Time Well Spent

January 10, 2009
By Bret

I started writing this post on my lunch break at work. Not a big deal, I know, but this is significant to me, and germane to what I want to talk about, so I’m mentioning it.

My lunch hours for the last few years have typically been spent reading blog entries or online forums or things like that. As something of an information junkie, I love the new. The worlds of art, music, economics, religion, politics, etc. are in constant evolution, and they push and pull against each other in fascinating ways. It’s not always pleasant to watch, but it feels good to know what’s going on in the parts of the world I’m most interested in.

In recent months, the disconnect between what I’d theoretically like to be doing and how I actually spend my time has become more and more noticeable. Why haven’t I written more songs? Why haven’t I read more of the books on our shelves? Why haven’t I tackled any of those house-related projects I keep talking about?

(And don’t forget: Why haven’t I posted more at Halfpenny Orchestra? Isn’t this why we started the site in the first place?)

The short answer is this: Like many in our modern culture, I have become beholden to a consumer mindset. I acquire much more than I use. I take in so much that I don’t have energy or time to create. There is so much available to me that it almost feels like a waste to not to absorb as much as I can. But if all you do is consume until the day you die, what is left?

Cultural consumption should be investment, inspiration towards creation, no matter how small that creation may end up being.

Striking a better balance between consumption and creation is something I want to do better, both in 2009 and beyond. Practically speaking, what that balance will look like for me is unknown, but a few things need to change if I’m going to make the most of the time I have.

Among other things, it’ll mean:

  • Less time browsing the internet.
  • Deeper investment in my church’s worship team.
  • More focused reading.
  • Tapping into the as-yet wasted potential I have surrounded myself with in the form of books, instruments, sketch pads, etc.

Forgive me if there is no solid conclusion to this post…I’m hoping this will be more of an introduction to something new.

Below is a list of some items, some related to principles and others to practicalities, which I’ve found helpful as I ponder these things:

Time. Redeemed. by R.C. Sproul
Some thoughtful overview points from an old article in Tabletalk magazine.

Six Ways to Engage Culture by Jonathan Dodson
There are some good points here about how Christians should engage with the culture around them, but this one made me stop and think, especially the last line.

Point 6: Engage Culture Selectively. Realize and embrace the limitations of your own time, experience, and interests. Spend your time wisely. Don’t sacrifice time with God, church, or family in order to become more culturally savvy. Everyone has been created differently, to live a unique life. Make the most of your experience by redemptively engaging culture, but try to avoid making the experience of others your own. There are too many issues in the world for you to become an overnight expert on Christ and culture. Be selective about what you engage.

Why Are There Never Enough Parking Spaces at the Prostate Clinic? by Carl Trueman
A somewhat snarky but thought-provoking commentary addressing the way we even think about issues of “Christianity and culture.” The last paragraph sums up well:

Alternatively, I could try to move out of my own little world, start thinking less in cultural and more in biblical terms. I could become less obsessed with particularities and more concerned with universals. I could engage less with the accidents of culture and more with the substance of nature. I might even spend less time training people who don’t know the Apostles’ Creed to watch movies that would have made grandma blush and more time teaching them the basic elements of scripture and doctrine. Horribly modernist, I know; in fact, boringly passé. But it might, just might, prove more relevant in the long run than being able to understand the sacramental significance of Sharon Stone or playing `Spot the Redeemer Figure’ in the latest Jim Carrey movie.

Filter Failure Talk by Clay Shirky
If you haven’t watched this video yet, take fifteen minutes and do it now. I’ll be here when you get back. I promise.

Photography, and the Tolerance for Courageous Sucking by Merlin Mann
Amusing commentary on getting over fear and reservations so that you can just get out and DO something.

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One Response to "Time Well Spent"

  1. Roberta Rooks
    Roberta Rooks on 21-03-’09 21:37

    Almost three months later, the question is, Did this insight cause any change in behavior?

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