Simplicity. It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? I really do believe that many of the people you pastor are looking for simplicity. They want a life that works. They want clear direction and purpose. They want a roadmap that helps them live for that which is most important. There is a lot of white noise and clutter in people’s lives that creates disequilibrium and leaves people feeling exhausted.
But the irony is that simplicity rarely feels simple. In my life I have often longed for greater simplicity, but it has usually felt elusive and just out of reach.
And everywhere I travel and speak, I hear words that are a disguised plea for a simpler life. I hear words like exhausted, overwhelmed, overscheduled, stressed. People’s lives feel cluttered, confused and complex…anything but simple.
Maybe you can resonate with the words of Charles Wagner: “Amid the confused restlessness of modern life, our wearied minds dream of simplicity.” It is mind-boggling that he wrote these words in Paris in 1895, before the invention of the car, the airplane, the television, the computer, the internet or social media.
The world is not going to slow down. Technology is not going away; 24/7 access to everything is here to stay. We live in a day of option overload. And because of the speed of life and business, we have more options coming at us and less time to decide on them.
Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach says “The biggest challenge for everyone living today is how to adjust to a continual increase of complexity in every area of life.”
And I would say it is not just the increase of complexity, but the increase of speed.
This is one reason why your preaching is so important. It allows people to step back from the grind of daily life and thoughtfully reflect on who they are and who God wants them to become. And it provides the space to hear God’s perspective and make mid-course adjustments to their lives.
And I am convinced that the quality of our one and only life has a lot to do with this issue of simplicity. This topic is about far more than organizing your closet or cleaning out your garage. So, let me share with you 3 steps on the road to simplicity.
1. Get clear about who you are and who you aren’t
So many voices shape and inform our sense of identity and that can lead to confusion. We start living the life others want us to live rather than the life that flows out of God’s purposes and our own values, longings, priorities, gifts, and personality.
Lack of clarity around who I am and what is truly important to me will lead to complexity and clutter.
All my life I have been a type A, driven, ambitious, over-achieving person. It is in my DNA. I am a fairly typical first born. But the script I learned growing up also contributed to my drivenness. The script I learned was… work hard, be responsible, do good, and that’s how you get affirmed and loved.
So, when that’s the script you live by, you are always focused on achieving. You are only as good as your latest accomplishment. At least for me, the end result was a compulsively busy and complicated life.
When I am talking to people I am always listening for the scripts that inform how they think and live. And while these scripts impact us and shape us, we don’t have to be held captive by them.
One day I was on the phone with a pastor that I had done a LifePlan for about six months earlier. We were talking about his journey since the process and he said “You know what’s been so great about my LifePlan? In the past whenever an opportunity would come my way, I would always evaluate the opportunity based on the merits or benefits of the opportunity. But now, I first run opportunities through the filter of who I am. Does it fit my purpose and my values and who God made me to be? It has made things so much SIMPLER.”
In the next article I will share two other steps on the road to simplicity. But maybe this week you need to do some serious reflection on who you are at the core of your being. And perhaps you need to make the courageous decision to stop living for everybody’s else’s expectations and start being true to who God uniquely made you to be.