Minimalism is the new trend.
In a world where owning more seems to be the goal, people are fighting back, and that’s good.
Materialism doesn’t bring the happiness people think it brings.
So, is minimalism the right path? What does minimalism mean for Christians? Let’s talk…
Labels Don’t Matter
You can call it whatever you want, but the label “minimalism” isn’t what’s important. Think about your walk with God; the label “Christian” isn’t important. You can refer to yourself as a Christ Follower, or Jesus Freak or whatever you want — the label doesn’t matter.
So let’s be clear up front. It doesn’t matter whether you call yourself a minimalist or not.
Owning less will most likely give you a greater chance of focusing on what truly matters. But calling yourself a minimalist, and then living like you’ve been living, won’t help you much.
That being said, is minimalism right for Christians?
Should Christians Be Minimalists?
I think everyone should consider this lifestyle; however, it’s not new.
Jesus was a minimalist before it was cool.
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’” Matthew 8:20
When Jesus was crucified, he had a handful of material possessions, and he could carry everything he owned on him. We all know that Jesus didn’t focus on material possessions. That’s no secret.
So should we follow in His footsteps and sell everything we own? Yes! …I’m kidding, no that’s not necessary. Unless you feel compelled to do so. In that case, go for it!
It’s not wrong to own things. It’s not wrong to have material possessions. And none of us want to get into a debate over how much or how little we should own. The Christian with the $100k house may criticize the Christian with the $200k house, but all the while how does the third-world Christian feel in his mud hut? The third individual is probably the least critical, though by this debate, he would have the most room to argue.
There will always be people with more than you and there will always be people with less than you. There’s no magic number. We can’t say “well, once you own a $200k house, you’re materialistic” or “if you own a shirt worth more than $50, you’re too caught up on possessions!” What if I own a $49 shirt? Whew, I’m in the clear …The point is, there is no line or magic number. We’re called to worry about ourselves, not others, so that’s what this is about.
When You Own Too Much
I think, if there is such a line that says when you own too much, it is when your material possessions affect your relationship with God. Personally, I think the person with a $200k house, who goes into her fancy study and reads her Bible every morning could likely have a closer relationship with God than the homeless Christian who judges other Christians for owning so many possessions.
It’s not about your possessions on earth, it’s about your relationship with God.
Owning less won’t automatically improve your relationship with Jesus, if you don’t take action.
You may own too much right now. You may think you need to start downsizing. You may be right, but you have to replace all of those material possessions with something else — ministering to others, starting a small group, feeding the homeless, reading your Bible or going into your prayer closet — those are just a few examples.
Don’t get rid of your stuff just to make people think you’re a good Christian.
Minimalism Isn’t Just Stuff
People often make the mistake of thinking minimalism is all about owning less stuff. That’s not all! Minimalism is a lifestyle. It could be as simple as defining the few things that are important to you and focusing on them, but minimalism means less, overall. Less stuff, yes, but also less gossip, less complaining, less commitments, and so on. It could look like this for you:
- Family and Friends
There’s your focus. You could add things like ministry, traveling and relaxation, but the point is, create your list of what’s truly important and make that your focus. Focus on what matters. If you don’t, life will focus for you, and that means you’ll be focusing on whatever is keeping you busy. Stop being busy, and start being productive with your time. Slowly begin to eliminate all of the things that don’t matter.
How to Start the Minimalism Journey
I think minimalism is great. If you don’t like labels, don’t call it that, but the idea of owning less and living more appeals to me. We’ve been on a journey to own less for years, and though we have bought a bunch of stuff, we have given away more stuff. And we buy less now than we ever have.
The first step of minimalism is to emotionally detach yourself. This is also the hardest step.
We have to realize that our memories aren’t held in the things themselves. What’s the point of keeping that old lamp that your grandmother gave you 15 years ago? Yes, she has passed away, but that lamp has nothing to do with your relationship. You’ll remember her without that lamp, trust me. It’s not the object that holds the memory. And you can always take a picture of it, if you must.
Minimalism is about getting rid of unnecessary possessions and freeing up your life. Here’s how to get started:
- Get rid of your storage unit. Whether it’s your garage or an actual paid storage unit, you don’t need it. Odds are you haven’t touched that stuff in over a year. Let it go.
- Get rid of your distractions. It could be video games, movies or computer programs. Get rid of the things that take away from your most important things listed above.
- Get rid of your excess. The books you don’t read and won’t read again, the clothes you know you’ll never wear. Whatever it is, get rid of what you no longer need.
- [Extreme] Get rid of your TV. At minimum, cut the cable. We still have our TV, but we only use it to watch educational videos and movies together as a family.
- [Extreme] Get rid of your car. If you live in a big city with public transportation, do you really need a car? If you’re in more of a rural area, keep the vehicle.
You can go extreme, or just get rid of a few things. Take a mental inventory of what you own and figure out if you need that much stuff. Don’t compare yourself or your stuff to others, just decide if there are some things you can get rid of, and some things you can live without buying again.
Further Bible Study
Further Book Reading
- The More of Less by Joshua Becker
- Less: A Biblical Guide for Living Joyfully With Less Stuff by Spencer Bernard