At any moment, we are either creating or consuming. Under certain circumstances, we’re doing a little bit of both. Regardless of whether or not you are creative, the push and pull of content creation and consumption play a heavy role in our lives regardless whether or not you are creative.
Not all consumption is bad. There are so many high-quality creations and information in the world to consume. This could include intellectual conversation, movies, art, literature, music, and nature. Listening to an impassioned preacher, a great singer, or a friend sharing what is on their heart are all examples of consumption. These are wonderful things to consume–even in large quantities. My online library is quite extensive and beyond that, I spend a lot of time in the digital realm consuming resources like music, podcasts, and articles.
Consuming is a necessary and joyous part of learning and life. A person can greatly increase their quality of life through high-quality consumption. Low-quality content consumption; however, is not always as beneficial.
So the question is, what should we consume and in what quantities?
Let me introduce you to a concept I like to call Conscious Consumption. When we apply this concept, everything we consume must be run through a mental test to determine its quality.
The quality of content can be tested through these principals:
1. Determine your goals in life. Why are you here? What is your purpose? What motivates you? What do you want to accomplish?
2. Measure all consumption in light of the goals you defined by asking if consuming this will move you forward or hold you back. Are you trying to avoid something by distracting yourself with this? Is there a better way to spend this time? If the answer to any or all of these questions is yes, take a step back and reevaluate why you are choosing to take this content (be that a book, show, music, etc.) in. What could you do or consume instead that would bring you closer to your goal? If the answer was no, go ahead and consume – all you want!
The quality of our output is seldom higher than the quality of our input.
Practical ways I filter my consumption:
1. I carefully choose every Twitter and Instagram user I follow. If their content inspires me, uplifts me, or makes me think, I consider following them a worthwhile investment of my time. I will be a loyal follower and might even turn on post notifications!
2. On my computer and Kindle, I do not have message or email notification enabled for the simple reason that it distracts me from work I need to get done. It’s so easy to log onto my Kindle just to check messages (yes, even with the notifs off) when I’m supposed to be working on other things. So, in order to combat this temptation, I’ve intentionally chosen to turn the device over to prevent myself from seeing the notifications as they pop up on the screen. Let me tell you, this has been so helpful!
3. I choose inspirational music and podcasts with thought-provoking messages instead of the mainstream stuff.
4. Relationships. This is generally not an area that I would think of in terms of consuming, however, the words and examples of our friends are something we take in frequently. Seek out high-quality friends who pull you closer to God and distance yourself from the ones that don’t.
5. I am constantly evaluating and reevaluating what I’m consuming and work hard to keep in touch with myself so I can determine if I need to exchange what I am consuming for something more mentally stimulating.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
The belief that I was created to do “good works” is a powerful motivator. It is this that should always be our end goal. As we have seen, consumption is not bad in and of itself. Its harm or benefit to us is entirely dependent on the quality of the content we are consuming..
However, the “to do” that we see in Ephesians 2:10 speaks to content creation.
When you think you create and to create adds value to humanity.
To “do good works”, in the aforementioned verse in Ephesians, is a biblical blueprint of what we should value.
Creation is part of life. As Charles Murray, a political scientist says, “it is the very thing that makes us human.” As the saying goes, “a dancer dies twice, once when they stop dancing.”
You could replace the word dancer in the quote above with any creative role that people play – writer, singer, artist, speaker, athlete, etc. and the meaning would be the same. Creation is part of life and has an incredible ability to inspire, transform, and motivate others.
God did not create us to consume content mindlessly, to scroll for hours, or to zone out during shows – our minds empty as we consume the content the world serves us on a silver platter.
He did; however, create us to contribute – to do those “good works” which He prepared in advance for us.
Creation is good for our soul, mind, and spirit. We all need to spend more time creating–regardless of age, inclination, or area of interest.
Jesus was a carpenter by trade and therefore would have been making things with his father from a very young age, a fact we don’t pay enough attention to.
When we are thinking deeply and creating, we challenge our brain in a healthy way, which results in a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Whether you like to create music, books, or businesses, your desire should always be to do more and better!
Don’t waste the opportunity God has given you to create. Start a journal, create a short film, brainstorm ideas for your business, or problem-solve for existing challenges in your life.
In a world that is constantly encouraging us to consume its messages and products, I urge you to look at your life and ask:
What am I consuming and why?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.