Spiritual Disciplines of a Leader: Simplicity

July 22, 2019

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Today’s post is part 7 of our Spiritual
Disciplines of a Leader
series. Previous posts in the series include Spiritual Disciplines
of a Leader
Eliminating HurrySabbathSolitude,
Prayer,
and Community.

As grapes approach maturity, the amount of time they
remain on the vine is crucial to their sweetness. The more time they spend
connected to their life source, the richer they become. As the branches are
harvested, bunches of sweet, mature grapes are prepared for sale. In the midst
of these bunches are nestled sour grapes—bitter from their lack of time connected to the vine. As these sour grapes
are discovered, they are plucked from the bunches and separated from the mature
fruit—it would be futile for the immature fruit to suck any remaining life from
the branches that could feed into the sweet grapes.

Simplicity, in many ways, bears semblance to these
grapes. When we over-commit, spending our days in meaningless cycles of
“productivity” and constant noise, we lose the ability to be still and know that He is God. Our senses
are too overcrowded to hear His voice. And, because we have too many grapes on
our branches, we notice the bitter fruit of neglected commitments forming:
Partially-finished projects, milquetoast relationships with students, and
sporadic encounters with the living God. However, when we prune that which is
not life-giving, necessary, or fruitful, we are left with succulent fruit
untainted by half-grown intentions. 

Simplicity offers the chance to prune that bitter
fruit which is not life-giving, necessary, or fruitful. By intentionally saying
no to “just one more thing”, by refusing to feed our technology addictions, by
forgoing elaborate Young Life events in the pursuit of authentic connection
with kids—we offer our finite attention and energy to what we have declared
most worthy of these resources: Jesus and His people. 

Both an internal and external practice, simplicity
intentionally removes physical and mental distractions that broaden our focus
and allow bitter fruit to suck life-giving resources away from the mature
fruit. Simplicity calls us to an awareness of what we can prune, giving us not
only the intentional time and energy to devote to what is most important but
also the rest and refreshment required to do those things sustainably and
joyfully.

Simplicity as a spiritual discipline requires:

Humility

In order to let go of the noise in our lives—an
overabundance of activities, relationships, or commitments—we must first admit
that we cannot do it all. We cannot plan Club and Campaigners and do
contact work and work a full-time job and have time with friends
and family and care for our bodies through rest and exercise and
allow time for hobbies and interests and (most importantly) cultivate a
deep, fulfilling relationship with the Lord. We just can’t.

By embracing our human limitations as a gift, as an
opportunity to focus on what is most important (and permission to let go of
what is not), we become free. Free to say no. Free to approach our daily tasks
with refreshment. Free to see God move in the ordinary spaces we might
otherwise be too busy to notice. 

Listening

Pruning requires listening. In order to strip away
that which constantly takes up our headspace, we must first ask the Lord what
needs to go—and be willing to listen for the answer. It’s likely that the
people closest to us will also have input of what we can prune.

Once we begin decluttering the landscapes of our daily
lives, we’re also given more space to listen. Without the constant hum of “what
should I be doing next?” we can instead offer friends and students the gift of
being heard. Still greater, we become more aware of God’s voice. 

Focus

The process of uncomplicating our lives is constant.
It’s easy to see blank spaces in schedules as opportunities for more
commitments. Before we book each waking moment, we must humbly ask whether or
not the busyness will help us achieve what we’ve identified as most
important—loving and caring for God’s people as healthy people ourselves. 

If activities do not fit into the narrowed focus of
our lives and purposes, we must have the courage to let them go, trusting that
the Lord will reward our faithfulness to follow the path set before us.

Conclusion

Simplicity as a spiritual discipline frees us from a
posture of striving: striving for status, for popularity, for better
relationships, for more hours in the day, for favor with God. Painful as it may
be to remove the bitter fruit from our bunches, the maturity and fruit we
receive in exchange is worth the sacrifice.

Simplicity challenges us to narrow
our focus
by humbly embracing our human limitations and creating
space for God to speak. Simplicity is, in its purest form, a spiritual act of
worship. 

As we rest in pockets between camp and contact work,
may we brave enough to ask where we can simplify, be humble enough to prune,
and free enough to boldly pursue the lives—and students—He’s called us to lead.


Written by Micah Radakovich.


Micah Radakovich leads
at Young Life College in Colorado Springs, and she works as a Global Editor at
David C. Cook. When not working or leading, she enjoys hiking, blogging, and
spending intentional time with others.

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