We’ve all heard of minimalism when it comes to owning stuff. I’ve become increasingly interested in minimalism myself this year. I think there’s a lot to learning and understanding that less really is better. Now of course there are varying degrees of minimalism, and whether you choose to give away all but 100 things, or you choose to give away 100 things, is totally up to you. But I think we can all learn from implementing less into our lives. Not only when it comes to stuff but when it comes to life.
I received a book awhile back out of the blue. It’s not a book I probably would have ever picked up on my own, but God knew I needed it. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown isn’t so much about the pursuit of less belongings but rather about letting go of the non-essential stuff in life. It’s not necessarily a “Christian” book, but it has a lot of really great practical insights. If, like me, you tend to be a people pleaser, have a hard time saying “no”, and your life feels a bit in shambles most of the time, then you too may need to learn the beauty of the Essentialist.
Shouldn’t we as Christians be actively pursuing the important things of life and letting go of the non-essentials? But the reality is that most of us rush from here to there expending all kinds of time and energy and having very little (of value) to show for it.
McKeown puts it this way:
There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in. And although many of them may be good, or even very good, the fact is that most are trivial and few are vital. The way of an Essentialist involves learning to tell the difference – learning to filter through all those options and selecting only those things that are truly essential.
It’s about living by design and not by default. When we live by default, we allow a lot of unimportant things to demand our time and energy. When we live by design and by intent, we choose the most important things. We invest our time and energy into our God given callings and end up making a real difference in the most valuable things.
So, I had to ask myself, “How am I doing? Am I pursuing in a disciplined way, the essential (most important) things that God has called me to? Or am I living by default and allowing others and sloppy living to decide where my time and energy is spent, so that I have less to give to the things and people that matter most?” God really used this book to open my eyes and help me get back on track.
We live in a world of distractions. There are many demands upon our time and resources, and it’s easy for some of us to say “yes” too often and take it all on. But it’s so important that we take a step back to think about, pray over, and consider what things are really vital in each season of life and let go of the things that aren’t. Not everyone will understand or agree with us. God has different callings on each one of our lives and those callings look different in the various seasons of life. And that’s okay. Just remember, it’s to Him we must give an account.
One of the things that has really helped me in decision making is to ask about whatever is before me, “If I say “yes” to this, what will I automatically be saying “no” to?” Usually I don’t simply add something to my schedule. I need to acknowledge that there’s going to be a trade whether I realize it on the front end or not. I only have so many hours in a day and major limitations on my time and energy. Part of it is my health, part of it is being a single, homeschool mom, and part of it is just being human. I was created with limitations.
I can do this or that but I can’t do it all and the more I take on, the less I will do well.
Take some time to make sure you’re saying “yes” to the right things. Who wants to spend their life saying “yes” to things we could be saying “no” to? (Things that in the end really won’t matter and are in fact robbing us of investing in the things that really do matter.)
Did you know that the word “priority” used to be singular? But in today’s dictionary, the word can also be plural. The problem is, if I have ten priorities, then really nothing is a priority.
One last thought:
Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize.
I like this quote on a practical level because it’s true. If you don’t have the time or ability to prioritize, you never will, and your life will be haphazard day after day, month after month, year after year. You will expend much time and energy and perhaps be quite busy, but in the end, you will live to regret it. None of us can live the perfect life, always choosing the very best, but it sure seems wise to consider our days and our moments.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
-Ephesians 5:15-17 (NASB)
I encourage you to take the time to pray, prioritize, and practically implement a bit of less into your life this week. Remember, less, but better!
P.S. If you are interested in the book Essentialism that I mentioned above, you can check it out on Amazon by clicking the link below.