My Simplicity Journey: Choosing Priorities

Article by Malcolm Marler

 

For those of us who are of the Christian faith, Matthew 6:19-43 is one of the clearest passages about Christian simplicity in the Bible.  Take a moment and read it through (see below).

 

The words of Jesus are radical as he instructs us to vow, “I trust that God will take care of my basic needs and I do not need to be anxious about anything.”  For me, it is an invitation to live radically different than I do.

 

I am trying to live more simply, and discovering it’s not about simple answers as much as it is about defining my priorities of what is most important.  I want to live more simply so that I can live my life with more purpose.

 

My problem is … I don’t really stop long enough to know what my priorities are for living today.

 

Do you?  How do you do it?  What is your secret?  What are your priorities?  How do you get on track to know if this action, or this purchase, or this way of thinking or living is in alignment with what is most important to you?  Please share with me below.

 

I think it was my Dad who told me one time that you can tell a lot about a person’s priorities by looking at his or her bank statement.  No matter what we say our priorities are, it’s about how we live our lives that is the naked truth.

 

And this naked truth is, quite frankly, embarrassing to my faith. I have more of almost everything that I need.  I probably have more than 90% of the human families on this earth.  And maybe you do too.

 

So … is living simply about feeling guilty, because I have walked that path before?  If I embrace guilt too tightly, it will surely lead to discouragement and giving this whole idea of simplifying up.  I don’t think the guilt alone is the answer.  We are called to act.

 

So where do we start?

 

In order to live more simply, I am going to set two priorities as a first step:

 

1.  I will spend time daily with God.  This will mean sitting in silence and not asking God for things I want, or the way I want things to be, but rather asking how I can give away what I have to offer.  This will be priority number one or I will truly be lost on this journey.

 

2.  I will spend time with people I love.  Relationships are important and foundational to a meaningful life.  I will say yes to time with my loved ones and no to that which takes me away.  I think this means not only saying no to other commitments requested by other people when it conflicts, but even saying no to this computer at times.

 

I don’t have all the answers for how to live simply today.  I do know I want to take a look at my priorities and how I spend my time and resources based on what I say is important to me.  What about you?

 

This is a journey towards simplicity, one priority at a time.  I haven’t arrived yet, but I’ll keep moving, and I will also sit still.

 

What are your priorities for living a more simple life?  Can you name one, two, or three?  I hope you will teach me something along the way.  I need you.

 

My wife is sitting down on the dock right now by the lake reading by herself.  It is the most beautiful 63 degree sunny day we have had in Alabama since October.  And here I am writing at my computer.  I have to go.  I want to go sit in silence next to my wife near the water, and let the bright light of the sunshine and the gentle breeze melt my anxieties away.

 

Today’s Simple Invitation: Do something today that feeds your soul and doesn’t cost a dime.

 

Keeping it Simple:

John the Baptist said, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him (or her) do likewise.”  Luke 3:11

 

Be radically generous.  Give away a coat or anything else you have is a start.  Generosity is a step towards simplicity.

 

Malcolm

 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Do Not Worry

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

-Matthew 6:19-43 (NIV)

 

Malcolm Marler is Director of Pastoral Care for UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL.  In addition to his interest in spirituality and health, he loves to identify physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of persons, then design and build programs that help meet those needs.  His warmth and humor along with his powerful message of hope and grace is his greatest strength.  Malcolm grew up in Alabama and attended Clemson University (S.C.) on a football scholarship as a defensive back where he graduated with a B.A. degree in Psychology.  He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.  Malcolm lives on a lake in North Alabama with the love of his life, Mary Bea Sullivan.  He has two open-hearted, loving stepchildren, Brendan and Kiki who are both freshman in college.  For more information or to contact Malcolm, please visit www.MalcolmMarler.com.

 

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Posted on 5 March, 2010 in Happiness, Simplify
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