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

The Best from the Rest

Written by: on March 15, 2019

My heart is heavy this week. It has been a week filled with trauma and crisis, which has made it a little overwhelming for this small-town girl. The week started with a shooting in Kalamazoo of a police officer and cumulated with the tragedy in New Zealand. So, my heart has been hurting, and the loss is incomprehensible for my mind to wrap around. So much trauma in one week!

So, what does this have to do with digital technology? Because it was through the world of technology that I became aware of these tragedies! I was alerted on Tuesday through our emergency Red Cross email system of a police ambush in Kalamazoo and was called to the scene because of my role on the Crisis Mental Health Team. Walking into a building where a police officer had just been shot and the riddled body of the shooter was still lying on the ground was both traumatic and heartbreaking for me.

Yet, thanks to digital technology, I was alerted and able to be on scene within moments of the crisis happening. I could then be available to both police officers on scene and other witnesses to help them through this tragedy that had just happened before their eyes. Although many of these individuals will most likely suffer the ongoing effects of PTSD, I am honored that I could make a small difference by providing crisis counseling at a time when it was needed most.

Within two days later, the tragedy in New Zealand took place. Such a heart-wrenching scenario for so many innocent victims! Yet, again, thanks to digital technology, the world was knowledgeable within minutes of this crisis and prayers began immediately all over this earth to bring healing peace to the families of those whom had lost their lives as well as to the survivors and their families. It became a nation that was surrounded by love…because of the instant informational digital world we live in.

Newport reflected on his definition of digital minimalism: “A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”[1] The author was suggesting the idea of using less technology but utilizing technology more effectively through two major approaches: the subtractive approach and the additive approach.[2]

I found the ideas in the book to be both credible and annoying at the same time! I understand the author’s area of focus, but I also view digital technology as a necessary tool that may not necessarily need limits unless someone is letting their use get out of hand. Yet, I realize this has become a problem throughout our nation (and most likely the world), so I do appreciate Newport’s idea that it’s important to distinguish the best from the rest. The author explored that ‘we should not settle for a tool that just plausibly supports an important principle in our life but think creatively about what tools (and accompanying behaviors) would best support that principle.’[3] I appreciate that type of philosophy!

Final words of wisdom from English author Agatha Christie: “I know there is a proverb which says, ‘To err is human,’ but human error is nothing compared to what a computer can do if it tries!” So true!

[1] Newport, Cal. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. New York: Penguin Random House, 2019.

[2] Newport, Digital Minimalism, 27.

[3] Newport, Digital Minimalism, 55.

About the Author


Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

13 responses to “The Best from the Rest”

  1. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:


    I am so grateful for critical incident caregivers such as you. It is so important to have trained comforters in these horrific situations.

    I agree that it is a benefit to have technology for rapid information. My concern is if technology actually aids the evil? The video went viral, the manifesto was online, and I wonder if the web has actually encouraged these horrific events.

    • mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

      This morning in USA Today an article referencing the NZ shooting said, “The movement is being led by a small, but vocal group of Americans, who have sought to craft a narrative that white racial identity is in danger. In an interconnected, Internet-enabled globe, their ideas migrate very quickly from one continent to another.”
      USA Today “Christchurch attacks: How racism is fueling hate around the world”

      • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

        Tammy, thanks for the follow-up. I totally agree with you that there is a platform for both negatives and positives through our digital world. I think it’s sad when technology is used maliciously. But I also find so much value in knowing what is happening in our world in an instant. There is so little we can do at times – other than offer prayers, which can be a gift for others. But I also know that our world is convoluted with good and bad ~ and all I can do is continue to be informed…and continue to pray!!! Thanks so much for your follow-up, my friend!

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Tammy. I totally agree with you that technology aids evil. There is a platform for evil to speak through within technology. But there is also a platform for good. I know I look at the world through rose-colored glasses, but I always pray that the goodness of modern technology outweighs the bad. I certainly don’t have the answers, but I know the benefits it has brought to me through being able to keep close contact with family and friends through our digital world and keeping abreast of worldly happenings. Yet, I certainly understand both sides of this issue. Thanks for your insight, Tammy.

  2. mm Mary Mims says:

    Nancy, I agree that technology is good, but for those younger than us, it seems very addictive. I know at my age, I did not grow up watching TV all the time. We were told to go out and play. Now we have a generation that has not grown up without technology. I agree with Tammy that digital media actually supports the crazies in the world by dehumanizing people. We need some kind of balance. Lord help us find it.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Agreed, Mary. I do see so much abuse with regards to digital technology. But I also think kids need to be guided more by their parents. So many parents today use technology as a means of entertainment for their kids and the parent’s attention is often focused elsewhere. I think we are raising a generation to utilize technology as a substitute for parenting. If technology was put it proper prospective, it could be a positive in so many ways. But often it is introduced at a young age to ‘entertain’ our youth. I think this tech world has value, but it needs to be introduced and utilized wisely. Thanks for your input, my friend. I agree with you!!!

  3. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Something I have enjoyed about this book and the books on reading from the first semester, is that there seems to be an emphasis on parsing out what is the best/most effective/useful . . . and to go with that. Figure out what are the best books and use your time to read those. Figure out what are the best digital tools and utilize those. Thank you for your analysis on choosing the best from the rest!

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      I love this philosophy, Jacob. What a positive way to look at all that we have been introduced to this term! Yes, I whole-heartedly agree! Choosing ‘the best from the rest’ is so true, as this term has just helped open our minds to new perspectives. You are ‘SPOT ON,’ my friend. Thanks for sharing, Jacob!

  4. mm Karen Rouggly says:

    This was a great post, Nancy. Thanks for sharing! I, like Tammy, am so grateful for women and men like yourself who run towards challenging times, rather than running from them. I wonder if there are ways that we could use technology for folks like you in your roles. For instance, I’ve seen how folks can use online therapy to get the mental health support they need. I wonder if anyone has come up with something to either summon a grief counselor, or reach out to one virtually. Do you think this would be a need? I do think we’d miss the power of physical presence, but I wonder if we could use technology to create access to more services.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks for your response to my blog, Karen. I LOVE the idea of providing grief therapy (and other counseling services) through digital means. I’m not even sure where to start with a project like this, but I believe there is value in it to help so many whom are struggling. Thanks so much, Karen, for your insight. I truly appreciate your thoughts and ideas.

  5. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Given the juxtaposition of goods and evil in social the powers of social media, parsing out the good, helpful and useful is a good starting point. Many years ago I taped the following verse to the television:
    “Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
    As you can imagine, it didn’t go well. People don’t always want to be discriminating when it comes to viewing.

  6. mm John Muhanji says:

    Its sad Nancy what yoiu have had to endure the whole week with all you were receiving were bad news. My prayers with you as you continue doing the good work God called to do for renewal of people’s lives who are at a hopless moment. I admitre your ministry my dear sister. It is true Newport is assuming we are on the same page of life. The analog group who may be in their second half of life could sometimes take in some of his proposals but not those in the first half. The world’s complexity through technology is growing faster than one could control. The most disadvantaged people are AFricans who are always trailing behind everything and ensuring that they adopt to the global level with others. They have no time to compete with the rest of the world, but just follow the wind.

  7. I like your appreciation of what technology can do in ensuring the prompt relay of information for quick decision making and appropriate response. You were able to get to the scene of crime on time to avail the much needed counselling to the people on the ground. It was saddening to hear about the bizarre incident in New Zealand and technology allows the mainstream media to relay such news across the world almost on a realtime basis and thus allow for immediate response. Unfortunately, the terrorist was also able to use the same technology on facebook to stream the massacre online which content can be very disturbing. A Facebook user raised an issue on the selective and biased reporting by the mainstream media who prominently highlighted the incident in New Zealand yet not reporting the religious persecution and killings that on-going in places like Northern Nigeria and India. What is your take on this selective and biased reporting yet technology enables access to such information by the mainstream media?

Leave a Reply