iconoclastOver the last ten years, I’ve morphed into somewhat of a technology iconoclast. It’s not because I think all technology is bad. In fact, some technology—some being the operative word—can be a great blessing.

That being said, my journey to “get off the grid” started when we disconnected our satellite dish. We found that the hundreds of mediocre satellite and cable stations were a ridiculous waste of money, and we only watched a handful of them anyway. Plus, we discovered that we could get plenty of free HD stations by sticking an old-fashioned antenna on our roof. So my initial motives to cut back were not technologically driven—I just hated wasteful monthly bills.

However, while we didn’t have a computer or Internet access in our home, nor Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, I did have a smartphone. And as my “need” for this phone increased, I became more wary about the effect it was having on me.

It wasn’t long before my smartphone became the last straw. I started to question whether or not I could part with the device, the most seductive of all the technological gadgets. I mean, all pastors need the latest smartphone, right?

Well, for me, my phone had become a ball and chain, and it sure wasn’t making me feel very smart.

I admit, I might be the only one with such a problem, but this tiny computer mystified me. I thought the immediate Internet access was useful, but it often led me to waste time reading a dozen online newspapers that all featured the same stories. I regretted reading and sending “urgent” emails or texts in the middle of the night. And while I was never a “gamer,” I came to feel like a sluggard every time I fiddled with that gadget in my spare time.

Moreover, my heart started breaking whenever I saw parents shoving a screen in the face of their crying toddler or two young adults “having lunch” together at Applebee’s, but texting other people. It seemed like everywhere I looked, I saw people who were experiencing life through their handheld devices instead of enjoying life’s fullness firsthand.

Enough already, I said to myself.

And so, I decided to transition to a lowly flip phone. I realized that I didn’t need Internet access 24/7 because there is a computer in the Wilhelmus à Brakel Conference Room at Crossroad headquarters for me to use. In addition, there are rows and rows of computers in the library seven miles from my home. (After all, I’ve got to keep up with the latest prison news at www.cbi.tv and report those student scores!)

Now that I’ve switched over, I find my flip phone is so simple, and very smart. People who want to contact me can call. The phone has a calendar and an alarm clock so I don’t miss appointments, and even a little notepad so I can remember stuff. I can also answer emails when I happen to be near a computer.

That kind of simplicity is all I need, or want. To me, that flip phone is freedom.

My technological transition has also led me to think about how our small, daily priorities tend to reflect our greater priorities in life. In other words, I don’t want the smaller distraction of a smartphone to ever become a greater distraction from ministering to the next person in prison—one of my highest priorities.

Crossroad’s office volunteers set a great example for me when it comes to keeping my priorities straight. These dedicated individuals carve out time away from TVs, newspapers or whatever is that week’s “latest and greatest” thing to complete the tasks that keep the ministry running. And each task they complete, whether large or small, points to their greater concern for reaching God’s people in prison.

So when it comes to technology, I realize that my story doesn’t have to be your story. After all, as my technological history proves, I’m not exactly the savviest iPhone in the Apple store. But I, for one, don’t want my thoughts to be consumed by the latest device the market is pitching to me.

Rather, my prayer is that I can continually purge my life of anything that distracts me even in the slightest from fully serving Christ and fulfilling His work here on earth. Whatever that distraction looks like for you, may the Lord give you the strength you need to disconnect and let it go.

Dr. H. David Schuringa serves as the president of Crossroad Bible Institute.