so when the three oldest kids and a bunch of their friends and I met Jefferson Bethke — he knocked us all over with this brilliance, humour, and genuine care and warmth. I couldn’t esteem or appreciate this guy more. He’s the kind of guy you want in your faith community, down your street, hanging out around a campfire with his wife and baby girl being real and sharing real Jesus. Jefferson has that compelling story of overcoming a painful childhood of poverty and a broken home, and this gives him a unique perspective on the grace of God and the work of Jesus in his life and the lives of others. It’s this perspective that has catapulted him right into the national conversation regarding religion and spirituality, allowing his message to connect at a heart level with an audience ranging from atheists to nationally recognized faith leaders. Jefferson is quick to acknowledge that he’s not a pastor or theologian, but simply a regular, twenty-something who cried out for a life greater than the one for which he had settled. Along his journey, he discovered the real Jesus, who beckoned him beyond the props of false religion. It’s an absolute crazy grace to welcome him to the farm’s front porch today…
I t’s sad that today it’s normal for you to be at a restaurant with friends and you start talking only to make eye contact and realize the person sitting across from you is staring down—em>looking at their phone.
There’s a quick strike of insecurity and disappointment that you just talked to thin air, not another person.
Why? Because they weren’t in the present world, but a digital one.
One of the scariest things I don’t think we think about enough is that we have a tiny little machine in our pockets at all times that gives us access to a limitless world.
Unfettered access to anything.
And that’s exciting.
Sometimes more exciting than a meal with a friend, striking a conversation with a stranger in the grocery store, or leaning into hard conversations because they are awkward—or so we think.
What if our devices are actually killing us?
What if they are actually altering our very makeup and brain chemistry, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to say they are changing our humanity?
When something is as powerful as the world in our pockets we have to sit in that with weight, responsibility, and serious reckoning.
What’s worse is because of it — we can’t find healing.
We are broken, fragmented, cropped, and edited to death.
We never stop and pause.
Because healing comes from vulnerabilty. From coming out of hiding. From taking off the mask. Leaning into to a awkwardness. And that just doesn’t happen when our phones are out.
In a recent pew study they found that 82 percent of adults felt that the way they used their phones in social settings hurt the conversation.
Which means that 8 out of every 10 adults are willingly admitting their conversations are hurting because of how they use and engage with their phone.
Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor, is arguably the world’s leading scholar on how technology affects our humanity and relationships highlights the problem,
“In a conversation among five or six people at dinner, you have to check that three people are paying attention — heads up — before you give yourself permission to look down at your phone.
So conversation proceeds, but with different people having their heads up at different times.
The effect is what you would expect: Conversation is kept relatively light, on topics where people feel they can drop in and out.”
No one finds healing in a conversation where people feel they can “drop in and out.”
They find it in the trenches. The messes. The hard parts. The painful parts.
Honestly, I’m not sure I have some huge revelation or answer to this problem — I just know it’s happening.
But what if the problem doesn’t need to be a huge revelation?
What if the answer is simple—put down your phone.
Set boundaries. Make rules. Leave it at home. Turn it off.
This has worked beautifully with my wife Alyssa and I.
Feeling the unhealthy pull of our phones, and having a 17 month old daughter who we knew would follow the culture we set in our home, we made boundaries. It doesn’t come out at any tables.
We take a day a week where we fully turn it off. Sometimes when we go somewhere I know it’s tempting to pull it out, so instead I just decide to leave it at home.
And you know what happens?
In those margins I’ve created, that my phone used to replace, we talk.
Sometimes it’s normal small talk — but sometimes it’s deep and healing and connecting and incredibly life giving.
And that’s what we were created for.
Dear World: You’ve Got to See This
Jefferson Bethke currently lives in Maui with his wife Alyssa and one year old daughter, Kinsley. He is the author of the NYTimes bestseller , Jesus > Religion and the just released: It’s Not What You Think.
When Jefferson asked me to write the forward for It’s Not What You Think: Why Christianity is About So Much More Than Going to Heaven When You Die — I could not wait to devour every page. Jefferson authenticates the real deal of Christianity. He tears back the worn canvas of religiosity and he unfolds for us the breathtaking meaningfulness and worth and value of authentically living with Christ. He hands you these pages: This is your own declaration of freedom. He makes you not miss the life-changing value of your declaration of freedom. Because who can afford to live a life of missing Him? We’re tired of missing Him. Dismissing Him. Belittling Him —– and living little. It’s time to look behind the cheap frame of things — because it turns out: It’s not what you think. It’s infinitely more.
I poured out a bit of my heart in the forward of It’s Not What You Think because its the one book I wish I could hand out to every wrestler this year. Absolute five star solid read.