The standing room only crowd at the Storyline Conference break out session called “The Hidden Lies that Keep Our Schedules Overwhelmed” indicates that Joshua Becker is on to something. Not that you can tell from looking at the American evangelical church from the outside. Look at the building we were gathered in (above). Willow Creek Community Church is perhaps the premier megachurch in the USA. The campus is larger than many colleges. It screams “More is more.”
Scripture, however, supports Joshua Becker’s supposition that if you are looking for contentment, happiness or even just the time to follow Jesus, you are better off if you get down to the essentials. It will not be found in your stuff. More possessions demands time to take care of it, time to work to pay for it, or time worrying about paying for it.
Part of the challenge is pervasive advertising. When I sold everything and moved to New Zealand, my sense of purpose made it easier to do and then maintain few possessions. It also helped that I was not exposed to much advertising. Without television I avoided the constant onslaught of messages that I am not enough without (fill in the blank___).
I also got away from the many demands on my time–the social network that expects me to say yes at work, at church, with family, and with friends. It can be like the million and one emails I have received from the Democratic Party this election cycle. Except that the relationships I have with people make it much harder to press “delete.”
Peeling it all back to the essentials is one of the reasons that I look back on my time in New Zealand with such fondness. It has been difficult to maintain the mindset since my return to California. It takes vigilance. I must stay present and take a long pause before responding to requests.
It also helps to have a plan. Watch this space for practical steps to getting back to basics.