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REFLECTIONS: An appeal to cell phone courtesy

By Michael J. Brooks

I accepted a lunch invitation from a community organization and was happy to meet some new businessmen and women in the area. The day’s speaker was interesting and fun, and most of us learned some new things, except several gentlemen at our table. They not only stayed on their cellphones throughout the lecture, but they whispered to one another the entire time. The matter didn’t seem to be urgent since they joked amongst themselves. I thought how strange that these members weren’t supportive of their organization and might as well not have been there at all.

I suppose common courtesy isn’t so common anymore, especially in the era of cellphones. The stats say more than 90 percent of American adults have one, and the Pew Research Center asserts the cellphone is the fastest most adopted device in history. I understand the advantages, of course. I remember years ago collecting three or four telephone numbers for hotels and conference centers where I might be reached by the deacon chairman if needed. This seems so archaic now since we’re never far from contact.

But I also lament that many appear to be conversant on cellphones but not with each other. How often do we see families in restaurants with each person on their phones instead of talking together?

Teachers frequently fight this battle in the classroom. Some schools have strict policies, but others leave discretion to the instructor. Nevertheless, some students can’t seem to function without a device in hand. A teacher told me of two disruptive students who she eventually confronted. They admitted they were texting each other during her lecture about what their weekend plans were. She told them they were wasting their parents’ money in a college classroom since they weren’t learning or preparing for a career.

We face the same kind of issue in the churches. Many follow the day’s scripture text on Bible apps, and this is fine. But others, I’m told, apparently choose to text and surf and ignore scriptural truth shared from the pulpit.

We had a different manifestation a few years back when pastors commonly included notes in the weekly bulletin with spaces for key words. One lady said to me, “My pastor thinks I’m taking sermon notes, but I’m really making my shopping list!” I was surprised by her admission and by her levity, and I couldn’t help but think she was treating her spiritual life very casually.

It’s a courtesy to pay attention to anyone presenting helpful information. This is uniquely true in the churches where ministers work hard to share life-changing truth each week. Choosing to ignore God’s word is not only discourteous but a bad life decision.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is

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