Articles multitasking

Published on August 8th, 2006 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Bringing It All Together




This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Teens and Technology

The purpose of this post is to bring to your attention three points that encapsulate what I believe is an appropriate response to all that we have learned over the past several weeks.

Each of the last three installments have included examples from my own life of practical application. Today, I hope to define more clearly an appropriate mindset with which to approach the issue of multitasking. Here are three principles we need to remember:

1.) Christians Can’t Multitask

Of course I don’t mean that Christians should never multitask. Multitasking can often be useful and is truly a unique ability that God has given to man. But what I do mean is that Christians don’t have the option to do anything besides the one thing we have been called to do. Yes, we may do many different activities, but everything we do — what we watch, listen to, think about, etc. — falls under one all-encompassing activity: Representing Jesus Christ.

This means that the standard is not “Am I multitasking or not multitasking?” but rather, “How well am I representing Christ in His commitment to glorifying God?”

Christ lived His life with one purpose: to glorify His Father. And in 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul issues us the same challenge when he says, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). That means that whether we’re multitasking or not multitasking, the purpose of everything we do is to bring God glory.

The purpose of this series was to give all of us a framework with which to evaluate this prevalent aspect of modern culture in light of the question: “Does it glorify God?” By recognizing the pitfalls of multitasking we are more prepared to answer that question.

The truth is that multitasking almost always hampers productivity, stifles thought, and harms relationships. For these reasons we can answer that, “no,” multitasking hardly ever helps us glorify God.

However, the danger is that the lazy part of us wants jump on that to say, “No multitasking, ever.” It’s much easier to make a legalistic declaration than to continue asking the right questions.

But many, including myself, would be quick to point out that certain forms of multitasking have the potential in some situations to improve efficiency, raise levels of thought, and even increase interaction. Because of that we must take the harder road of not rejecting multitasking entirely, but of carefully evaluating each situation on its own merits.

2.) Consider What You’re Not Doing

“The problem [with the electronic movement],” says Edward Hallowell, author of the book CrazyBusy, “is what you are not doing if [it] grows too large. You are not having family dinner, you are not having conversations . . . you are not going on a family ski trip or taking time just to veg. It’s not so much that the video game is going to rot your brain, it’s what you are not doing that’s going to rot your life.”

Whether it is focusing on our work, thinking hard thoughts, or loving others with our attention, it’s what we’re not doing that suffers most from our generation’s obsession with media and multitasking. And the reason that we often fail to glorify God is not because what we’re doing is necessarily sinful (it may be completely harmless), but because we’re not doing something else that we could/should be doing.

Because of that our first consideration should not be, “Am I giving all of my IM conversations adequate attention?” but rather, “Is there something better I could be doing with my time?”

While all the perfect people who are reading this might only need to keep all of the important things they do from fragmenting their focus, the rest of us will probably find that many of the activities that hamper our productivity, stifle our thought life, and hurt our relationships are purely extraneous. When that comes to our attention we must have the maturity and humility to limit or eliminate those distractions.

3.) Take Technology Back

A common theme throughout our series on multitasking — specifically, media multitasking — is that our work, our thoughts, and our relationships are being degraded, not by technology itself, but by our unbalanced use of it.

Technology is not our problem. Our problems are a lack of self-control and a lack of vision. We are severely overusing the distractions of media and technology, yet woefully underusing the countless opportunities they provide.

Though nearly all of us have abused one of technology’s latest offerings — namely, online video — few of us have even begun to explore our new ability to produce and distribute quality video and/or audio presentations on the web, using nothing more than a computer’s built-in camera and microphone and a high-speed Internet connection.

Because the ability to mindlessly consume and aggressively produce exist within the same object — a computer — we shouldn’t say that technology is bad and then live without it. Every gadget has the potential to be used as a tool or wasted as a toy. Technology has and will cause the greatest crises of our generation. But it also has and will provide the greatest opportunities that any generation has ever faced for communicating truth to the entire world.

If there ever was an area where Christian young people should lead, technology is it. As rebelutionaries we have an exciting task — to show the world what new technology can really do when fused with character, competence, and truth. But it’s also up to us to show the rest of our generation what it can’t do, and that there’s life beyond the screen.

We won’t be able to do that if we’re just as distracted as everyone else. For that reason we must stand with the Apostle Paul — following him as he followed Christ — and throw off the weight and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with endurance the race marked out for us.

It won’t be easy, but it will be good.


Series Navigation

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About the Author

are the co-founders of TheRebelution.com and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.



  • Great post! I especially appreciated you pointing out that it isn’t the technology that’s bad, just our improper use of it.

    As for myself, I have found movie watching to be my most convicting area, and it was pretty much a gift from the Lord when the DVD player ion my laptop broke! =P Every time I watched a movie I could hear a voice inside my head saying “If you would have spent FIVE MINUTES of those last two hours in prayer instead of being merely entertained, it would have been worth infinitely more. It would have made a difference for eternity.”

    Thanks for the well-balanced series!

  • Connecting multitasking with self control and lack of vision is quite an insight! Gives much to ponder. Thanks for a great series of posts.

  • Wonderfully put Brett. I especially like point number two. One thing I’ve always been taught, is that for everything you say “yes” to, there’s a corresponding “no”. What are we missing (a.k.a not doing) by spreading ourselves too thin.

    God bless bro!

  • Thank-you Brett, I am actually a bit behind on the series and still reading the second one. I started backwards and read the third one first. But then I decided to start from the beginning and go from there.

  • Sarah

    Great post, Brett! It summed up all the others perfectly.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    Sarah R.

  • Bentley

    This has been great, Brett. I really appreciate your emphasis on the heart of the issue–that Christ’s glory is our ultimate goal. I also agree that there is a balance. Multitasking is not evil in itself and while the ability to multitask actually happens to be one of God’s gifts to man, I think it is more specifically one of God’s gifts to women.

    By nature men tend to be more specifically focused in a particular direction, while part of the nature of women is to have a greater variety in objectives. To clarify, I’ll give an example: A mother is often required to do things like monitor several loads of laundry while mixing the bread dough and feeding a baby (not to mention taking a phone call now and then)–and she thinks nothing of it. These are the kinds of multitasking that are good and necessary for a greater goal: being a wife and mother.

    The important question is, “is this going to help me complete the job before me with excellence and to God’s glory or will it hinder me?”

    Thanks so much for this convicting series!

    ~heidi

  • L

    What a series! I have been having all sorts of feelings about technology lately, but these closing thoughts have helped me sort them out and get back on the right track. I just found this website and it’s one I’ll be sharing with my friends!

  • Thanks for this series, Brett. I’ve had a lot of the same thoughts lately, but it’s good to hear it from someone else too–hearing it from two people helps motivate me more!

  • Adrielle

    Great post, great series, Brett! Each post was both convicting and encouraging; the series was timely for me because I very recently acquired an Ipod and I am the first one in my family to have one. It is a blessing to learn from others’ experiences. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amen! Thanks for such a great and convicting post.
    Devorah

  • Wow! What a series. I’m guilty, and I didn’t even know I COULD multitask. Apparently I can, when it comes to unimportant things like internet surfing, card games, music, and IMing friends. Thank you Brett for writing about this and sharing your own personal experiences.

  • Excellent! Thanks for your well-measured words. :)

    “Technology has and will cause the greatest crises of our generation. But it also has and will provide the greatest opportunities that any generation has ever faced for communicating truth to the entire world.” Absolutely right! And I’m delighted to see you (and many others) rising up and taking initiative to do exactly that.

  • Rachel

    You can delete this later, but the links for ‘thought life’ and ‘relationships’ are broken.

  • Craig

    We must deviate to the norm??

  • Emily

    I really have appreciated this series, I just read it today. It’s convicted me to a higher standard of how I use my time! Thanks so much.

  • Micaela

    I know this is years late… but thank you so much for this beautiful series! It was both convicting and challenging. These articles will definitely be something I will refer back to again and again. God bless!

  • richard hockley

    thanks this has made me aware that i need to act in a godly manner

  • After I open up your Rss feed it appears to be a ton of nonsense, is the issue on my side?

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