I have heard the voice of Tony Reinke for years on the “Ask Pastor John” podcast and was not aware that he wrote a book. I heard of this book when one of my elders made a passing reference to it during one of his messages. I remember looking it up on my phone immediately and ordered it on Amazon not knowing exactly what to expect from this book. The book was published 10 years after the first iPhone came out. In a way, “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You”, is like a “state of the union” address on how the smart phone changed our society as a whole, particularly how it effects a Christian and their walk with the Lord.
This book is both insightful and convicting. I found myself laughing at some of his points (he makes some witty meta references to the reader) and completely convicted over his questions about the usage of smartphones. Tony made incredibly astute observations about how the smartphone changes a person and their walk with the Lord. The book is divided into twelve chapters to show the different facets of using a smart phone. Some are spiritual, while some others are social. The goal is to show how the smartphone changes every part of a person, both spiritually and physically.
Tony did a ton of research for this book. I find myself actually reading the footnotes to see where he got his findings. It’s fascinating to read about some of the research that people have done. There were a lot of helpful articles that prove his point on the potential dangers of overusing smartphones.
His discussion about people who create digital content or use social media was the most interesting part in this book for me. Tony gives a list questions to ask oneself when posting and creating digital content. Some of the questions that he asked made me wonder why I post the things I post on social media. It’s a good way for readers to do some self reflection on why we use our social media platforms (is it to glorify God, or to elevate self?).
There is a lot about this book that I can be thankful for. I am grateful for his openness about his own struggles with using a smartphone for work and how easy it is to be distracted by it. I believe he did a lot of soul searching and prayer to reach the conclusions that he did.
This book ends with a balanced perspective. His goal is not to fight for against the usage of smartphones, but rather how a Christian can better use the phone to love God and serve others. If a Christian is wise with their smartphone, it can be a great tool to help point people to God. On the flip side, the smartphone can be a means of great opportunity to cause yourself or others to fall into sin. This book is a call for Christians to be more discerning with their mobile devices.
If you ever wondered how you can better equip yourself in talking to someone who may be enslaved to the smartphone, or perhaps you yourself are convicted of using your smartphone too much but aren’t sure how you should think about it, this book is a great resource. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with smartphone addiction and in need of a biblical perspective on how a Christian should think through how to view their smartphone.
These are a few quotes that stood out to me:
“If you follow Christ, the world will unfollow you.” (74).
“Fundamentally, finding our identity is not just a matter of self-love but also of conformity.” (110).
“Technology does this—it makes us think we can indulge in anonymous vices, even conceptually, without any future consequences. Anonymity is where sin flourishes, and anonymity is the most pervasive lie of the digital age. The clocks of our fingertips reveal dark motives of our hearts, and every sin- every double-tap and every click- will be accounted for.” (133-134)