Eight ways to deal with your entertainment addiction (escaping from escapism)
Sunday morning, after our sermon on laziness, someone caught me at the door. He said, ‘Blair, what you just preached is me. I really struggle with being distracted by ______________ that keeps me from resting, working well and enjoying God. You pegged me. But what do I do about it?’ While Solomon offers his wisdom and counsel on this matter beginning in chapter 10. I realize I need to provide some solutions now. Allow me provide eight ways to deal with your addiction to entertainment. These are not necessarily in a certain order, as many of them intersect.
First, thank the Holy Spirit that he has revealed this to you. Your conviction on this subject is most likely the proof of his working. It also means you can rely upon his power and his methods to conform your life to holiness.
Second, pray! Pray that the Lord will continue to convict you to change and not settle for less. Pray that the Lord will empower you to change. And pray that he will reveal any other areas that might be contributing with this problem (or where you might be substituting one addiction for another).
Third, stop whatever activity you are addicted to doing. Whether it is sports, gaming, binge watching or checking your Instagram, it’s time to take a break. This doesn’t mean you will have to discontinue this ‘enjoyment’ forever. Sometimes just a period of disconnection alone will weaken its hold on you. It doesn’t seem as important as it once was. But you must learn to get control of it, rather than the activity controlling you.
Fourth, change your routine. Now that you have stopped your entertainment, fill the time with something more useful. But choose one with a higher purpose that will not be just another addiction. The Apostle Paul taught, ‘whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil. 4:8). Use your new-found time to have a conversation with your spouse or your child. Call an old friend whom you haven’t spoken in years. Read the Word of God and meditate upon a specific passage. Use the time to pray and to sing. Challenge yourself to read a book by a Christian author. But whatever you do, don’t substitute your addiction of another mindless activity.
Fifth, learn to glorify God in your work. I have discovered that many who struggle with escapism feel that God has punished them through their vocation. That is not the case. The Lord wants you to find ways to glorify him through your work. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Begin to pray how the Holy Spirit can help you find His pleasure in your work.
Sixth, serve others. Learn to put others ahead of yourself. Whether it’s your employer or fellow employees, figure out how you can serve them for the glory of God. With your new- found time, serve your family. Or better yet, find someone that is in need and work to assist them. It’s amazing when we help others that are in deeper struggles, our titillating past times no longer seem as important (in fact they can become downright repulsive).
Seventh, solicit accountability as you cease your addiction. Playing golf, gardening, reading novels, etc… are not activities that are inherently evil. It might be ok to return to them once you have your ‘lazy’ tendency under control. Ask a friend to hold you accountable as to when you might return to the activity. But listen well. If they don’t think you are ready, then you are not.
And finally, recognize that this discipline to refrain from an addictive activity is designed to strengthen your faith in Christ. The preceding ‘steps’ or ‘ways’ are mere legalism if you aren’t placing your faith in the Lord Jesus that you would find your enjoyment in Him rather than the addictive actions.