Stress has reached epidemic proportions, robbing us of our health, our leisure, our relationships, and God's best for our lives. We live our lives at breakneck speed, unable to savor the beauty of God's creation, the gift of relationships, or the joy each day brings. We allow external forces to drive us, rather than the Holy Spirit of God. We are slaves to our jobs, our creditors, and Blackberrys. We forget that life is a gift, filled with moments that count for eternity. Life is about relationships—with God and others—not about things, schedules, or achievements. It is time to get back to the basics, to simplify our lives. Here's how to begin.
Acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ, spending time daily in prayer and His Word. Yield to His lordship in every area of your life. Participate in a local body of believers and involve yourself in worship, fellowship, tithing, evangelism, and service. When we put God first, other things have a way of falling into place.
Avoid credit card spending and pay off debt.
Consolidate your credit card debt into one low-interest payment. Pay off your credit cards in full. Track your expenses for a month and create a budget. For each purchase, ask yourself, "Is this a need or a want?" Remember, "The borrower becomes the lender's slave" (Proverbs 22:7, NASB).
Practice the Sabbath.
We cannot push ourselves physically, emotionally, or spiritually without it taking a toll over time. Be deliberate and schedule time for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual rest.
Understand where your time goes.
Make a list of how you spend your time. Do you spend two hours a day commuting? Consider moving closer to your job or finding a job closer to home. Stop spending time to save money. Is it worth your time to visit four grocery stores to save thirty cents on paper products?
Decide what is important.
Write down what matters most to you. Is it time spent with your family? Building friendships? Coaching your son's soccer league? We cannot do it all. Cut out what is inconsistent with your core values.
Declutter your space.
Clutter in our homes and offices can leave us feeling scattered, overwhelmed, and even confused. Go through your possessions and get rid of what you no longer need or use. Organize your remaining belongings. An orderly home and workspace will reduce stress and increase efficiency.
Learn to say, "No."
Ask yourself, "Am I taking on tasks that are not God's will for me?" Not every opportunity that presents itself is God's will for your life. Be discerning.
Listen to your body.
If you wake up with a headache or your stomach churns at the thought of one more deadline, your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. Listen to your body.
Don't be a slave to technology.
Do you really need to check your email ten times a day? Have you given your supervisor your cell phone number "just in case" she needs you on the weekend? Decide to let technology serve you, not the other way around.
Take care of yourself.
Your body is the "temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:19). Be diligent to eat right, exercise, and get eight hours of sleep each night.
Simplicity brings rich rewards: reduced stress, increased energy, and deeper relationships. It is not about deprivation; it is about doing with less that you might experience more. It is about deliberate, purposeful living and experiencing God's abundance.
By Mary J. Yerkes