In my office, near my desk, is a copy of Thoreau’s Walden, perhaps the quintessential treatise on living a simple life. The book spoke to me and has been fodder for lots of day dreaming over the years. Even though I had thought about a simple life, I lived one far from simple or even remotely resembling Thoreau’s great experiment. (Thoreau's Cabin)
I had moments where a decision or two were altered by the concept, but generally, I have lived a life of small margins, compulsive consumerism and wasted time and energies. Over the last few years, and more specifically through this last year of my Walk for Grace, simplicity is working into my life, my convictions, and my actions due to a few key mind sets that I am working on implementing as my filters for thinking.
Simply put, simplified living can be accomplished by becoming aware of what is most important in your life, and eliminating everything else. Though simple, the journey to simplicity for many of us, including myself, is a true struggle.
We need a model that provides structure for the journey that filters out those things that would distract us from our goals. The model that has shaped my thinking for the last five years are the key mind sets of leadership:
1) being self aware,
2) highly intentional,
3) wisely strategic,
4) deeply surrendered.
If we are to become aware of what is most important to us, we must journey into our self, becoming aware of how we are wired, what stirs our passions, what motivates us, what our personality traits are, what is the baggage we carry, what are our strengths and weaknesses, what gives us purpose, what is the orientation of our hearts??
This discovery process is perhaps the greatest gift we can both give to ourselves and receive from God. Out of this process, we can identify our values and goals and even create a life vision and/or mission statement. That mission statement is the beacon, our true north, or our centered focus for our life. It is the filter through which our decision process passes.
After becoming self aware, we then can focus on being highly intentional and wisely strategic to accomplishing our vision. Does buying the latest …. (You fill in the blank) fit into your purpose, vision, mission statement? If not, then you can be wisely strategic and say no to the urge. Does this subscription, book, sweater, or time spent watching tv, twittering, IMing, emailing, texting, web surfing etc, bring you closer to vision or does it serve to distract, delay or take you further away from it?
Use your vision as a filter, being highly intentional on decisions, wisely strategic on when to say yes or no, we can make great strides along the path to simplifying our life for the purpose that we each have before us.
In my Walk for Grace, I have encountered many who live on the margins of existence, with little to their name, living lives that most of us can’t even imagine. The more I walk among them, talk to them, share with them, and speak of the message of God’s love for them, the more I am drawn to living with less so that I might live more.
I have said many times, the more I walk, the more comfortable I become with just my staff. I am becoming deeply surrendered to the vision and to my God’s work he has put before me. May you each find your vision and focus and may you become wisely strategic, highly intentional and deeply surrendered to it for the glory and praise to God.