In his book Preaching in an Age of Distraction (Downers Grove: IVP, 2014), J. Ellsworth Kalas warns preachers of the personal and corporate danger of getting sucked into the culture of constant distraction.
He writes, “If our souls are adrift, multiplied other souls are in danger. So in a world of distractions, we are under special admonishment to keep our spiritual bearings. We are compelled, under God, to be selective in what gets our attention, because what gets our attention gets us—and what gets us gets the attention of numbers of other people who pay attention to us” (40).
Kalas does not think that preachers, in order to be good and godly preachers, must monkishly withdraw from the world of technology and distraction. To the contrary, he thinks our engagement in this world is an advantage for our ministries because in this way we feel the same pain and pressures and opportunities as God’s people.
But he does think that we must give special care to giving ourselves wholly to God and allowing him to set the agenda for our lives. When God takes his proper place, all other things take their proper places as well. And he does think that we must give special attention to what effects the use of technology et al. has on our souls.
For since we ourselves are not the fountain of truth and life, we can only minister out of the overflow of our relationship with God. If that relationship is thin and filled with distractions, our ministry will be superficial and harmful to ourselves and others. But if that relationship is primary and vital and growing, our ministry will substantial regardless of how many people God entrusts to our care.
So, my fellow preachers, let us listen to the wise counsel of this seasoned minister of the gospel and guard our souls against the dangers of monkish withdrawal, on the one side, and constant distraction, on the other. May the Lord help us as we seek to love him and carry out our ministries in a manner worthy of his Name.