Hiding in Plain Sight

In a recent blog, marketing expert Seth Godin made this observation in a piece called, “Lost in a digital world.”  Godin writes:

  • Allison Miller, aged 14, sends and receives 27,000 text messages a month. Hey, that’s only about sixty an hour, every hour she’s awake.
  • Some say that the problem of our age is that continuous partial attention, this never ending non-stop distraction, addles the brain and prevents us from being productive. Not quite.
  • The danger is not distraction, the danger is the ability to hide.
  • Constant inputs and unlimited potential distractions allow us to avoid the lizard, they give the resistance a perfect tool. Everywhere to run, everywhere to hide.
  • The advantage of being cornered with nowhere to turn is that it leaves you face to face with the lizard brain, unable to stall or avoid the real work….
  • Ten years ago, no one was lost in this world. You had to play dungeons and dragons in a storm pipe to do that. Now there are millions and millions of us busy polishing our connections, reaching out, reacting, responding and hiding. What happens to your productivity (and your fear) when you turn it off for a while?

Understandably Godin’s focus is on productivity, but his observations have their application to the spiritual world as well.

Are we distracted?  Yes, I’m convinced that we are.  Who wouldn’t be in a world that moves as quickly as ours does?

But we are also hiding in plain sight.  The variety of distractions and the busyness of our world have given us cover for a failure to focus.  We can run, but we don’t need to hide.  All we need to do is to keep on running.

And because we can take refuge in the demands that colleagues and others have made on our time, there is no end to the number of places that we can run with seemingly good reasons.  The net result can be months on end without focus, that are filled with activity.

  • Is there work that God has called you to do that never gets done?
  • Are there neglected dimensions of your spiritual life that you don’t want to face, but you know require your attention?
  • Are there wounds or failures for which you have never found healing or forgiveness?

There’s no doubt that you are busy.  We all are.  But you might be hiding in plain sight from the work that you really need to do.

Seth’s blog, by the way, can be found at:


About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an Episcopal priest), live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and five grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, Sophie, and Drew, with a sixth on the way.