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Living the simple life: Why less really is more

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Colin Noonan

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Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2011 2:00 pm

‘Sorry! I've been really busy lately."

Is it just me? Or do we use those words way more often than we'd like to admit?

Whether you're 16 or 56, life tends to pick up and bring hectic schedules. From work to church; kids to keeping up a social calendar; carpools to boot camps; our days continue to fill up with commitments, appointments, obligations, and everything in between.

But I've found myself asking that infamous question: Why? Why do we insist on spreading ourselves thin? Is it really necessary to drive ourselves not just mentally - but physically - into the ground trying to keep up with an overloaded daily agenda?

I understand that for some, it's a personality thing. Some people are just driven by more things on their calendar. Full schedules and busy agendas fuel them. If their days are empty, their skin crawls until they're able to find something to keep their mind or body occupied.

But in the end, does all the busyness really get us anywhere?

I'm not suggesting that we clear our calendars and cancel all our previous commitments. However, I believe that simplifying our lives by not over-committing is not only healthier for us in the long run, but a must if we desire to live effectively.

Simple is better. Less really is more. Dave Browning, author of "Deliberate Simplicity," says, "People are growing to not just desire simplicity, but demand it."

In my opinion, one of the greatest cancers in the church today is this: Calendars that are filled with a multitude of programs and ministries.

While all of them may be attractive and add some value, offering everything under the sun does not equate to an effective church. It may lead to more numbers and growth, but numbers don't tell the whole story.

What you've created is a BUSY church - and BUSY doesn't always accomplish the mission. You've taken limited resources (people, space, time, money) and spread them thin across a menu-list of options that may keep people busy, but most likely will not allow the church to reach its full potential.

Jim Collins puts it pretty simply in his book, "Good to Great:" "Most of us lead busy but undisciplined lives. We have ever expanding ‘to do' lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing - and doing more. And it rarely works.

"Those who built the good-to-great companies made as much use of ‘stop doing' lists as ‘to do' lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk."

I don't know about you, but when I lie on my deathbed, I don't want my last thoughts to be about how "busy" I was my entire life. I want to know that I made a difference.

I want to be remembered for my love for God, love for people, and how I invested in their lives. Not as someone who spread himself thin throughout the limited days he was given, but rather as a person of purpose, passion and focus.

Remember; the greatest commandment Jesus gave to his disciples was a simple one: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).

Not with your busy schedule.

• Colin Noonan is director of youth ministries at Mountain View Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee. Reach him at

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