The 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

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This past weekend as I preached a message at Eastbrook Church on “Sacrificial Generosity,” I spent quite a bit of time talking about simplicity.  I believe that simplicity is the twin brother of generosity. Paul the Apostle writes:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Contentment is something I struggle with greatly. I believe it is a difficult trait to develop in our lives, particularly when we live in a culture bent on acquisition and consumerism. We consume music, movies, food, books, clothes, and more.

Simplicity is a key to attaining contentment, and it is a key to developing generosity in our lives as well. In Philippians, the letter known as “the epistle of joy,” Paul writes while imprisoned about contentment:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  (Philippians 4:11-12)

In the month of August, my wife, Kelly, and I participated in something called the 30-day minimalism game. It was an opportunity to simplify our lives and get rid of the clutter of stuff that happens to all of us. Every day of the month we would get rid of different things. On the first day we each got rid of one thing each. On the second day we each got rid of two things. On third day, three things. We did this all the way to the end of the month. We gave things away to others, dropped things at Goodwill, sold stuff online, and more. By the end of August we had both shed nearly 500 items.

Now, here is what was amazing: our life was not that different afterwards. We have more than we need. But this 30-day minimalism challenge taught me some important things:

  • I don’t need a lot of the stuff I think I need.
  • It’s hard not to want more stuff.
  • I don’t become more happy by having more stuff.
  • Contentment is sometimes easier when you have less, not more.

Generosity requires us to engage with simplicity in one way or another. Simplicity helps us learn that contentment is more about something inside us than something outside us. Simplicity helps us escape from letting our stuff own our lives. And in that place, it prepares us for generosity.

2 thoughts on “The 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

  1. Great post. I’ve lived a minimalist type life for years without exactly knowing it. Somehow it comes “naturally” to me. I dislike a cluttered environment, and also discovered along the way that life is just easier when there is less stuff. I’m also frugal and dislike spending money un-necessarily. I have a rule that “if something new comes in the house something old must go” and it serves me well. If I buy something, it should be to replace something old, falling apart, worn out, etc.

    I had a post about frugality, and mentioned how it intersects with minimalism and care for the environment. At the end of it, I related it to my Christian faith:

    “Frugality, minimalism, care for the environment…are different but connected. As a Christian, I feel that that these ways of living are beneficial for Christian living. So many people today are broke or busy or both. Of course, this can be for various reasons, and I don’t want to over simplify a complex issue. But living in a frugal and/or minimalist way can free you for things of eternal significance. It can allow you to be more generous with both your time and money.”

    • Thanks for sharing this, Laura. It sounds like you are on the same trajectory of simplicity and generosity that Kelly and I are on. Thanks for sharing that quote at the end.

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