Simplicity and the Art of Elimination

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
–Lin Yutang, Chinese author

“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.”
–Pablo Picasso

Clutter. Humanity seems to have a huge affinity for it. Just peek into anybody’s basement and you’ll find piles of old clothing, boxes upon boxes of miscellaneous items/junk, and a plethora of exercise equipment that is unlikely to be used in the near future. The worst part about basement clutter is that nobody seems to want to throw anything away. We’re apparently keeping those old smelly quilts for “sentimental reasons.”

The clutter found in our basements is really a microcosm of the clutter that occupies our lives. We tend to fill our lives with a lot of stuff—events to go to, activities to do, and things to buy. With all the clutter in our lives, it’s no wonder that we don’t have the time, energy, and money to do the things that greatly matter to God such as the making of disciples. With our complex and complicated lives, who in the world has the time to engage in the Great Commission? When everything is in a pinch, guess what tends to get neglected? It's Christ’s mission that often gets pushed to the sidelines.

That’s where simplicity comes in. Simplifying our lives becomes important because it allows us to once again participate in the things that matter to God. We said that simplicity is about constantly evaluating and re-evaluating our lifestyle choices to free up time, energy, and money so that we can do the things that bring fulfillment (see here). As we move towards simplicity, it becomes necessary to begin eliminating certain things in our own lives—especially the things that don’t meaningfully contribute to who we are and what we’re supposed to be doing as the people of God. We need to eliminate events on our calendars to free up time. We need to eliminate life-draining activities to free up energy. We need to eliminate the buying of material things to free up money. It becomes necessary for us to begin eliminating the things that ultimately get in the way of what God expects and desires from us.

Just like how it’s difficult to throw out basement clutter, it’s going to be hard to eliminate clutter in our own personal lives. We actually like the clutter and that’s why it’s there in the first place. It’s comfortable having it around. But clutter has the tendency to accumulate. And before we know it, we won’t have the space, capacity, and resources for kingdom things anymore.

What do you need to begin eliminating so that you can put more time, energy, and money into kingdom things?