Traditionally over the holidays, I continue to work and grind, but maybe at a slower pace than normal. There may be a day or two that I don’t go into the office, answer emails, or even look at texts.
During the holiday break, I had plans to do some traveling for a marketplace ministry opportunity and looking into purchasing some properties in a new area. I had this thought that everyone in our company takes 10-days off, why don’t I take 10-days off this year as well. It was in my spirit that I needed to take a break and take some time off, so I rescheduled my travel plans.
The first 5-days felt like I was detoxing from my work life. I was jonesing to take action, my body was screaming for me to go to the office, check my emails – basically do something to push the needle forward. I fought off that feeling and by day-5 I was finally able to enjoy the break I was giving myself, and really needed that time off.
I went on my back patio with my dog and a cup of coffee and realized how beautiful it was in my backyard. It had just rained, and the air smelled incredibly fresh. It was such a clear day that I could see all the way to Anacapa Island, which is visible from my house maybe 20-days out of the year.
I started to notice and enjoy the simple pleasures of life that I had been missing. Taking a break helps us to reset and find balance.
Psalm 127:1-2 (NLT) – “… Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.”
During this downtime, I was able to crush 2 books that were given to me just before the holiday break:
- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer,
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.
Both books were super powerful, but Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less really spoke deeply to me and that’s what I want to share with you.
It sounds a bit like an oxymoron that someone like me – the guy who has multiple business in multiple states, the founder of a marketplace ministry non-profit, and is a non-staff pastor at his church that helps disciple business leaders – would do a series on essentialism and doing less.
The focus is not that you are doing less or working less, but it’s more about recognizing what is essential for what God is specifically calling you to do in this season and eliminating non-essential things by politely saying no to everything else.
So, in this series we are talking about:
- clearly identifying what God has called us to do in this season
- identifying what is essential
- eliminating things so we can focus on what’s important.
For example, during the beginning of the year our church does 21-days of prayer and fasting, and I personally decided to fast TV. It’s not essential to my life and the majority of it is not good for my spirit.
In the evenings after I am done working or done for the day, I usually sit down for an extended period to watch TV. Watching TV is kind of mindless for me and I find myself occasionally pausing it to check emails or texts until I get tired. Truth be told, the only thing I am not eliminating is watching my home football team. It’s something I like to do, but other time spent watching TV is non-essential to what I am called to do.
I want our focus to be about a concise recognition of what God has called us to do and what is essential to that. This will make it much easier for us to cut away all the distractions.
Colossians 3:2 (NIV) – “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
But what about the things that aren’t obvious timewasters like watching TV? What about when we have many things on our plate that can easily consume our time?
Let me share with you about a time I was faced with a decision to DO what I felt called to versus BE who I felt I was called to be in that season.
20-years ago, I had been given the opportunity to become the president of a local marketplace ministry organization. During that same time, it was my daughter’s senior year and she made it on the school’s traveling dance team. The challenge was her dance competitions and the weekly marketplace meetings both fell on Friday nights. I was under a lot of pressure to accept the position and I remember taking time to pray about it.
I had to make a decision so I asked myself, “What is the most important thing I could be doing right now?”
I really felt called to do the marketplace ministry stuff at the time, but as I thought about it, I realized this was my only year left with my daughter being in high school and being there for her dance competitions. I decided that this year I was going to be present for my daughter’s dance competitions and politely told the marketplace organization that I wasn’t going to be able to accept the leadership position with their group.
That year, my daughter had 25-30 dance competitions and I attended every single one of them. I even helped drive the team to some of their meets. It was a hard decision to make because I really felt like I was called to do the marketplace ministry.
Looking back now, the decision I made was more essential to WHO God was calling me to be in that season – a present father.
It built such a great connection between my daughter and I, that even 20-years later she still remembers her dad taking that year to focus on what she was doing.
I think that is the core of what essentialism is about, making decisions that have a greater lasting impact.
I like how Greg McKeown put it…
I hope you enjoy this series as we talk about enjoying our lives, especially the simple pleasures of life. The goal is that we will make a significant impact in less things, in comparison to making a small impact in multiple things. Quantity is not always better than quality. We should view essentialism as more of a lens to examine the things in our lives to determine what is most important. I leave you with this thought:
Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin, simultaneously felt overworked and underutilized, felt busy but not productive, or felt like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas? If you answered yes to any of these, this book is for you!
Too often we treat the symptoms of toxicity in our modern world instead of trying to pinpoint the cause. A growing number of voices are pointing at hurry, or busyness, as a root of much evil. Within the pages of this book, you’ll find a fascinating roadmap to staying emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world.