Friday, September 27, 2013

Think on these Things: A Unique Interpretation of Paul's Exhortation

I really enjoy the blog "What's best next" as a Christian resource, but as a general resource for life as well. The main topic is how to integrate a life of faith with a life of satisfying work.

In his recent post, Matt discusses Paul's wisdom to the Philippian church on the subject of spiritual disciplines. As a Christian growing up, it was hammered home the importance of spending time in the Scriptures, praying, and other activities we tend to "do".

As an adult, I've enjoyed a number of experiences over the years that I would categorize as "good", but always felt somewhat uncomfortable about because they weren't necessarily "spiritual". Movies that had a theme which rang true, or music that got stuck in my head because the composition was so amazing. I would dwell on them and tended to feel a bit guilty for it.

Paul's command to focus on excellent things is important for us today. Not only because we can become focused on worthless things (think about what value reality TV has added over the past decade), but because there's so much out there to focus on in the first place. Our attention is constantly challenged in the media-driven society we live in.

Two great implied thoughts on the verse & post:

1) We can choose what we spend our attention on. While marketing works, nevertheless, we have a choice as to what we invest our time in.

2) The filter is "excellence". In this case, the author directs us to consider all of the good things around us, independent of their source. As a Christian, I would say that God is the ultimate source of truth, and it is by His reflection and outpouring into the world that we have beautiful things. A Muslim would say something similar about Allah. The world-class physicist may say it about his scientific methodology. There are amazing artists from the Eastern world, and many atheists have contributed significant findings to our understanding of the universe. Why would I avert my eyes from truth solely because of their beliefs?

Take what is good, and throw away the rest. Tim Ferriss posed this in his recent book "The 4-Hour Chef" as a way to intake the volume of information he provided. The world is a big place, and our life's experiences are as yet immeasurable. Our challenge is to make the absolute best of everything around us.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Directed vs. Drifting: How Are You Spending Your Time?

I subscribed to Jon Morrow's posts on blogging about a year ago, but the value of his words extends beyond a career as a writer. In this post he tells a personal story of how he turned his lifestyle around and went from mediocre student to one of success. I find his arguments compelling.

It's easy to discuss the esoteric nature of "free will" and our ability to choose things. But here is a perfect example. We are all given resources to manage, to steward. Money is one of the easiest things to equate to stewardship, but I find more and more that time is my most valuable resource. I can't earn more time. I can only spend what I have wisely.

No one says you can't have fun and let off steam, but over time, it's easy to lose sight of those bigger dreams and goals we have. One Netflix series turns into several shows at a stretch (thank you Arrested Development...) I hope we can all commit to reducing our intake of less-than-helpful content and focus on the good things around us too.

What is adding value into your life?
If time is a resource to steward, what are you spending it on? Education? Building relationships with others? Creating a product or service?  Serving?