Welcome to the weird time between Christmas and the New Year when we don’t know what day it is and are still stuffing ourselves with ham and Chex Mix until our Lifestyle Change kicks off on January 2nd. Or January 3rd if you are off of work Monday because no one wants to start New Year, New Me on an observed holiday.
This is also the time people wax philosophical about what’s behind and post romanticized resolutions to their tens of social media followers.
It’s me. I’m those people so kindly indulge my sharing a simple yet priority-interrupting snippet from my journal that I pray will filter and guide how I spend my time in 2023.
“….consume less, create more.”
I’ve been wrestling with this idea for a couple of months. Since it has made an appearance in my notes more than once, I’ve spent time considering how it applies across different areas of life. I’ll break it down to the two I consider most important: Spiritual and Functional
God’s covenant with Abraham promised He would bless him so that he would be a blessing. Abraham wasn’t chosen by the Lord to simply consume His goodness but for His grace to generate and multiply goodness through his spiritual offspring.
Paul emphasizes this thought in Romans 1:5 when he states, “…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.”
He continues in verses 11-12, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
What is Paul saying? God gave him grace and apostleship not so he could rest in his position but to affect faith in others by doing something with what he’d been given. We consume God’s Word and that is great, but we are also meant to give for the mutual encouragement of those in our families, our churches, our communities, the nations. We are blessed to bless, not blessed for bliss. One is action, the other a state of a complacent mind. See the difference?
- Are we merely consuming God’s goodness or are we creating and serving with the grace and gifting He’s crowned upon us?
- Let’s purpose to have the same stance as Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
What about the functional impact?
The consumer appetite has grown ridiculously voracious. Not convinced?
Exhibit A: Netflix
Back in the day, I was content with waiting week after week for the next episode of Alias to see if Sydney Bristow would bring down Arvin Sloane. It took years to see Sloane finally obtain the immortality he’d been seeking but trapped in a cave for eternity when Sydney’s dad, Jack set off a bomb. It was one of the finer series endings of our time and the fact it took five years of my adult life to arrive at that conclusion made it even sweeter. Today’s kids just don’t have that level of commitment.
Regardless of the decade, the show, or the media platform, how are our functional hours spent consuming television and scrolling through the multitude of social media platforms impacting us spiritually? I will suggest there are two basic motives and responses: Fascination or Inspiration.
The dictionary definition of ‘fascinate’ is as follows:
draw irresistibly the attention and interest of (someone).
Better than that is the archaic definition which, interestingly enough, involves a snake:
ARCHAIC (especially of a snake) deprive (a person or animal) of the ability to resist or escape by the power of a look or gaze.”the serpent fascinates its prey”
Fascination is predatory and consumes us as we are consuming it. It wastes the time we could have been spent “working harder than all of them” and tells us the lie that there was never enough time for doing anything else. Social media sucks us in and leaves us hungry to be like the “her” behind the content and more often than not, that’s exactly the response the poster hoped for. There is no resulting creation from consuming this content. Fascination says, “look at me”, and lives and dies by the number of followers she can entice.
On the other hand, Inspiration equips with knowledge to use in our own creations, our own ministries, our own work product. It says, “here’s how, here’s why” and encourages the audience to go and do likewise. Inspiration blesses so the recipient can bless others. Inspiration results in action. Creation over consumption.
- The ultimate Inspiration is Scripture. Not only does it tell, “here’s how, here’s why”, but more importantly shares, “here’s Who” is the foundation for the rest. Do you have a plan for consuming it in 2023?
- How much time is spent watching All The Things and also claiming “no time” for consuming God’s Word and consequentially, encouraging and ministering to people around us?
- Are we fascinated or inspired by those things we are consuming on social media?
- If you aren’t sure which, honestly evaluate how the content affects you. Are you battling comparison and feelings of inferiority? Have you become enamored with a person or lifestyle that is out of common reach? That’s a sure sign of unhealthy fascination. There’s an easy fix. Power off. Unfollow.
I’ve been talking with the Lord and asking Him to help me recognize the value of what I’m consuming and for how long. There’s nothing wrong with sharing dorky reels with your friends or bingeing a favorite tv show, but the goal is to create more than consume and if the taking in leaves no time for the giving out, it’s time to adjust.
What does that look like? For some it is posting spiritual encouragement or sharing subject matter expertise through social media. For others it’s equipping women for ministry through mentoring and discipleship, it’s honing a skill or sharing a recipe or calling on a widow.
For me, it’s going to look like reading/looking less and writing more. This may be private journaling, it may be public encouragement. It may be both. I’m not proclaiming any resolutions but I’m confident that if “consume less, create more” is the guide, whatever form that takes will be of much greater benefit than the alternative.
Maybe this resonates with you in some small way. If so, I’d love for you to share how “Consume less, create more” could look like in your 2023.
Happy New Year and Go Dawgs!