Could you encourage your children to consecrate some screen time to God soon?
What if it mainly depends on your direct question to them today? Then a brief reminder again next week? And revisiting the idea again soon after that?
I’m not talking about anything heavy and theological here.
But if you plant the seed, your children can learn over time to devote a portion of their online screen time to Godly undertakings. They can pursue their own online activities with good, productive things—God things—in mind.
Your starting point is building awareness of their own productive or creative power. Then combine it with the power of your prayer.
Dedicating Screen Time to God
One morning as my son showed me his blueprint programming in Unity (a game engine into which he was depositing animations he had created), I heard myself praying “Lord, let the animation and programming my son is learning be for your glory. Keep leading him toward fruitful purposes. Enlighten the world with it.” It was an apprehensive cry of my heart.
Later that morning, I was inspired to start “No Little People,” a book by Francis A Schaeffer (Crossway). I read his description about how God used Moses’ staff to show him that God himself would be with him as he confronted Pharaoh. Schaeffer explained “Exodus 4:20 tells us the secret of all that followed: the rod of Moses had become the rod of God” (p. 22).
Lord, please let my son’s programming become the programming of God. Use it for your purposes.
Start with Prayer, then Ask A Question
Start with prayer. It may be vague, pleading, frustrated or clear and direct.
Then, when your children “play” with their technology, find an opportunity to ask a thoughtful question:
“That’s a neat character. Have you ever wanted to learn how to design characters?” (for your budding artist)
“I see you enjoy playing games. Have you ever considered programming them?” (for your budding programmer)
“This reminds me of that military movie we watched. Would you ever like to work on computers in the military?” (for your military-minded child)
“What is the main storyline here? Have you ever wanted to write and publish online, or maybe start your own blog?” (for your writer/reader)
“That (game object) would be fun to invent. Have you ever considered creating prototypes of your own inventions?” (for your budding engineer)
Ask a simple but probing question, like these above, adapted to your child. Ask it today or this week. Get them thinking about how they might see themselves using technology in the future. This is the beginning of showing them a path to consecrate some screen time toward fulfilling God’s purposes in their own lives.
God used Moses’ staff
Just as the rod was first used for destruction of the Egyptians, Schaeffer explained, it was also used to save the Jewish people at the Red Sea. Just as technology can be used in destructive ways, it can also be used in healing and helpful ways. Think of ways to encourage your child to make their screen time an instrument for their future. And broadly or specifically for the glory of God.
Think of ways to encourage your child to make their screen time an instrument for their future.
Moses’ stave was a dead piece of wood, Schaeffer points out. God used Moses’ staff mightily. A computer is dead until given life by human commands. And it can be given more compelling, positive life if you pray over those human hands. And if you encourage them to listen to God’s leading.
Consistently remind the youth in your life that their involvement with technology can inspire them to do what they believe satisfies God’s will for their lives.
Ways God Used Moses’ Staff
Schaeffer made other connections in this story of Moses. Specifically, he pointed out that Moses staff was used for each of these purposes:
- destruction (of Pharaoh’s Egypt, Ex. 7:17-20)
- assistance (when parting the Red Sea, Ex. 14:16)
- supplying needs (water in the desert, Numbers 20:11)
- protection (bringing military victory, Exodus 17:9)
Your children will be employed in fields in which technology is used (no field is untouched by technology). What might each of God’s purposes above look like then?
- to destroy – using creative destruction (through innovation) to introduce new/improved methods or products; to ameliorate life’s negative influences in support of positive ones. Kids can be especially creative and innovative.
- to assist – to learn specific technological skills that support and assist efforts in church, at school or home, or at a company they work for (or hope to work for one day). Video editing skills, for example, could be used for fluently communicating youth group events or aspirations.
- to supply – to use technology for entrepreneurial purposes, for ecommerce, for engineering that supplies solutions to problems. Maybe they could post their photographs for a good cause.
- to protect – to learn cyber security, to assist the military, to protect the health and welfare of needy populations through nonprofit work, to share the Bible with unreached people groups who need God’s word. Your kids can learn about the security needed to keep your own home network secure.
Screen Time An Instrument
Without direction, children may see technology as only entertainment. Moses’ rod became a greater rod to effect God’s purposes. Show your children how to think about technology as a way to effect God’s purposes too. To destroy negative influences, to assist, to supply, to protect.
Help your children see how technology is a tool—for healing and help, for offering something needed, or for valuable disruption and change. Help them imagine ways they can turn their involvement with technology (programming, art, software, videos, etc.) into technology for God.
“But as the rod of Moses had to become the rod of God, so that which is me must become the me of God. Then, I can become useful in God’s hands” (p. 25). And our children who have been called to use technology in their lives (and even those who use it outside a specific calling) can be taught to think in terms of how God would want that tool used.
Help your children learn how to consecrate some screen time to God. Then they may see more clearly how they “can become useful in God’s hands.”