Category Archives: Identity

ABC’s 20/20 “Digital Addiction” Review

Who are we without our cell phones?  I know I’m as guilty of cell phone addiction as my teenagers at times! Like for many, my phone is my calendar, to do list, reminder, notes, contacts, music, photos and a plethora of other apps, including of course social media. And while it is convenient, I admit, my phone often distracts me from fully-focused face time interaction!

In addition to cell phones and social media, an abundance of other electronics – in particular obsessive gaming among adult men – are contributing to our disconnected, disengaged selfie-society. To this end,  ABC’s 20/20 aired a “Digitial Addiction” special highlighting the seriousness of technology’s effect on individuals and families.  Reporter Elizabeth Vargas followed three families’ intervention stories with their family member so addicted to a device it was destroying their daily lives. Through interviews and video diaries, we the viewers were given the behind the scenes look at the individuals’ obsessive behaviors.

Considering my own research on technology use among teens, I’m rarely surprised by statistics on the topic. However, I was quite surprised by the dad so addicted to his video games that he had checked out from his family.  It actually gave me a scary glimpse of possible future realities for a generation of kids whose day-long and into the night playing is something we passively accept. For this dad, it was his unwinding time; his de-stressor. Well, that’s fine in its proper place, but he was leaving his wife to solely tend to their four young children all evening, every evening before she retreated off to bed alone.

In another family the teenage son’s gaming addiction kept him holed up in his room. He got angry and was disrespectful to his parents whenever they asked him to get off.  This in itself signaled another alarming trend with detrimental future consequences, and that is: entitlement. The 20/20 special didn’t hit on entitlement, but in not telling our kids “no” or laying down/enforcing rules we have allowed them to take the reigns of control that leads to a path of being controlled by their idols. (As I’ve fequently written, when anything is elevated to a place in our lives that rules or controls us, it is an idol.)

The third featured family was dealing with a teenage daughter’s phone addiction that included sexting strangers.  While sending inappropriate pictures is happening waaaay more frequently than most of us realize, the constant checking her phone, fear of missing out, staying on her phone well into the night and anxiety without her phone that could describe amost any teenager today. So it struck me  that what was dubbed as “extreme”  behavior has actually been accepted as normal.

None of these individuals realized (or cared) how self-centered and disconnected from their families they had become. So to help them re-engage relationally and sever dependence, a device detox was ordered. Many times this is absolutely necessary. My own daughter at times has deleted her social media. And quite frankly I think it’s needed for more parents to enforce limitations and restrictions on devices for their good and the good of the family.

But at the same time for true heart change, we must address the root behind the ruling idols and addictions. On the surface a cell phone or play station (money or material possessions) may appear to be the problem, but eliminating it from our lives doesn’t change the underneath desires that point to what really rules a heart.

To get there we need to ask probing questions. For instance…

  • Why did the girl have to have her  phone? Because of her fear of missing out and not wanting to feel disconnected.
  • Why was she so afraid of missing out? Perhaps it was a fear of looking bad, experiencing rejection, or not getting the attention she craved.
  • Could it be the reason she wanted attention – to make a name for herself – was in order to feel her worth? What she needed was to hear who Jesus is for her. In him she is perfectly accepted, valued and loved.

For the two consumed with the video games, one sought to escape from life, not wanting to deal with the chaos and responsibility of his household; basically an unwillingness to die to himself. He was looking for “life” in his own pleasure. For the other, he turned to his games as an escape to a virtual world, perhaps out of fear of engaging in real world relationships, or being known.

So we can take away social media or a game console (again, at times necessary), but whatever it is at the core will likely resurface in a new or more extreme way later if we don’t deal with the heart – whatever the ruling desires driving the behavior.  Otherwise, we will only be putting bandaids on the real issues.

Uncovering the sin beneath the sin is not easy, but it is good.  It takes seeing our sin as the idolatry it is in order to see our deep need of the One who rescues us from slavery and sets us free. Only living dependent on him (and nothing else) will we find the true life we seek.

Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World comes out Monday! To receive it next week, click: here. Link to 20/20 Digital Addiction special here.

Face Time Podcast Episode 004: Affirmed in Christ Alone with Kelsey Glover

One week from today until the release of  my new book, Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World! So this is the concluding podcast of my mini-series. Have you enjoyed listening? I hope so!

With each recording, my goal was for the truth of who Jesus is to be heard. For it is foundational to freeing us from the lies of Satan and our selfie world that beg us to believe worth is found in something other than Christ. As you will hear from today’s guest, Kelsey Glover  (a recent Oklahoma State University graduate and youth ministry intern), none of the false sources we turn to – whether it be seeking affirmation from guys (or other people), our appearance or performance – are big enough or valuable enough to give us a secure identity. Hoping in anything but Christ will leave us empty.

To that end, she and I hit on the inexaustible topics of identity, idolatry, shame, redemption and boundaries in everyday living kind of ways, so don’t miss the truth she shares. In case you missed one of the other three recordings, I have posted each link at the bottom of the page.

Thank you, Kelsey, for your willingness to share your brokenness as  a testimony to the glory of God’s goodness and grace!

Show Notes:

  • Interested in the youth mininstry where Kelsey serves? Go to: Henderson Hill Baptist Church.
  • Scripture references mentioned: 1 Peter 2:9, Genesis 21:8-21 (story of Hagar), Romans 8:1, Matthew 5:29
Kelsey Glover is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State where she got her degree in Management Information Systems and Marketing with a minor in Religious Studies. Kelsey’s heart and desire is to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) for all the days the Lord allots.
Want to go back to listen to previous podcasts?
Episode 001: Martha Kate Stainsby on Trying to be Good Enough
Episode 002: Mary Carlisle Crehore on Striving for Perfection
Episode 003: Kendal Conner on Creating a Gospel Grid for our Teens

Order your copy of Face Time HERE.

What Teen Boys Battle Just like the Girls (and Adults too!)

In 2015 I conducted an online anonymous teen survey that spread nationwide. I created the survey after learning how social media had negatively contributed to my own daughter’s sense of worth and belief that if she was struggling so many other teenagers must be too. I was right. This data collected is the backbone of my new book.

The original survey went to both girls and boys, but after talking to my publisher about the heart-breaking and eye-opening information filling my inbox we decided to hone in on just the girls. But it absolutely does not mean teen boys are not also struggling. They are… maybe even more unnoticed.

Everything I wrote in Face Time is everything boys need to hear too. I know that from the survey results, and more personally because I have two teenage boys.  Therefore, I felt like I needed to write this post to say that while Face Time is for girls it does not mean boys are immune to struggles with identity and worth. In fact, the content of Part I of Face Time is as applicable to a teen boy, as a teen girl or an adult man or woman. This is because no matter who we are, our hearts are the same!

By God’s design we long for approval, acceptance and love. But we were made to know and feel our worth perfectly in his absolute approval, irrevocable acceptance and loyal love.  But we think his approval, acceptance and love is not enough. So instead of resting secure in who Jesus is for us, we try to secure our worth by gaining the approval, acceptance, attention and love of others.

We do this by looking to our appearance, performance, achievements and status as the qualifier for how well, or how poorly we fair. For a teen boy it may play out like this…

  • He feels inadequate not playing on the “A” team or varsity so he tries to prove his worth and gain the acceptance of others by bragging about how good he really is. The may be coupled with how unfair tryouts were and by talking smack about the guy in the position he covets. By tearing the other guy down he seeks to elevate himself so others accept him; think more highly of him.
  • He is insecure about some aspect of his appearance, so he overcompensates by acting as the class clown. But by drawing attention to himself and receiving laughs what he seeks is to know his worth. To know he’s okay despite his perceived flaws.
  • He is excluded from a social gathering, and retreats into himself, secretly feeling like a nobody. He may blame the others (and there is no doubt kids can be mean), but his own idol is looking to the approval or inclusion of others as the basis of his worth.
  • He gives into peer pressure -starts drinking, smoking pot, having sex – in an effort to look/be cool or to fit in.  Appearing cool, or rebellious, gains him the approval, friends and popularity he craves, which is where he looks to find his identity and worth.
  • He asks for nude pictures from a girl and then shares them in the locker room. Because of the so-called respect he gets from the guys, he too feels cool. At the girl’s expense, his own status and felt worth is increased. On the flip-side her reason for sharing the pictures also stem from a longing for approval and love, which is unpacked further in Face Time.

As parents we can’t take everything at face value. We have to get to the heart (the root) of why they do what they do, and see it for what it is – the idol that’s ruling them.  Whatever it is they (or we) turn to for identity and worth, to fill us, to give us security apart from God is an idol. Uncovering these idols and seeing them as sin is hard, but necessary and good.

Until our kids (and again, us) see how deeply entrenched our sin is – that it’s not just bad external behavior, but our inner desires, motives and idolatry – we miss seeing how deep our need of Jesus’ worth and work for us really is. Therefore, our view of Jesus rises and falls on how much (or little) we need him.

I don’t know about you, but more than my sons’ happiness and success, I want them to become men who know they need Jesus, live under his smile and desire to please him not out of duty, but delightTo get there, my job must be to help them peel back the layers of why they do what they do to see what rules them. And then point them to Jesus.

It is his perfect performance – not theirs – that their true identity must be rooted in.  When it is:  They won’t have to try to assert, defend or prove themselves, work to impress others or try harder to measure up. They won’t have to live threatened by others’ accomplishments or less than in comparison. And while they will experience disappointment, hurt feelings and rejection (just as teen girls do) my prayer is it won’t define them or rock their core because they will know their secure identity and worth in Christ.

For us as parents, being rooted in Christ means we can live free of tying our worth to our kids successes and/or failures and worrying what other people think. We can live loved – fully accepted, knowing we have the absolute approval of the King. And when we do, may his love and acceptance of us drive us to be compassionate toward others in their sin.  For our kids too, let’s encourage them to reach out to love (not ostracize and judge) those seeking an identity in all the wrong places. Because when we know our own sinful heart tendencies and God’s goodness to us despite it, we should be people of grace and mercy who speak to the hope and security found only in Christ.

If you woud like to further unpack the content of this blog for yourself and to help speak into your kids's hearts, Face Time may be the book for you (even if you don't have a teen daughter). To preorder click: here.