If you are like me and half of the population and have an iPhone, you may have noticed your “Weekly Screen Time” occasionally popping on your screen, with the most painfully annoying little breakdown of what apps you are spending your precious time on each week. It’s a little softer than a gut punch but it’s at least cringe-worthy when those numbers stare you in the face. Annoying numerical digits holding you accountable to exactly how many hours you have spent on Facebook, Instagram, or your latest app addiction the past week.
“What else could I have done with those hours last week?!” I always wonder. The number taunts me right to my face, and I wonder how to turn this particular notification off. Something as heartless as my phone using hard data to tell me how well I am stewarding my time feels a bit abrasive. I haven’t figured out how to silence it yet, so I assume God would like for me to feel the discomfort a little while longer.
Thanks to this uncomfortable information popping up right in front of my face each week, I have found myself asking over and over again, “Is what I am doing with my time honoring to God?”
Sorting through exactly what I am doing with my minutes and hours each day, I’ve been using honoring or not-honoring to label my choices. Waking up early and partaking of my Daily Bread by reading God’s Word? Yes, 100% of it is time well spent and honoring to God as I learn more of who he is. Jumping up after Bible reading for a work-out? Yes, I’m taking care of my temple. Spending the next several hours feeding, caring for, and home-educating my four precious babes? I don’t believe there’s a more important mission being asked of me at this time than that.
Raising my little arrows in our quiver and discipling them to be passionate Jesus-followers is absolutely honoring to God. Taking care of our home, tending to chores, serving my family? Yes, I am being a good steward of what God has given us and working on my servant-hearted attitude. Ministering to and discipling women with inviting them into my home? Yes, I believe time spent loving and serving others is definitely God-honoring…
But from there, my time spent gets a little hairy. Too many hours on Facebook and Instagram this past week?! An hour and a half on Chrome?! What was I even “Googling?” It obviously wasn’t important enough for me to even remember 7 days later. Netflix? How many hours? Basically, there was a lot of questionable time spent. Was that time spent beneficial to me? Better yet, was it honoring to God?
Paul said to the church of Corinth, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)
Yes, we have the right, it is lawful, we are allowed to do things like spending our time scrolling Facebook posts, that gorgeous Instagram feed, or binge-watching that crime show on Netflix. But. . . Do I, do we, “need” to spend our time in such pointless ways? How much of that time could be spent on things that were pleasing to the Lord? I could have spent some of my time one on one ministering to the hearts of my children with real “face-time.” I could have made and delivered a meal to a friend who I knew needed some help this past week. I could have invited a new family from church over to get to know each other better. I could have read a spiritually challenging and edifying book. I could have written and mailed notes of encouragement to friends who needed just that. When I stopped to calculate what else those hours could have been spent on, there was no shortage of things I could have done that ministered to the hearts of others. Instead, I chose time-sucks of no benefit in my life or the life of others. It isn’t even really rest. It’s just quietly letting the enemy convince me to sit this one out.
No, I’m not suggesting we delete all of our accounts in order to be God-honoring. I’m not suggesting that these things are evil or that you should never spend your time on them. I’m simply suggesting you and I ought to take a good hard look at that list of screen time data collected by our friend and foe, the iPhone.
I’m suggesting we ask and challenge ourselves, “Was I honoring God with my time the best that I could this week?” If I’m honest, I could answer that I do an okay job. I do spend much of my weekly time doing things that I feel are right in line with loving Jesus and loving others. But if I’m real honest? I know that while there are so many areas of life in which I try to cut waste, my time is an area I have purposely avoided looking closely.
I know I can do better about cutting waste from my time, I just don’t always want to. Dear iPhone, thank you for holding me accountable, just as a parent would their child with their screen time. I’m challenged and encouraged to do better. I want my minutes to matter.
Kayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with. Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop. She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family. Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength! She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot. You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.