Smartphones have revolutionized our society and teenagers find themselves growing up in a culture like none other the world has ever seen.
Although it seems like no big deal to most young people, their experiences today are vastly and dramatically different than those of anyone else in human history. One could argue that students today have more information, more options, more power, more ways to connect and keep up with others, more monitoring, more temptations, more expectations, and more pressure than any generation that has come before them.
As a pastor to students, my job is to guide them through the challenges of this new world. But what do I have to offer? I cannot guide them from experience. I didn’t have anything even close to a smartphone when I was in high school. The most helpful thing I have to offer is the truth of God's word. Thankfully, the ancient scriptures compiled in our Bible have a ton to say that directly applies to our modern lives.
Here are the top 10 biblical applications I have found to be relevant and essential for teenagers navigating adolescence amidst the many pressures and temptations that come with their phones.
10. A Christian teenager seeks to be transformed by God, not conformed to this world.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
9. A Christian teenager strives to become a humble and caring person in real life, not a self-obsessed, impressive-to-others person online.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
8. A Christian teenager is more concerned with serving Christ than winning the approval of people.
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.
7. A Christian teenager is content with the life God has given them and actively fights the temptation to compare and covet.
1 Timothy 6:6-9
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.
You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.
6. A Christian teenager is sensitive to the signs of addiction and refuses to become overly attached to their phone.
1 Corinthians 6:12
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.
5. A Christian teenager refuses to let their phone distract them from doing the hard work that God has called them to.
Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
4. A Christian teenager seeks joy and encouragement beyond screens by prioritizing face to face interactions with other Christians.
2 John 1:12
I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
3. A Christian teenager seeks to get rid of sin, not carry it around with them on their phone.
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
2. A Christian teenager refuses to waste their life looking at worthless things and instead seeks an eternally rewarding life through God’s word.
Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.
1. A Christian teenager uses their phone as a tool to faithfully carry out the ministry God has given them.
2 Timothy 4:1-5
I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: 2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
Which of these applications is the most helpful for what you're currently experiencing with your phone? Are there any changes you need to make today in order to be faithful to God's word? Who is helping you handle the challenges and temptations of life with a smartphone?