Life is More Than Plants vs. Zombies

iPhone games are the best.

Angry Birds, Plants Versus Zombies, Infinity Blade, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run – the list of our favorite games to play on our phones could go on and on. It’s really convenient to pull out my phone and be entertained while waiting in line somewhere, or for a few minutes at home before we’ve got to saddle up to head out somewhere.

For a while, I was totally addicted to Angry Birds. I had to get all the versions of it – the original, Seasons, Rio . . . and just about when the Star Wars version came out, I took a step back. I realized that I was being engaged on my phone with flying birds attempting to kill the mean old pigs for stealing their eggs or whatever, but I was less and less engaged with the real world.

Time I had previously spent reading the news, praying, showing funny videos to my kids was now spent in this online world of birds, slingshots and laughing pigs. Moreso, time I had previously spent actually interacting with other people face to face was now being spent with a phone glowing in my face.

I still enjoy an occasional enemy vanquish on Infinity Blade, or slashing of flying fruits in Fruit Ninja, but I have made a concerted effort to utilize the down time and the waiting to take the time to laugh at my crazy dancing children, or communicate with people around me. Sometimes, those are complete strangers in a line, sometimes those are my children or co-workers.

As a youth minister, instead of teens showing me cool games on their phones while we were waiting for parents to arrive, I would intentionally steer the conversation towards what was going on in their world. When teens would show up early, I’d rather hear about their recent concert performance or big test triumph than about their high score on Temple Run. When teens are chilling in the youth office, I’d much rather push to hear about how Christ had been challenging their heart when they attended Mass than their favorite plants to cut down zombies with.

The little moments in youth ministry, in families, in work, and in the world can sometimes be missed with the distraction of our phones. Sometimes, we are just plain in an introverted mood and won’t be any good to anyone if we tried to chat anyway. But much of the time, we can be intentional about utilizing these moments to deepen real relationships or work on growing new ones. We don’t know when these down moments that provide real relationship building may come again – so let’s be more intentional with those moments.

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