| July 23, 2012
Let’s be honest. We all love the amazing digital lives we lead. I’m an admitted Apple snob, love Tweeting, employ Skype for most of my interviews, listen to sermon podcasts and can’t stop checking my iPhone.
As a church leader, these tools and others allow me to communicate to more people in less time and get my work done faster. Still, there are some leadership essentials you just can’t do digitally. Here are five:
1) You can’t date your wife digitally. Your most important leadership position is the one in your home. And while you can send loving texts, send flowers via your iPhone, and write lengthy, poetic emails, you’re significant other needs to see you in the flesh once in a while. It’s important to regularly unplug, hold the hand of your beloved, and go out for a non-digital date.
2) You can’t tell your kids you love them, online. When I travel, I try to Skype with my kids. They get a big kick out of this and it’s a way to keep in touch. Still nothing replaces me picking them up off the floor and giving an old-fashioned hug. There is no technological solution for the problem of time. Your kids need you, not your avatar.
3) You can’t have coffee with your key leaders. I employ email regularly to communicate with my team at church. But it can’t replace lunches out, meetings, and just relationship-building. There is something valuable and important about face-to-face contact. You can’t build all your community online.
4) You can’t pray with someone who is hurting. It’s very simple, yet powerful: the act of putting your hand on someone’s shoulder and praying with him or her. Especially during a time of crisis. When someone in your church, your organization, your family is going through a big-time trial, the best thing you can do for them is to be there. There is no app for faithful presence.
5) You can’t listen. Email, instant messaging, and social networks allow you to read someone’s thoughts. Telephone, Skype, video streaming allow you, at least, to hear and possibly see someone articulate his or her thoughts. But nothing replaces presence, where you see, hear, and take in all the visual cues, tone, and emotions of another human being.
Bottom Line: Our challenge as 21st Century leaders is to find a way to integrate the most useful technology into our leadership while still minding the God-given gift of humanity and presence.
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and speaker in the Chicago suburbs. He and his wife, Angela have four delightful children. His latest book, Real, Owning Your Christian Faith, was recently released. You can follow him on Twitter at @dandarling or check out his website at danieldarling.com