Joe McWilliams

On Tuesday, September 4, Joe McWilliams, the director of IT solutions at BYU-Idaho, spoke to students at BYU-Idaho about the burdens and blessings of modern day technology.

McWilliams shared four principles listeners could use to put technology in a position to bless their lives.

1. Remember God is the source of truth.

McWilliams shared how in information systems design there is a concept called “single source of truth,” which is the idea that data or truth can change or become corrupted as it is copied from its original source to other systems. The same can be said of any truths. When Joseph Smith, the first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had a question he didn’t ask Google or Alexa, he instead asked God, the source of all truth.

2. Stay plugged into the spirit.

In his devotional talk, McWilliams shared that so many people spend their time staring down at their phones that they have their own name, “smombies,” or smartphone zombies. He shared a quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks that reads, “[We] should be careful that the current flood of information does not occupy our time so completely that we cannot focus on and hear and heed the still, small voice that is available to guide each of us with our own challenges today.” He said it can be challenging in a world where we are used to instant gratification from instant oatmeal or instant streaming to be still and wait for messages from our Heavenly Father. McWilliams hopes that we can learn how to listen to the spirit and use technology in a useful way to become smartphone ministers or “sministers.”

3. Use technology to do many good things.

Since the rise of the computer and the digital age, many tasks that once took up a majority of a person’s time have been condensed into only taking a matter of minutes or seconds. Such as responding to a friend or colleague, instead of writing a letter you can now send an email with the swoosh of a thumb, leaving more free time than ever before. McWilliams asks that each person consider what they are doing in their free time and how it could be spent even better-helping others or sharing the gospel.

One example he shares is that in fulfilling his church calling as a young men’s advisor he and the boys he serves have created a Google Hangout called “Teacher’s Quorum is the GOAT” or Greatest Of All Time. In this place, the young men can share ideas to prepare for Sunday’s lesson.

4. Remember what really matters.

McWilliams asks if technology is helping you grow closer to those you love or further away. He shared the Mormon message “Things as They Really Are” video then asked everyone to consider two questions posed by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church.

  1. Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?
  2. Does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve in meaningful ways?


McWilliams told BYU-Idaho Radio when he was first asked to speak he had a hard time choosing a topic to speak on despite what seemed to be the obvious choice of technology since he does work within tech. the process to choose a topic encouraged him to be still and listen to the spirit, which led him to choose to address technology.

Tune in every Tuesday at 2 p.m. to listen to the devotional address from BYU-Idaho and every day at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. to listen to Weekdays on BYU-Idaho Radio. Listen to the devotional address below.