Every few weeks I get the opportunity to interface with leaders around the globe. Over the next several weeks I will be standing in front of dozens of women and men, leaders all, who are fighting to be effective. My message to them? Simplify.
I found a funny (to me, anyway) book title the other day – 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life! Wow, 100 ways? That sounds complicated. Give me three or four ways, please!
I am embracing simplicity little by little. In fact, I like to teach on the concept of ‘Ministry Made Simple’ encouraging leaders to quit trying to get people to do more and equate that as better. I think less is more. In fact, I am about to the place where I wonder if doing church as we have known it is the way to go. Maybe we gather for development and challenge once or twice, then encouragement and inspiration once or twice might be better. What if release people to engage their neighbors, family and friends with specific acts of blessing. But, I digress.
Back to the point at hand… simplify. I have found I am driving slower than I used to, obsessing less than I used to, permitting more than I used to, chewing more than I used to…and enjoying more!
This morning, I opened my email to the following message from a minister who is committed to sharing encouragement on a daily basis to we who get too busy too often. It read like this… “As I continue to slow you down, do not resist me. For I am slowing your pace in order to preserve you, but also in order to instruct you. At times you advance too quickly, and walk in presumption, so I must slow you down in order to draw your attention to where you are, and to the tasks before you this day. I must bring your awareness off of tomorrow, off of your future, and bring you into observation of today. So do not resist the adjustment of your pace, for what I am doing within you is good, and will bless you greatly.”
Jessie Sampter said, “Simplicity is the peak of civilization.” What did he mean by that? For me it means this – when I relax and dial down I am more on top (and civilized) than at any time in my life. The keys for we mere humans in a world of complexities is how do we get there?
I found a few hints recently and I will share them with you. I’ll begin with the simplest.
- Identify what is really important to you.
- Eliminate everything else.
Now, here is a longer list (but much shorter than 100!!)
- Make a list of five things most important to you.
This might be a relationship, a goal, an endeavor, a state of being. Reflect and then begin writing. (Hint: you might begin by making a list of all you can think of that is important and then begin downsizing the list in order of import.)
- Tune Out, Tune In
Turn off your electronic world. What does TV, the Internet, Cell Phones, etc make you? They make you bigger, wider, available. Turn it off. Even if for a prescribed period of time, turn it off. Gadgets tend to distort your perspective. By cutting off the outside world and retreating to your inner world, you will gain perspective and infinitely increase your ability to discern. Tune in to the voice of God. Listen.
- Spend Time, not Money
We can all spend money to make an impact, but how about spending time? Usually the impact of money spent is immediate and short-lived. When we give of ourselves it creates a memory, a connection, a moment in time that is real and relevant. Play a game with someone.
- Think Outside Your Cubicle
Do you live to work instead of work to live? Is your 8-5 becoming 6, 7, or even 8? Do you take work home? Working longer does not usually translate into working better. Find ways to redeem time, take your breaks, eat lunch for an hour. Ask for ways to make work smarter, not harder. You can do this.
- Count Your Blessings
We, US Americans, who make more than $25,000 a year (and that is most of us) are the richest people in the world. Learn to live and give from what you have instead of only seeing what you do not have. Find ways to re-use and not throw away. Find ways to give and empower. Discover ministries that make a difference and give them money to help someone. Discover organizations like ONE.org and KIVA.org where you can be a player in alleviating the suffering in the world AND make a direct impact on someone. Understand that the best things in life are not things.
- Bring Someone Along
Don’t take the simple journey alone. Find someone to share it with, talk about your discoveries, your insights, your blessings and your life-lessons. Experiences are best done in community not in solitude.
Enjoy. Go Slow. Simplify!