DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

How easy is it to ride against the tide alone?

Written by: on March 17, 2019

The two books (Digital Minimalism and Simple Habits for complex Time) we have now read are addressing current challenges that we are facing in a complex world. The complexity of life we live in today is changing hourly, and before one adjusts to what is happening around, another new development comes up and what we end up with is the complexity of complexities. It is all confusion, but we must move with the current in order not to be obsolete. The changes happening in the world today defines the direction of economic growth of the world, and hence everybody moving with the trend.

When we were in Hong Kong, it was evident that people as they traveled through public means, did not talk to each other but were busy with their smartphones. When walking out of the trains, they were all facing on the smartphones and only ensuring that they do not bump into each other as they walked. Especially the younger generation which were the majority one could see everywhere. This brings us to what Newport is saying through Digital Minimalism — choosing a focused Life in a Noisy World. It is equally experienced in Kenya as it is known to be one of the highest smartphone countries in Africa and what we saw in Hong Kong is no different from Kenya today. The smartphone maniac is in Kenya, and families have resorted to texting rather than sharing face to face as Newton puts it. The technology has revolutionized everything including how we do church. Believers no longer buy Bibles; the smartphone Apps are providing. It is hard to tell people in the churches not carry their phones when those phones are their bibles and hymn books. It is hard to tell whether someone in the church is reading the Bible on their phones or just chatting as the services go on.

Digital Minimalism address some of these issues and how we could manage to keep focus with an analog approach. However, it is only possible to do that with an older generation, not the younger one that is very dynamic and even to the extent that they are now configuring their smartphones to act as security gadgets for their premises with CCTVs fixed on their houses or other premises for security and monitoring. However, it has turned our lifestyles unhealthy and unfocused outside the smartphone world. Newton approaches this with the solitude practice to rebuild the healthy mind of our thinking. Solitude can be just as crucial for both happiness and productivity.[1] Much wastage of time is realized through chatting and other Apps on the phones that are time-consuming. Recently in Kenya, a young man killed himself as he was following chats on his phone directing him what to do to kill himself easily. Smartphones have deprived our young people the sense of creativity and being original in their thinking. The National exams in Kenya had turned into an easy thing due to a student getting the leakage through smartphones and hence making them not think and be creative. Newton quoting from Wolf says, “solitude is a prerequisite for original and creative thoughts.”[2] I am equally a victim of technology as a distraction all the time I am working on something. I keep on responding to messages coming in, and that consumes much time, and less is given to what is essential. It is sad that the iGen is classified as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis decades. Newton has alluded to this, and it was recently written in the Kenyan National Newspaper the same that we are losing our young people to this disease that is brainwashing them.

The approaches Newton has raised in the book are not practically possible especially the Facebook “like” icon which is very common. The world is becoming more and more digital and denying many young people opportunities to be creative because all is available on the smartphone’s apps. Learning is becoming a challenge due to the new development of technology that is coming out more and more on an improved platform. This challenge is working negatively to our African development as far as intellectualism is concerned. If our young people are not focused on creativity and research, how would they grow innovatively? Therefore, the remedy is partly what Newton is proposing in this book “Digital Minimalism.” However, the approach is a ride against the big tide. The other challenge is that it is not a process that is collectively undertaken by a community but its an individual to buy in. it is now the responsibility of the parents to collectively help their children as it is written in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Even this is still hard doing it in this world of complexity, but with God’s guidance, all is possible.

[1] (Newport 2019)

[2] (Newport 2019)

About the Author


John Muhanji

I am the Director Africa Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting. I coordinate all Quaker activities and programs in the Quaker churches and school mostly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The focus of my work is more on leadership development and church planting in the region especially in Tanzania.. Am married with three children all grown up now. I love playing golf as my exercise hobby. I also love reading.

2 responses to “How easy is it to ride against the tide alone?”

  1. I agree with you John, it’s the challenge of parents and leaders to train the children on how to use technology, we can only teach what we practice. It’s a big challenge for parents and leaders to practice digital minimalism to gain the moral right to help our children to navigate the noisy world of the tyranny of technology.

  2. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Hi John. Great blog, my Kenya friend. I agree with you that there are the pros and cons of digital technology in today’s world. But I also agree that parents hold the key in many ways to how that technology is utilized in the home. My kids did not become overly consumed with this new digital world, because our view as parents was to help them find value in technology, but to pick and choose what would best help them on their journey through life. This digital world is here to stay. We just need to learn how to work with it to bring value to ourselves and those we serve. Thanks for sharing, John.

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