preaching and pastoring. (If you’re looking for more podcast recommendations, check out my friend Clay’s recent post.)
A recent episode of APJ was called “Why Not to Check Your Phone in the Morning“, in which John Piper shares six reasons we are prone to go to our phone first thing in the morning. Each of the six reasons are drawn from motives that can quickly become sinful and hinder desire to serve others and obey God:
3 “Candy” Motives
1. We love to take a bite of candy from our phones for our novelty hunger.
“We love to hear what’s new in the world or among our friends. What has happened since we last glanced at the world? Most of us like to be the first one to know something…”
2. We love to take a bite of candy for ego hunger.
“What have people said about us since we last checked? Who has taken note of us? Who has retweeted us, or mentioned us, or liked us, or followed us?”
3. We love to take a bite out of candy for entertainment hunger.
“There is on the internet an endless stream of fascinating, weird, strange, wonderful, shocking, spellbinding, cute pictures and quotes and videos and stories and links…many of us have gotten to the point where we’re almost addicted to the need of something striking, bizarre, extraordinary, or amazing.”
3 Avoidance Motives
1. The boredom avoidance.
“If there’s nothing significant and positive and hopeful in front of us to fill the hope-shaped place in our souls, then we will use our phones to fill that hole.”
2. The responsibility avoidance.
“Many decisions have to be made about our children, the house, the car, the finances…life is full of weighty responsibilities, and we feel inadequate…we are not attracted to this day at all, and we would like to avoid it.”
3. Hardship avoidance.
“You may be in a season of life where what you meet when you get out of bed is not just boredom or responsibility, but mega-relational conflict, or issues of disease or disability in the home, or friends who are against you, or pain in your joints…it’s just easier to lie there in bed with the phone.”
In my experience, these six motives (among others) apply across the board to our use of technology at all times of the day, whether you’re checking email during the day or surfing the web in the evening.
While checking your phone first thing may not seem like a big deal, it can quickly hinder our abilities to renew our minds in the Word and prayer. Even if you go to the Lord after the phone, keeping your mind focused on the Lord may be like loading a kid up with sugar and telling him to sit still and read. It’s doable, but it’s hard! As Piper said, “We have to remind ourselves about reality in the morning in order to love God and love people the way we ought.”
Instead of being drawn to the immediate (but short-lived) gratification your phone provides, warm your heart up to seek the Lord in prayer and through the Scriptures. Make your soul happy in Him first thing. He is the Bread of Life and supply of Living Water that will make our candy cravings seem unsatisfying and childish. He is the One who equips us to face the responsibilities and hardships of life. And He certainly isn’t boring!
You can listen to the full Ask Pastor John episode below: