Last week, Becca Ehrlich introduced the concept of minimalism, noting its connection to Christian values. In this week’s post, Becca takes the story deeper — reflecting on Jesus’ message, and where that message took her and her relationship with things (and shopping). I’m grateful for Becca’s testimony, even as it pushes me to realign my own actions with the faith I claim.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
Simplifying Stewardship – Part Two
Rev. Becca Ehrlich
Minimalism: focusing on what matters most in life, and intentionally removing everything else.
As we talked about in Part One, some of why we live unhelpful lifestyles punctuated by mindless consumption, wasting time, and short-changing relationships and personal health is because we have been buying what society has been selling, both literally and figuratively.
More to the Story
If we are honest with ourselves, though, societal messages and expectations are only part of the story. Much of what drives us is our sin and brokenness. Logically, we know what’s most important in life — but many times it’s just easier to continue unhealthy behavior and habits rather than change. We may have even tried to change before, but it just didn’t seem to stick.
We can intimately relate to Paul when he writes “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:15,19)
Now before we sink into our own pit of quicksand and defeat, there’s hope.
The Rest of the Story
When we try to change how we use our resources, time, and energy on our own steam, we are already bound to fail. We are sinners, falling short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
We need God. We need the Father’s reminders of what we are truly created for. We need Jesus’ forgiveness and unconditional love. And we need the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and guidance as we try turning around and walking a different path.
We cannot do this alone. God has created all that we are and gives us all that we have. And God helps us use what God has given us to do God’s work on earth and build up the Kingdom.
God’s Story for You
Since you’re reading this, chances are good that God has already been nudging you to simplify how you think about and use time, talents, resources, and energy. Perhaps God is also nudging your faith community as well.
One thing that really helped me as I started to adopt a more Christian minimalist lifestyle was noticing how God was nudging me to be live more intentionally. Personally, a big area to work on was my shopping habits. As I lived more intentionally, I became aware of my spending habits, and quickly discovered that I had fallen into unhealthy habits when it came to online shopping. Clicking impulsively to buy something online had become an almost daily occurrence. And most of the time, it was stuff that I didn’t really need.
Once I was aware of my habits and began to live more intentionally, many areas of my life improved. I spent less money and was able to use that money towards things that really mattered and I actually needed. I spent less time searching for things to buy online and used that time to be with my husband and go back to school. I spent less brain energy on buying things and turned my thoughts to the aspects of life that were most important.
My journey towards minimalism helped me discover that I needed much less than I thought I did, and a simpler life meant more money, time, and energy for more important things. As I listened to God and started to change just one habit to live more intentionally, I found myself living more intentionally in all aspects of my life.
God is active and showing us how to simplify the stewardship in our lives and in our congregations. How is God calling you to a more minimal stewardship lifestyle?
For More Information
Pastor Becca Ehrlich is an ELCA pastor serving as Associate Director of Admissions at United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg and Philadelphia, PA. She blogs about minimalism from a Christian perspective at www.christianminimalism.com.
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