Joshua Becker speaks about minimalism at CCC. photo by Jordan Green

(To hear the audio from last night’s Joshua Becker event, click here.)

Last night, Christ Community Church had Joshua Becker come in and speak at one of the Double Your Impact events. Joshua runs the blog Becoming Minimalist, and has also authored a number of books about minimalism. He is also a former high school intern at CCC.

Joshua shared his story about how he came to embrace the minimalism lifestyle, and how it’s transformed him and his family. It was great to hear, especially after blogging about simplicity in my own life yesterday.

Here are my notes from last night.

There is more joy in pursuing less than there is in pursuing more. Since the day we have been born we have been told something different. Every ad and spokesperson tells us that, that we need to live with more instead of less. The Bible is clear how the world can enslave us with “more” yet we are deceived into believing that.
I have this balance. I’m a full-time student pastor, but also an author/blogger. Do I speak as a preacher or an author? I hope to meld the two and give you tips on how to simplify your life. Hopefully it inspires you to seek Christ.
When I made choice to become minimalist I had two seeds of discontent being sown in my life. Until then I had typical suburban lifestyle with my wife and two kids. One, I was not content with how I was spending my finances in my life. It started when speaking at youth group event. Luke 6:20. Blessed are the poor… Luke leaves out “in spirit” with poor, as opposed to comparable beatitudes passage in Matthew. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst. I thought, “What do I do with this?” People told me Jesus means “poor in spirit”, but then why wasn’t it in there? I’d travel to different third world countries and see people living in poverty and living joy-filled lives. More joy there than in American churches.
Rich young ruler. The ruler couldn’t sell his possession and give to his poor. Really? What does that mean today? Some say that it was isolated to that individual, but that it isn’t for us today. Don’t let money come between you and God, they’d tell me.
Luke 3, John the Baptist says, “If you have two tunics, and someone has zero, give one to the one who has none”. I don’t have tunics, but I have coats. Can I give away my 5 coats? I tell myself I need them for the varying situations in my life, and the same with jeans, shoes and everything else.
Acts 2 and Acts 4 where the early church sold everything and was giving to the poor.
I couldn’t sit content with my spending and how it lined up with what the Bible said. I was also living paycheck to paycheck and realized there had to be something more.
The second discontent was the energy and resources that it took to manage all the “stuff” I had. It was sucking the energy out of my life. Minimalism came into my life Memorial Day Weekend 2008. I thought it would be a good day to clean out the garage. I got my son involved, thought it would provide some time with him. I’m cleaning stuff out of garage, while my son is playing in the backyard for a few hours. My neighbor sees this and sarcastically says, “The joys of home ownership”. I said, “The more stuff you own, the more it owns you.” She said, “That’s why my daughter is a minimalist”. I asked what that was and she told me. That was it. I ran inside and told my wife as she was cleaning the bathroom. She was in favor of it. So we looked it up online and started researching it. Minimalism. Stripping down life to what you actually need. Started coming across fascinating examples of people living with less than 100 things.
I went room by room in the house and asked about everything, “Is this essential to our lives?” We got rid of the junk in our lives. Far more joy in pursuing less, than in pursuing and accumulating more.
Started blogging about it because no one else was. It’s an inspiring thing to live the life and people gravitated toward it. Then, we wrote a book about the best things from the blog so people could pick up the best things in minimalism.
We figured out a minimalism that works best for us.
Called the book “Simplify” because people gravitate toward that. 7 principles with it and here are some.
First principle is you’ve got to be convinced that pursuing less is better than pursuing more. Our actions will always follow our heart. If we don’t think this, we’ll default back to pursuing more.
What would it mean to live with less things in my life and home?
  • Be able to find things.
  • Less to clean. (I love things that are clean, but hate to clean.)
  • More time. (Average American spends 12 hours a week shopping.)
  • Smaller house. (Less footprint)
  • Use 20% of the stuff 80% of the time. Same with clothes.
  • More money
  • Less stress. (Where there is more stuff, there’s more stress.)
  • Good for the environment.
  • Pursue your passion.
  • You can have greater impact.
It’s liberating to get rid of stuff. Books, posters, stuff. I got rid of a number of books and notes. So when problems arose I was forced to deal with it in new ways instead of old ways. Things can keep us tied to the past instead of looking forward.
“I want this…” is more commonly said in some home as opposed to “I love you.” What’s the kid going to grow up to be like?
I got rid of physical belongings and became more impactful. I can focus in on what is dear to my heart: God and my family.
Second principle is identifying your values and finding approach to minimalism/simplicity that works for you. Dave Bruno lives with less than 100 things. That’s not me. Find what works best for you and your family. It forces you to identify what you truly value.
Simplicity is the intentional promotion of things that what we most value, and removal of things that distracts us from it.
Third principle is jump in and do it. Just pick something and start there. It could be your car, or a drawer, or a closet. It’s a great feeling that first time, and then you’re motivated to do the next thing. We always started easy. It’s like running a marathon, and I just ran my first marathon. Day 1 is you run a mile. Day 2 you walk. Day 3 you run 1 mile. Day 5 you run 2 miles. And so on. You don’t start by running a marathon. You don’t start by getting rid of everything. Start small, and it will grow.
Jump in with the low hanging fruit. Books, magazines, tv shows, cd, movies, get rid of things you know you aren’t going to use again.
I’m not there yet. It’s a process.
Fourth principle is to stop the trend of consumerism. Not letting it define us and our country. This country IS defined by consumerism. Think about how the country reacts when consumer confidence and spending is down. When holiday shopping goes down. The country goes in a panic as to what will happen. What did President Bush tell America after 9/11? Go shopping. Don’t let terrorists break up American life. As Christ-followers we learn there is better things to live for. It’s not about possessions, or what is seen, but rather what is unseen.
Fifth principle is apply elsewhere. Think about why we’re purchasing what we are, why are we going to the store. Why are we eating the food we are? It impacted bills and time commitments. Facebook and internet bookmarks. Why am I wasting my time half-awake instead of pursuing what’s important and my passions? Your life is far too valuable. Don’t waste it chasing physical things.
Brings me back to Jesus and the things Christ says. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Give one of your two coats to the poor. Jesus lived his life as the incredible invitation. “You will find abundant life…” But when it came to money, Jesus was clear in his command about selling and giving to the poor. Jesus was inviting us to a better way of life, especially when it came to money. It will lead to abundant life.
Q&A (I couldn’t hear the questions, but here are some of Joshua’s responses.)
  • It can look different from family to family, especially as it relates to kids. Don’t want to force things on them, but want life to be an example to them. When it comes to holidays, we don’t ask people to not give gifts, we try to be strategic with the gifts we give them. Less gifts, more valuable. Instead of buying four of something, buy one of it but good quality.
  • Haven’t had to deal with balancing kids’ schedules too much yet, but we know that is coming.
  • I have one or two big goals I’m working on, as opposed to five or six goals.
  • I can’t think of a single thing that I’ve gotten rid of that I regret. I can think of things that I do want to get rid of. Did debate on some sporting equipment, which I kept and I’m glad I did. I can now do sports with my kids.
  • Best thing with sentimental things? Is it just staying in a box? Pick out things that define the sentiment and then put them somewhere so you can see it.
  • Pared down internet and email so I can pour into what I’m passionate about.
  • Can’t disciple twenty students, but you can three or four with being a student pastor. With programs, try not to be doing too much.

One thought on “Double Your Impact: Simplify

  1. Good stuff here. I like that he says simplifing can be made personal. I can think about what God is telling me and shape that into the godly lifestyle He has for me. Makes me excited to go back to the States and start in on this…and maybe seeing what I can do while I'm still living in Peru.

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