Craig Groeschel — #struggles (Following Jesus in a selfie-centered world): Book review

strugglesBook Review by Val Viljoen
Information technology has completely transformed our lives. The benefits are numerous — instant communication with loved ones all over the world through social media, access to a plethora of video and audio teachings and preachings as well as entertainment in the comfort of our own homes, breaking news at all times as well as access to the reaction by the public to these issues – the list goes on.
But as we are all well aware, there are many pitfalls and we in our human frailties are prone to finding those pits to fall into. #struggles has been written to address this issue and to alert and hopefully protect us and those we have influence over to the many dangers inherent in IT. Easy access to pornography is an obvious danger and the author addresses this by giving practical suggestions. For example he himself uses tracking softwear that sends detailed reports of his Internet activity to two men, both of whom have authority to remove him from his role as pastor. I want to emphasise that the author has chosen to do this because of his awareness of his weaknesses and vulnerabilities — it is not something imposed upon him.
Potential pitfalls
Now, before you stop reading this because pornograhy is not an area where you have any temptation and you feel you don’t need to read this book, let me share with you some other potential pifalls. What about addiction to social media? This addiction comes in various degrees. Maybe your whole self image now hinges on how many likes you get when you post on social media and you have to check your phone every five minutes? Or less drastically you find yourself (like me) idling away far too much time endlessly scrolling through FaceBook on the pretext that you are too tired to do anything else anyway? Maybe it’s time to be honest and see what needs (better met in other ways) are being met here? Another issue dealt with is that of desensitisation. When a post about thousands dying in a flood somewhere else in the world gets equal space as your friend or family member’s cute cat’s antics, what is that doing to our hearts, to our caring and compassion, our perspective on world calamities? This is not to say we need to not see the cats, but we need awareness of how we can be affected over the long term.
Then what about comparisons? Another minefield — envy is a most unpleasant and destructive emotion and there can be a great deal of opportunity for the green monster to raise its ugly head as you view all the marvelous situations you see your friends in. But the flip side of this is that it presents an opportunity for some honesty with yourself and spiritual growth. We need to be able to rejoice with others — this is true prosperity. I must make the point strongly here that the author is not against IT in any of its forms. He declares that he is in fact passionate about technology, so this book is about use and abuse. He has spent many hours talking particularly to young people round these issues and this book is a response to some disturbing trends that he sees. As mentioned above, he includes himself when addressing vulnerabilities to misuse and the weaknesses that are revealed in us by this medium.
Also Craig Groeschel is the founding pastor of, who are the creators of the free You Version Bible App. (BTW, take a look at this wonderful resource if you are not already aware of it.) So the message of the book is watch out and take heed. As with so much else in life we need to stay in control. I can highly recommend this book which not only points out the dangers, but addresses them with many practical and Godly suggestions.

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