Technology at Work: Dad of the Day

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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I recently had the pleasure of being the “Dad of the Day” at my son’s elementary school. This involved greeting kids in the carpool lines, talking to kindergarteners about the Hour of Code program, reading with and to students, and throwing balls at small children during PE.

The day was full of smiles and joy, but there was one moment at the very beginning of the day that stuck with me because of the way it permeated everything that followed.

Before any formal teaching began, the principal and a few students gathered in a small room, looked into a camera operated by a fifth grader, and welcomed the students on a video feed that was piped into every classroom. Between the announcements and closing, the principal invited my son and me to step in front of the camera and briefly introduce ourselves.

As I walked the halls in the hours that followed, I suddenly found dozens of kids looking up at me with bright eyes, excitedly telling me they recognized me from the video. When I entered a classroom to help out, the students would immediately gravitate toward me and want me to work with them.

I can pretty confidently say this was not because of my winning personality or the novelty of having a dad in the classroom. Instead, I think I was observing a certain indefinable enjoyment that comes in the transition from watching a person on the screen to being with them in the flesh.

This encounter struck me in two important ways.

Technology Can Humanize

First, I marveled at how technology used in this particular way and in this particular context was so deeply humanizing.

For me, video cameras and screens sometimes bring to mind words like “one-way,” “discarnate,” and “celebrity-oriented.” But in this instance, I was given the chance to connect with students in a way that simply wouldn’t have been possible without technology. They didn’t just hear my voice over a speaker—they saw my face. They didn’t just see me in a large assembly hall—they viewed the life-size version of me in the intimacy and safety of their classrooms.

Later, when I was physically present with them throughout the day, our shared experiences were amplified because of the earlier video feed connection.

We often rightly lament that technologies claiming to connect us in relationships leave us feeling more alone and disconnected than when we started. And we are justifiably frustrated by technology that promises to improve productivity at work but results in us feeling more stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated than ever.

But this event reminded me that it doesn’t have to be this way.

When I headed home that afternoon, I left feeling that the intentionality with which my son’s school used technology was probably something of what God had in mind when he told Adam to “make things from what I have made” (Gen. 1:26-29; 2:5, 8, 15, 19) or when he hinted that technology could be used to overcome limitations in the natural world (Gen. 3:31).

When I think about the problems I am attempting to solve in my own vocation as a web developer, this story reminds me that it is possible for our Christian values to drive our technology usage rather than the other way around.

Technology Is Here to Stay

And this brings me to my second observation. The reason we need to learn to apply our Christian virtues to our technology usage is because we’re going to be doing so for a very, very long time. For eternity in fact.

Having my face simultaneously visible to every kid in school reminded me of the mid-twentieth century prophecy gurus who thought that television sets would be the means of fulfilling Jesus’s promise to come in the clouds and have “every eye see him” (Rev. 1:7). This is easy to dismiss as overly literalistic and speculative, but the part they got right is that human technology matters in the story of God. Every portrait in Scripture of the new heavens and new earth also involves a new city (Rev. 21:22), full of things humans have made.

The prophet Isaiah says that in the age to come, “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Isa. 2:4). Notice that God’s intent is not to do away with swords altogether, but to transform all human tools into their best, most life-affirming form that enables and enhances human flourishing. In the movement of God’s story, we are not going back to the pristine Garden; we are moving toward the Heavenly City, a place with redeemed souls, resurrected bodies, and transformed technology.

Our role today, then, is to live in light of that coming day. Not only in our attitudes and actions but also in the kinds of technology we create and the way we use the tools we have.

God has a pretty great track record of using broken people and their tools—Noah and his ark, Moses and his chisel, David and his iron, John and his pen (2 John 1:13), Paul and his roads—and I think he still wants to join us today, working through our frail lives and our imperfect tools.


Technology at Work

Will there be technology in heaven, or is technology simply for our use while we’re here on earth? What technology will we take to heaven? And what is technology, anyway? God placed humanity on the earth and gave us instructions to take care of it. Does that mean God had technology in mind right from the beginning? We are quick to judge technology and find it wanting, but what if technology can help us as we partner with God as co-creators and restorers on the earth? How would we steward technology differently if we thought it might actually have an impact on the kingdom of God? Our theme Technology at Work explores some of these questions and more.

Featured image by Lucélia Ribeiro. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.