God in Dot.Com Valley

Silicon Valley may be creating one of the most humanly distorted communities in recent U.S. history.

Palo Alto, Calif.--Mention Silicon Valley, and the images come thick and fast: giant software and technology corporations with names like Sun Microsystems, Oracle or Cisco Systems; techno-geeks announcing breakthroughs in digital discoveries; 20-something entrepreneurs roaring from meeting to meeting in their Jaguars and Ferraris.

There is an element of truth in these images of this pleasant California community that is host to Stanford University, the intellectual hothouse for many of the original Silicon Valley Internet geniuses. But it is the commercial whirlwind that has funneled through the 30-mile-long valley since the start of the digital revolution a few years ago that ought to be the lasting image.

That's because Silicon Valley's instant-wealth frenzy may be creating one of the most humanly distorted communities in recent American history.

"My biggest struggle is that around me are people of the same age who are becoming millionaires every day," says Wheaton College-educated David Friedman, just 26, co-founder of a dot-com startup called DreamLot.com. "The challenge in Silicon Valley is to be successful, yet faithful."

It's not as easy as it sounds.

Almost all really high-paying jobs require arduous working hours and frequent interruptions of leisure and family time, but success in Silicon Valley appears to demand workaholism of an extreme nature. Twelve-hour work days at most dot-com startups are virtually required if you are going to be part of the team. There also is a perverse one-upmanship in the degree of professional pain entrepreneurs inflict on their lives.

"One of the badges of honor at Silicon Valley," says Friedman--who wisely at this stage is not married--"is to attend business meetings that begin at 12:30 at night."

The ever-beckoning holy grail behind such devotion is that the dot-com enterprise may suddenly be valued as a mega-million dollar corporation by offering its shares to the public through an IPO (initial public offering), making speculative investors think they may have discovered the next Microsoft.

Even for Christians in high corporate positions here, the stress can seem unbearable. One executive explained that when he worked at a well-known Silicon Valley corporation, new executives were sized up by whether they would "drink the Kool-Aid."

The cynical meaning: Would they drink poison, if necessary, if the company required it, just as more than 900 Americans did in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978 when ordered to commit suicide by their cult leader, the Rev. Jim Jones?

"There is a sense here that you either go with the flow [of frenzied working hours] or you will be neutralized by the competition," comments Rev. Mark Lauterbach, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of nearby Los Altos.

Yet the Bible has an enormous amount to say about money: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil," says Paul with brutal frankness in 1 Timothy 6:10, adding, "Some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (NKJV).

In Silicon Valley, those griefs have become apparent to pastors called in to counsel couples whose marriages are breaking up or whose children have concluded that absentee parenting is the norm.

"These are lonely people," Lauterbach says. "They live very unbalanced lives."

To redress that balance, Lauterbach likes to remind his congregation that God's perspective on time and work is quite different from Silicon Valley's. "I think one of the key issues is telling people that God is not accommodating Himself to the pace of the Digital Age. People need to be reminded that relationships and ministry cannot be hurried."

Or bought. Here, where the measure of human worth can focus on wealth or wealth-creating skills, Lauterbach reminds his congregation: "Christianity is not about what we are doing but what grace has done for us...you are far greater in your significance and dignity than you realize."

God has known this since before IPOs were invented. Pray that Silicon Valley discovers it.

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • There are some ways the Holy Spirit will never lead you.

    4 Ways the Holy Spirit Does Not Lead You—and 1 Big Danger

    Wrong teaching, ignorance, laziness and a failure of the five-fold to equip the saints for the work ...

  • Chuck Pierce

    Prophetic Word: 'The Winds of Heaven Are Now Entering the Earth'

    Chuck Pierce says we need to brace ourselves.

  • What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    Start saving for emergencies today with the $500 Savings Challenge by brightpeak financial. It's chock-full of inspiration, great savings tips and the motivation to make a dent in your savings—for real! Go to 500savingschallenge.com to sign up!

  • Lee's ministry photo

    10 Ways to Pray for a Troubled America

    God is always willing to rescue His people if they pray.

  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Low-Rate Church Loans Available!

    Low-Rate Church Loans Available!

    Whether it's purchasing a property, remodeling or refinancing, Christian Community Credit Union has a loan package that's customized for your budget and situation.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • God doesn't usually shout, so you should listen carefully.

    What Happens When You Actually Listen to God

    It will surprise—and most likely shock—you.

  • Is there any unconfessed sin in your life?

    Scripture Says Pain, Health and Sin Share This Unexpected Connection

    If you're experiencing chronic pain, this may offer you the answer you need.

  • Guarding the gates of your heart will keep the demonic and evil out of your life.

    Keep the Demonic Out of Your Life With This Oft-Overlooked Spiritual Warfare Strategy

    The enemy knows his limitations. Limit him.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit