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Sunday
Jul142013

What Does It Mean To Simplify Your Life?

Last week I had a conversation with a visionary businessman who had some great ideas for future initiatives; but, at the same time, he was trying to keep his life-style simple and not overly-complicated.

I’ve been thinking about simplicity more since that conversation.

A while back I did a post on this idea Simplicity and Sincerity. I’d like to return to that theme today with some additional thoughts

Haplotes is the Greek word for simplicity found in 2 Corinthians 1:12 (ESV) and is the same word in 2 Corinthians 11:3 where Paul says: “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” The phrase “a sincere and pure devotion” is translated “simplicity” in the King James.

I started to get intrigued with the concept of simplicity, so I looked it up in Strong’s Concordance. This is what I found: Without dissimulation (mixing of things) or self-seeking, singleness, folded together, single, clear. 

-------Here’s Where I’ve Landed In My Thinking--------

I believe that the word/idea has to do with focus and concentration: to give specific attention to a certain thing or focus in a certain direction. I would use words like: undiluted, undistracted and undivided in explaining what the core idea is. I love 1 Corinthians 7, which is a chapter that deals with this idea of focus on Jesus and not being pulled away to things of lessor value. 

Here are some verses in The Message from 1 Corinthians 7:

“I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple—in marriage, grief, joy whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you…All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.” Verses 29-35 - (Underlining is mine)

My conclusion on the entire matter: We are spread too thin…going in too many different directions. We are diluting our energy so that we are not making the singular and greatest contribution we could be making to honor Jesus and invest in kingdom work. Most leaders are traveling too fast and trying to do too much. They are living complicated and overtaxed lives. Many are crazy busy and living at an unsustainable pace.

As I have been thinking about what it means to live more simply, I thought of four areas of  life:

  • VOCATIONALLY

I want to focus on doing a few things well, not falling into the trap of being a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” In his insightful book, “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell refers to investing 10,000 hours in the single pursuit of something that can lift you to a master’s level of skill. He mentions Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as examples of a clear focus on one thing for many years as they racked up an incredible number of hours of sustained focus on a single issue. Somewhere I read that most people are composed of a few themes. This idea is what is leading me to focus the lion’s share of my time and energy on investing in the next generation of leaders and to saying no to a lot of other things.

  • RELATIONALLY

Can we (without guilt) move away from feeling that we have to be everyone’s friend or attend every social event our “friends” invite us to? With the power and persuasiveness of social media, it seems to me that there is no end to the number of people with whom we are in touch, and with whom we feel obligated to stay connected. I wonder if many of us are on relationship overload? How about a few good friends that we spend intentional time with as we say no to others?

  • FINANCIALLY

This has to do with staying in the black and not overspending, thus creating problems for ourselves & our families. It means striking a better balance between giving/saving/spending. It’s scary to see so many young couples in debt early in their marriage. It starts out with school loans and mushrooms from there. It’s not unusual to talk with couples in their 20s and 30s who have accrued 30-50 thousand in debt, much of it on credit cards. It is a huge stressor and contributes to tension-filled marriages and homes.

  • ORGANIZATIONAL

Here I am thinking of not having an overcrowded calendar…of learning how to say yes to less…how to say no to a lot of things so I can say yes to a few things…learning how to plan with a margin and boundaries…achieving a better balance between work/personal/family. If you think of your life as being like the 64 squares on a chess board, you don’t want to fill every one of them so you have your back against the wall with no maneuvering room when something unexpected is sent your way by the Holy Spirit. I personally want to travel at a challenging, stretching, and exciting pace, but not at an insane pace that doesn’t honor the concept of Sabbath.

+How about starting now to simplify your life--vocationally, relationally, financially, and organizationally--becoming a better steward of what Jesus has entrusted to you by way of gifts, friends, money, and time? 

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Reader Comments (1)

Great post Dave. Sometimes I can make simplicity itself a complicated process. You helped me to identify where and why I have failed at simplicity, and provided the tools to get me focused and on track. Thank you for these words and direction!

July 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom Devo

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