A Spiritual Fitbit

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Thursday, February 21, 2019
A Spiritual Fitbit

A Spiritual Fitbit

I recently received my annual “year in review” from Fitbit, the watch/tracker I wear on my wrist. I find it helpful in keeping me on my pre-determined goal of at least 10,000 steps a day, and immensely satisfying when I enter “challenges” with my competitive children.

I was informed that in 2018, I walked 4,117,849 steps. That’s an average of more than 11,000 steps a day, which, Fitbit told me, is like 524 hours showing off my dance moves. Since I don’t have any dance moves, except acting like an airplane trying to feed my grandchildren, this made me happy.

It was also the equivalent of 2,031 miles, which is the same as 8,122 times around an Olympic track. I burned 732,110 calories, which equals 2,816 scoops of ice cream. They would have been better off telling me the equivalent of burning off Five Guys hamburgers.

Fitbit gave me another interesting factoid, completely unattached to my own stats. The fittest day of the year in 2018 across all users was May 25 (or at least the most active), and May 1 was the top day exercise was logged. For those charting food intake, the top day was January 8.

Fitbit users lost a total of 68,878,807 pounds.

I happily (and gratefully) contributed to that.

The report made me wonder… what if there was a spiritual Fitbit? I sometimes wish one existed. Something that would remind me how many minutes I’ve prayed, how many “steps” I took in faith, how well my giving matched my income, the number of times I shared my faith, when I showed grace and when I exercised mercy.

We shouldn’t reduce spirituality to such things, but tracking them would at least hold us accountable to some bare minimums. Imagine a “Workweek Challenge” for how many times we served the poor, stood against injustice or worked for racial reconciliation.

Or even obeyed the speed limit.

I know. A “spiritual” Fitbit would feed into legalism and cater to a works-righteousness. But I still feel that while James, the brother of Jesus, might not like it as a leading indicator, he might like it as a minority report.

After all, he did write,

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2:14)

Maybe we do need something wrapped around our soul that sends us a report every now and then.

James Emery White

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.

A Spiritual Fitbit