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The Power Of Simplicity… Part 1 & 2
« on: November 24, 2018, 08:08:51 PM »
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The Power Of Simplicity… Part 1 & 2
By Lance Witt on Nov 11, 2016

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, over-scheduled, 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.

Everywhere you go these days people are overloaded with, and sometimes paralyzed by, choices. Not only is the number increasing, but the speed at which choices are coming at us also is accelerating. We suffer from option overload. The average grocery store carries more than thirty thousand products. In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwarz writes about our option overload.  Scanning the shelves of my local supermarket recently, I found 85 different varieties of crackers.  [N]ext to the crackers were 285 varieties of cookies. Among chocolate chip cookies, there were 21 options. Among Goldfish, there were 20 different varieties to choose from.[1]  This option overload poignantly illustrates the increasing complexity of our world.  It begs the question “in a world that is increasing in speed and complexity, how do we move toward simplicity”?

In last week’s article we said that the first step on the road to simplicity is to get clear about who we are and who we are not.  We must do the hard work of finding our identity only in Jesus and being true to how God uniquely designed us.  Let me now share with you 2 additional steps on the road to simplicity.

2.  Own your life

The second step to simplicity is responsibility.  I need to “own” my life.  I have to face the fact that the life I’m living is the result of the decisions I’ve made.  Much of the complexity and clutter that exist in my life is because I have allowed them to be there.  I know that we all face circumstances we don’t control, but we have more control that we are often willing to admit.  And even though we don’t control all the circumstances that come into our lives, we do control how we respond to those circumstances.  I love the words of Henry Cloud, “You are ridiculously in charge of your life”. 

Every person you pastor is ridiculously in charge of their life.  At least for me, the first step toward simplicity was taking full responsibility. I had to own my stuff and admit that when it comes to simplicity I am my own worst enemy. Most of the complexity and clutter was my own doing saying yes to too many requests, not having healthy boundaries, not knowing my limits, and always trying to please everyone contributed to a cluttered life.  I was not the victim, I was the perpetrator.

3.  Identify the higher yes

Once you are clear about your purpose and your identity and what you value, you have to put a firewall around them.  And one of the best practices is to learn to say “no”.  Part of our challenge is that we want to do it all.  We can do almost anything we want, but we just can’t do everything we want.  Every “no” needs to be rooted in a higher “yes”.  The higher “yes” is your purpose, your values, your calling and your talents.  It’s the “must do” of your life.

·  Saying no to Jimmy Fallon could be rooted in the higher yes of getting up to exercise the next morning.
.  Saying no to an invite from an influential church member could be rooted in the higher yes of being at your kid’s soccer game.
·  Saying no to a requested meeting could be rooted in the higher yes of needing “think time”.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann

When values you get clear, decisions get SIMPLE.  Let me conclude by giving you an equation for simplicity.

Clarity + Courage + Calendar = Simplicity

The order is important.

1.  Clarity = what matters to you.
What are the things you really value?  What are the “must do’s” of your life?

2. Courage =  the resolve to make change.
Will you have the guts to move toward simplicity? 

Will you have for resolve and discipline to recalibrate your life around that which is most important? 

It takes courage to eliminate the nonessential.

Here are some questions to help you think through changes you might need to make:

·  Where are you overextended?
·  What are you spending time and energy on that’s not a core value or priority in your life?
·  What are you doing simply because it is an expectation others have put on you?
·  What step could you take that would bring greater simplicity to your life?
·  What do you sense you need to stop doing?

3. Calendar =  the discipline to execute.

This is where your values and priorities get operationalized.

Your calendar is far more than a tool to keep you organized and a way to get to meetings on time.  It is a primary tool for helping you become who you want to become.  Your calendar can be a bit like a junk drawer.  It can get filled with all sorts of random things that clutter your life.  Those that I have seen get the most traction are those that have great clarity, great courage and resolve, and great discipline to execute the plan.