Addiction is rampant in our country. Many of us know it firsthand. Many of us have family or close friends dealing with addiction. And many of us are recovering from or dealing with our own addictions.

When we think of addictions, we think of the obvious: illicit drugs, recreational drugs, alcohol, opioids. But for those of us who don’t go near such vices, addiction is still a possibility.

WebMD recently released an article about ten surprising addictions. Now I know what you’re thinking, and I agree: the internet is not the place to go for medical advice. Does your back hurt or are you tired? According to webMD: DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! YOU MAY HAVE LUNG CANCER! So feel free to read the article with a grain of salt … DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! SALT MAY CAUSE YOUR …

Here are a few of the addictions they identified:

  1. Smartphones
  2. Caffeine
  3. Chocolate
  4. Shopping
  5. Exercise
  6. Social Media

I smile at that list because I engage in all those. OK, so maybe I chase the caffeine and chocolate a little more than the exercise. I’m guessing many of those are your habits too. But are you addicted? Am I addicted?

Generally speaking, there are three flags pointing to addictive behavior

  1. Control. You aren’t in control over the amount and frequency of the habit.
  2. Compulsion. You experience craving and compulsive use of the habit.
  3. Consequences. You continue to use in the face of adverse consequences.

I’m guessing you looked at those flags and said, “Nope, that’s not me.” I did. But let’s drill down on the two most common addictions on that list: smartphones and social media.

  • Ever leave the house without your phone and feel “naked?”
  • Ever wonder how we got along before the days of smartphones?
  • Ever feel the urge to peek at your phone even once at a restaurant, in a meeting, or—gasp!—at church?
  • Do you check your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account multiple times a day?

How you answered those questions does not necessarily point to addictive behavior. At the least, though, these questions show how integral our phones have become to our daily lives. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Smartphones allow us to work … well, smarter. For one, I never get lost anymore. I find ministry enhanced by quickly contacting people or responding to their messages. I’ve used social media to query people about an issue/question in an upcoming sermon or Bible study. We can do a lot of good with our phones and social media.

But we can also let it rob us of our time. One more game … five more minutes on Pinterest … one more meme … one more post to read from Lynn Pryor …

A meme has recently been popping up on my social media feed:

A lot of people respond, “Duh … yeah.” But apparently, two million bucks was not a big enough enticement for some, because this meme followed:

Money is an easy incentive, but it reflects our love for money is greater than our love for Pinterest and Netflix. But would you give up social media for a year if God wanted you to?

You’re deeply spiritual, so I’m sure you quickly said yes. But without God’s voice, would you give up your phone and social media for a year if you just sensed that action would greatly enhance and deepen your walk with Christ?

Let’s be honest. That’s a lot harder to answer.

Smartphones and social media can be good things in our lives, but they can rob us of greater things.

  • I’d love to see people engaged in conversation at restaurants without a single phone at the table.
  • I’d love to see parents interacting with their kids rather than allowing their kids to disengage with a video game.
  • I’d love to see more face-to-face interaction than online interaction.

I’m not God and I’m not going to ask you to bury your phone in the backyard. But let me offer you this challenge:

  1. Have your quiet time—Bible reading and prayer—before you ever get on social media. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit, infuse you with His love for others, and guide you as you interact on social media.
  2. Every single time you jump on social media—even if for “just for a quick look”—pray first. Pray for those with whom you’ll connect. Pray for Jesus to be seen in your responses.
  3. Spend five minutes less a day on Pinterest, a game, or whatever app you frequent a lot. Use that time productively. Read the Word. Pray. Read a book that will help you grow spiritually. Call someone and encourage them.
  4. The next time a church leader asks you to lead a group or help with a ministry project, think about all the time you spend on your phone or on social media. Don’t use the excuse, “I don’t have the time.” Say yes and discover the joy of investing face-to-face in the lives of others.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).

One positive thing you can do on social media is subscribe to this blog … or like our Facebook page. Hey, I only post twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays). And share this post with others.