Why Turning Off Your Phone Could Make You a Better Pastor

Turning your iPhone off every once in a while might just make you a better pastor. (iStock photo)

I'm a really connected person and a huge advocate for pastors staying connected online. That might make this next advice seem a little out of left field. Still, I think it is incredibly important.

We need to put our phones away every once in awhile.

My iPhone holds my life. It holds my calendar, my grocery list, my connections to friends, family, my wife, and my kids. It holds my photos, my games, and my ability to check the weather. It's how my congregation reaches me, how my staff is able to communicate with me, the way we get things done, and take care of the people who need us. When I don't have my iPhone, when I'm unable to be reached, it feels like the world is going to fall apart, either mine or everyone else's.

But every once in awhile, and certainly more than our once-a-year God vacation, we need to get away. We need a chance to unplug, to turn off our email, and to focus on the real life things that are actually the most important, the things our phone and our busy online lives often distract us from.

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And even more importantly, we need to get over the idea that the world will fall down if we're not holding it up.

It's easy to believe God is able to work through us when we're present, available, and working as hard as we can. And in some ways that's true. But it's tempting to believe God is only able to work in the lives of our congregation when we're present, available, and working as hard as we can.

This idea makes it nearly impossible to step away.

But stepping away is exactly what we need to do to realize that God is the one making everything happen, not us. It's a necessary humbling experience to turn off your phone for the weekend, and to come back on Monday only to realize that everything was just fine, great even.

And it's then that we are free to refuel when needed, that we can take time away to focus on the things that really matter, and that we can work freely understanding that God is the one carrying the weight of the world, not us.

So here's your dare for the weekend: unplug. 

Tell your staff, or your congregation, or your assistant that you're checking out for the weekend (which might be Friday and Saturday). Turn your phone off, or on silent, and stick it in a drawer somewhere. When you find yourself tempted to pick it up, or to check your email just for a second, don't. It's a discipline, certainly, it's a fast from technology—something that's never easy. But it's necessary, and God will bless it. He'll bless your desire to give up something that makes you comfortable in order to seek Him and spend time with your family.

And come Monday, while you may have a lot of emails in your inbox, you'll be able to tackle them with renewed energy and fresh perspective.

With more than a dozen years of local-church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership and MinistryCoach.tv, all while staying involved in the local church.

For the original article, visit justinlathrop.com.

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