I once heard an old composer advise a group of young musicians to resist the temptation of learning multiple instruments. His reasoning was that it is better to excel at mastering one than be average at playing many. He was right. Genius is found in focused simplicity, not general complexity.
Doing too many things in life can lull us into a false sense of achievement. The reality is that as noble as our efforts may be, the multiplicity of tasks can often end up bearing little or no fruit. That’s why it’s important to simplify your life, taking time to reflect on what really matters so you can keep ‘the main thing the main thing’. This is true of us as individuals. It’s also true of church.
In my own life & leadership, I’m constantly assessing why I do what I do. It can be so easy to get involved in a myriad of projects which are all honourable and important. Virtually every day, I receive an email or advert about some crucial project which I should support. But the truth is that if I were to involve myself in all of them, then I’d become distracted from what I’m really meant to be doing! So here’s the key question: what has God called me to do?
Staying true to purpose needs courage and conviction. This will probably lead to misunderstanding at times and there’s not much you can do about that other than to stay gracious. But it’s crucially important to streamline and simplify. Here are two words that I find helpful in my own reflections:
This is about honestly laying out your life and asking the BIG questions: Whose agenda am I living for? Am I furthering God’s purpose? Is this helping to build God’s house? If not, why not? What do I need to say ‘no’ to? What do I need to prioritise more? What needs to stop? What needs to go? What needs to get better?
This is about the ‘how’ of making changes so that you simplify and align your life with purpose: How do I need to change things in order to remain true to purpose? How do I need to re-prioritise my time? How will I say ‘no’ to noble distractions? How will I maintain my focus to build God’s house? How will I protect myself from becoming overloaded with tasks?
As a regular exercise, it’s wise to take time to look at how you can simplify your life so you are living for what really matters – God’s purpose. This is all we have time to live for.