Newsletter 602 – Decluttering Your Life

clutter 8Over a year ago my wife and I started the process of downsizing, selling our house, and moving to a condominium. We knew this would be stressful but it’s almost over. One of the most difficult tasks was decluttering the house and getting rid of our accumulated stuff. (Does anyone agree with my daughter who says that books do not count as stuff? Sounds good to me!)

With this background I had a special interest in the theme of Leadership Journal (Winter, 2015): “Declutter: Straightening the mess of ministry.” The articles extend beyond ministry and apply to our cluttered lives, schedules and careers. Here are some highlights including a few observations of my own:

  • David Kinnaman cites research about our hyperlinked lives, distracting addictions to cell phones, and compulsions to keep up with everything that comes to our devices.
  • An article on the collapse of Mars Hill Church points to the values and behaviors of people who are driven to make an impact, change the world, grow bigger, become known, or develop impressive resumés. It is easy to forget God in all of this and buckle under the anxiety and overcrowded to-do lists.
  • Drawing on his new book Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, Bill Hybels writes about making tough choices to strategically neglect things we aren’t called to do. Hybels states, “if you try to do everything and sustain unsafe levels of speed [or activity] long enough, something terrible is going to happen.” Hybels sits down regularly “with a calendar and a submitted spirit” to determine what he can and cannot or should not do. It’s the old idea of having “don’t-do” lists as well as “to-do” lists.
  • God does not call us to do everything. Decluttering your life of valued activities can be even harder than getting rid of stuff.
  • Of course there are things in life that you can’t dump. But be aware of your calling, passions, gifts and abilities. Try to focus on these. If you don’t know what these are, ask the people who know you best.
  • Schedule time to rest and rejuvenate with whatever brings you replenishment. Don’t pretend that your work or ministry is so important that you can’t pause periodically. Keep pushing and sometimes your body forces you to slow down or declutter.


I see myself in much of this. Do you relate? How do you declutter? Please comment.


  1. Eight years ago, I had the opportunity to see Dr. Richard Swensen speak about his book “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to our Overloaded Lives”. Since then, I’ve put much more focus on identifying and safeguarding my priorities/purposes and ruthlessly cut out what didn’t support them. In short, I’ve learned to say “no” to good – and even great opportunities – in order to say “yes” to the right opportunities. Great post, Gary!


  2. This theme some goes along with wherever you are, be all there.

    Best done on a regular basis. Unfortunately, or fortunately, one of the things I have been saying NO to for years is throwing out papers in my office. I can ignore piles of papers for years. My wife cannot. Thus my piles of papers are a distraction to her. They are desk decorations to me.


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