Tool, Toy, or Tangent? {Or How to Pull the Plug on Wasting Time}

electric socket and clock on the green wallI have a love/hate relationship with the phenomenon that is the Internet. Especially social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or my personal fav Instagram.

What I love?

The way it keeps me connected to my loved ones and friends, allows me to spy on…uh…er… keep up with my kids’ cohorts. I love being able to post a request for people to pray when there has been an accident or tragedy. I enjoy finding a new recipe for our family’s Sunday supper. And I love re-connecting with some people from my past.

What I hate?

The way, if left unchecked and without boundaries in place, that social media morphs into a ginormous black hole, sucking time, wasting energy and diverting from the important to the trivial. (Do I really care what someone had for lunch or need to know who got to a new level in an online game today?)

So with the time I spend online, as with many pastimes, people, or possessions in my life, I have to ask myself this:

Is this a tool?

A toy?

Or a tangent?

The Internet in general is a fabulous tool —  tool for God and good: organizing meals for a hurting family, taking an online Bible study. Or it can be a tool for evil: twisted-mind people, pornography, hate.

It can also be a toy.

Nothing wrong with toys in our lives! We all need a little frolic and relaxation. So, if you want to harvest your peas, plant your corn and feed your livestock, go right ahead friend. Have a grand time playing those little games.

Just please don’t ask me to do it. That sort of stuff stresses me right out!

What knocks us off course and crosses the line is when any activity becomes a tangent; a sudden diversion off course that is totally irrelevant to the tasks at hand. (Okay…that wasn’t the textbook definition which all speak of geometry and other math terms. That is a combo of a few online definitions and my own regretful experience!)

Tangents torch our time.

Tangents sap our strength.

Tangents make us ignore people who need our attention.

Tangents assist us in our procrastination.

Rather than tackle the task we should, we spin our wheels on a tangent. We feel we’re being productive, doing something, but in reality, we aren’t accomplishing.

We’re avoiding.

What else can be a tool, a toy or a tangent?


Remember the saying, “What you own can own you?” When you have an over abundance of “stuff,”  you must spend time maintaining your stuff, cleaning your stuff, and forking out money and oodles of time fixing your stuff when it breaks.

Stuff can be a time-sucking tangent.

So can people. And hobbies.

However, if we prayerfully and carefully, and with all honesty ask ourselves, “Is this a tool, a toy or a tangent?” we can begin to weed out frustration in our schedules. We can free up time (taken from the tangents) for the important missions God has for us; to use our tools to touch others and to live our lives in a meaningful, not frivolous, way.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave at least a little of the “toy” category in the mix.

All work and no play, well it may make Jack a dull boy, but it also makes a momma {or papa}  completely blow a gasket sometimes.

No example needed. {Although if you were friends with my kids on Facebook, I’m sure they could give you plenty of  colorful instances!}

Are you with me? Make your prayer this week, before you spend a chunk of time you have at hand…..

“Lord, is this a tool, a toy, or a tangent?”



letitgo_cover-4Need more encouragement on this topic? Want to take control of your time instead of wasting it away?

Check out Karen Ehman’s latest book LET IT GO: How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

It will help you to know how to control what you can, trust God with what you can’t, and most importantly, how to decide which is which!

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  1. A very wonderful reminder Karen !
    It amazing how many times we think we are spending time with family or friends at the beach or at dinnertime , while we check our Facebook , emails or updates and wonder away mentally from those we are supposedly with & love ! 🙁 May God help us to be mindful of these things everyday .
    Thanks again for the great Post ,
    Leticia @ King Maker blog

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed it and will think about my time in the future and being online.

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