8 Reasons I Need to Put My Phone Down during Meetings and Conversations

I admit my struggle here. I’m so accustomed to having my phone with me that I almost unknowingly and reflexively check it continuously throughout the day. I’m trying, though, to put it away during meetings and conversations. Here’s why:

  1. It’s rude to continually check my phone when talking to or meeting with somebody. Sure, emergencies sometimes happen – so I’m not arguing we never pick up the phone. I’m simply saying that we disrespect the person in the room if the people contacting us via email, text, or phone call always take priority.
  2. I know what it’s like to get frustrated when someone’s seemingly not paying attention in a meeting. Actually, it really frustrates me – but then I sometimes do the same thing. I need to make myself quit being a hypocrite.
  3. I listen better if I’m not focused on my phone. Only God can listen to more than one person at once and hear everybody perfectly. I can’t do that, even if I’m convinced that I can. My phone distracts me from listening closely.
  4. I need the reminder that the world won’t end if I’m not immediately available to everyone. The work of God really does go on – and it goes on fine, actually – even if I’m not immediately responding to every email chain or following every tweet. 99.99 percent of the world isn’t worried about my conversations.
  5. Ministry is primarily about dealing with people face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball, heart-to-heart. I realize that we do a lot of ministry via text, email etc., and I’m not denying the value of those approaches in our electronic world. I am saying, though, that a person sitting in front of us in a meeting or discipling encounter deserves our undivided attention.
  6. If I’m honest, I sometimes turn to my phone when the meeting is tough to endure – and that’s wrong. Maybe I’m just tired, and I need help staying awake. Or, frankly, some meetings are simply more exciting than others. I need to learn to pay attention better without resorting to looking at my phone.
  7. I need to be ever aware of my tendency toward idolatry. If I turn to my phone so regularly that I literally cannot walk away from it, I’ve just identified an idol. Ouch. 
  8. It’s time I listen to my wife. So, here’s a confession: my sweet, gentle, loving but observant wife has more than once quietly whispered to me during a conversation with friends, “Put your phone away.” She’s right—as usual.

Any thoughts that you would add? 

7 Comments

  • Bill Cochran says:

    Guilty! I find my phone all too often distracts me from God and many times in the midst of seeking the “things of God.” It regularly dings, or rings, or “tones” just as I begin to pray! I’m often too connected to my phone and the world… distracted… diverted… or all too often voluntarily dismissing “the moment(s)… only to realize after… the “moment” is gone! I console myself, rationalizing my choice as necessary. Someone or something needs my immediate attention. Indeed! It’s more often than not… NOT the phone… but the very thing I abandoned to answer it.

  • Bill Pitcher says:

    Probably because I’m an old guy and resisted things like social media and texting until forced to do so when people quit answering phones and emails, I can resist–though often don’t. I try to leave my phone on silent when I’m with people, taking a break only once every hour or so to check messages and deal with important things.
    It works for me–usually; but it’s so easy to slide into the instant response mode.

  • Joe Guarino says:

    Even before cell phones, I referred to landline phones as “lifus interruptus.” My kids will tell the many times I would say at the meal table, ” I don’t care if it’s the president or the pope. We’re not answering it.” You just plain have to exercise the discipline to focus on the live humans in front of you, rather than the ones who’s names you don’t know as you feel that vibration or hear that familiar tone.

Leave a Reply