LDS Church News

Make technology your servant, not master, Elder Ballard says

By R. Scott Lloyd

LDS Church News

Published: Monday, May 5 2014 5:00 p.m. MDT

Elder M. Russell Ballard speaks at a CES devotional on Sunday, May 4.

Alan Gibby

SAN DIEGO, CALIF.

While heralding the advantages of today’s technology, Elder M. Russell Ballard urged young Latter-day Saints to not let its use interfere with their relationships with God or with family and friends on May 3.

Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles also gave strong warning about the dangers of using pornography and reaffirmed the doctrine of the Church on marriage.

“It is important to be still and listen to and follow the Spirit,” he said. Using phrasing from Doctrine and Covenants 101:16, he added, “We all need time to ask ourselves questions or to have a regular personal interview with ourselves. We are often so busy and the world so loud that it is difficult to hear the heavenly words: ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’”

Elder Ballard spoke to college-age Church members gathered locally at the San Diego California Stake Center — and watching worldwide via the Internet and satellite telecast — for the periodic Church Educational System Devotional.

“I have heard that some people think the Church leaders live in a ‘bubble,’” Elder Ballard noted. “What they forget is that we are men and women of experience and we have lived our lives in so many places and worked with so many people from different backgrounds. Our current church assignments literally take us around the globe where we meet the political, religious, business and humanitarian leaders of the world. Although we have visited the White House in Washington, D.C., and the leaders of nations throughout the world, we have also visited the most humble homes on earth, where we have met and ministered to the poor.”

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles each have strong personalities, he said, and when they are unified in a decision, they have arrived at it after much prayer and thoughtful discussion.

“We are young at heart, and the Lord blesses us to move His work forward in remarkable ways,” he said.

Elder Ballard referred to speeches he gave in 2007 and 2008 to graduating students at BYU-Hawaii and BYU-Idaho in which he urged them to use advances in technology to become involved in the worldwide conversation about the Church.

“I thought I was rather up to date when I suggested they share their views on blogs,” he said. “Since then, I have been introduced to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Instagram – and my secretary told me just as I was leaving something about Snapchat. Wow! It seems like the world of technology cannot stand still, even for a few minutes.”

Saying that today’s pervasive handheld devices such as smartphones are a blessing, he declared: “They need to be our servants, not our masters. For example, if later tonight you share inspiring thoughts from this devotional on social media, your smartphone is a servant. If you randomly surf the Internet, your smartphone is a master.”

He expressed concern about excessive text messaging and use of social media that supplant talking directly with one another and talking in prayer to God.

“Too often, young people find themselves in the same room with family or friends but are busily communicating with someone not present, thereby missing an opportunity to visit with those nearby,” he remarked.

“What I have learned most in my life came from listening to those with great experience, those who had lived longer and learned many important things that I needed to know. Please take advantage to visit and talk with your parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents while they are still with you.”