Learning Intentionally in a Compulsive Age

In his book, Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, David Mikics writes, “The digital world offers us many advantages, but if we yield to that world too completely we may lose the privacy we need to develop a self. Activities that require time and careful attention, like serious reading, are at risk; we read less and skim more as the Internet occupies more of our lives.”

No doubt, we all feel this constant tug-of-war between purposeful consumption of content (i.e., books, audio resources, etc.) and meaningless consumption of media. Each day we live in what Mikics calls a “digital hurricane” — a constant swirl of information beckoning for our attention and focus.

How do we fight this hurricane? Through intentional, directed consumption of meaningfulcontent that contributes to the building of self (for more on this topic, I suggest Andy Crouch’s excellent book).

“We all feel the constant tug-of-war between purposeful consumption of content and meaningless consumption of media.”

I do this, in part, by choosing specific categories to learn in. I then find content in these areas and consume written, audio, and video content based on my predetermined plan. The categories I use are the following:

  • Theology. Learning about God, His purposes in the world, and who we are in light of who He is.
  • Prayer/Meditation/Rest. Learning about communion with God and how to rest in the midst of a busy world.
  • Leadership. Learning about how to lead people in such a way that they flourish—regardless of the organization.
  • Pastoral Leadership/Theology. Learning how to shepherd God’s people faithfully.
  • Productivity & Time Management. Learning how to be a good steward of my time.
  • Biography. Learning through the experiences and lives of others.

Once again, this isn’t limited to books. I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and videos about these topics on a weekly basis. I have found time and time again that categorical content consumption helps me live intentionally about my learning and whole-self-development. I recommend it to you.

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