July 2, 2013

How to Take a Digital Sabbath


I love my iPhone, iPad and MacBook. I am sure if you scanned your office, you could probably name a few digital devices that you too are also fond of. What would happen if those devices were gone? What would happened if you knew for the next 24 hours you couldn’t use them? Could you survive?

I think we all know that we could “survive” without our digital devices; however, there is still tension there when you know you might be apart from them. Have we become too attached to our digital devices? If so, how do we create some space so we can maintain proper perspective?

One way to keep perspective is go on a Digital Sabbath. A Digital Sabbath is where you take 24 hours and step back away from email, text messages, television or any other electronic device that gives you information (iPad, Kindle, etc.). With a Digital Sabbath, you give yourself time to reflect, listen to God and allow for some uninterrupted time with your family and friends. So how do you take a Digital Sabbath? Here are a few ways to get started:

Tell Your Church Staff About It

Before you take a Digital Sabbath, consider talking with your church staff first. Are there possible pitfalls to you being out of the loop? Are there ways to prepare your staff and church members for the fact that you are not going to be available? Including the staff not only helps you eliminate potential problems, it also helps them feel as if they are part of the Digital Sabbath as well.

Set Up Autoresponders

Go ahead set up your email to autorespond so that people know that you are not ignoring their email, instead you are taking some time away from your digital devices. If you have an Android phone, there are a few apps like SMS Text Auto Responder that will autorespond to your texts for you. (Sorry, iPhone users, you have to jailbreak your phone to get that functionality). Also go ahead and change your voicemail to let everyone know when they can expect to hear back from you.

Give Your Devices to Someone Else

If you are someone who thinks they might be tempted to cheat on a Digital Sabbath, think about having a family member or friend hold onto your devices. This also allows someone to check your messages for you to let you know if there is something urgent that needs your attention.

Find a Secluded Location

Find a place where you won’t be around people where digital devices will be prevalent. The less you are around other people’s devices, the less you likely will be thinking about checking yours. For me, I like to go to a park, the library or on take a long drive.

Find a Partner

Consider getting a friend or the family member to take a Digital Sabbath with you. In fact, think about taking the whole family on a Digital Sabbath. This might encourage conversations about how technology is not only affecting you but your family as well.

Document How You Feel

As you go on your Digital Sabbath, take a moment and write your thoughts down as the day goes along. This is a great time to reflect on how technology is shaping your life. Begin a dialogue with yourself about what needs to change and how to implement the change.

Advertise Beforehand

Before you start, think about publicly declaring that you are taking a Digital Sabbath. This will put some pressure on you to make sure that you live up your commmitment. Have some fun with it and start a countdown on Twitter or Facebook. You could even use a hashtag like #digitalsabbath to let people keep track of what you are doing.

I know for some of us this seems like a daunting task, but isn’t that really the issue here?  If we can’t take some time away from our digital devices, are we really in control? Maybe if we took one Digital Sabbath day, we could regain some of that control and even find some new meaning of the word “Sabbath.”

Do you a take Digital Sabbath?

CC Image • H Sterling Cross on Flickr
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