The Minimalist Guide to a Missional Lifestyle

When I wrote this blog about two years ago, I was trying to adjust to having a two-year-old and all the stuff that comes with one. Now that he is four, he knows how to play the “poor pitiful me” game in an attempt to get one more toy or gadget or whatever else he thinks he needs. Ugh! All the stuff is taking over!

Sad to say, I haven’t cleaned out much these past two years. So, as I begin 2015, I reread this blog for my own good. I hope you can benefit from it too! Just keep in mind I originally wrote this in March 2013. Enjoy…

I think it is interesting how storage units are everywhere filled with possessions that we can’t fit in our houses anymore. Weren’t these storage units originally meant to be temporary places to keep things?

A few years ago my wife and I committed to live our life at a minimum — a minimalist approach. We aggressively paid off all our debt, including our mortgage. We avoided accumulating things that we did not need. We began looking at possessions not really belonging to us. Instead, we saw ourselves as stewards of the things we had.

However, over the past two years, I hate to admit that we have accumulated a bunch of stuff again. Thankfully, we are still out of debt. The challenge is we were in a state of flux for 15 months while fostering our son. When we transitioned his bedroom from a pair of twin beds to a room suitable for an eight-month-old, I filled up my garage and attic with all kinds of things that I needed to keep.

Now that Spring is here, at least in Texas, I have the urge to purge. I sense a move toward living with less. Will Davis, Jr calls it an Enough Revolution in his book Enough. Great read by the way. He gives a list of 10 benefits for living with enough. My focus here aligns with number seven on his list — You’ll be better equipped to respond to need.

Here are some practical ways to succeed living a minimalist lifestyle:

  • Change Your Priority. It has to start here. You need to decide for yourself that you will live with only what you need. If someone else decides for you, you will never change.
  • Live Below Your Means. Once you decide to live this way, start here. In America, most families spend over 100% of their monthly income. Decide to live differently. Live on 80%, 70% maybe even 50% of your monthly income. If you take the challenge (get your whole family on board), make it a game. Look for ways to trim the monthly budget to reach your goal.
  • Buy only what you can afford. I don’t mean you can afford the monthly payment. I mean only what you can afford to buy — the whole thing at one time.
  • Sell or Give Away. Pick a room, closet, or other area in your house and get rid of everything that you have not used, worn, or looked at in the past year or so. If you have debt, consider selling the items to cut your debt.
  • Set a Dollar Limit. Agree on a dollar amount that will serve as a trigger. If you are considering purchasing something above the amount, discuss it first with your spouse.
  • Sleep on It. This is common advice. Do you apply it? I am known to take weeks before I buy something. Often I decide that I really don’t need or even want it.
  • Face Your Obsessions. This may end up painful. Shopping, buying, acquiring stuff that we don’t need is sometimes a way to hide from something else. You can decide to live with less, but if you are obsessed or even addicted, you will return to your ways of dealing with life.
  • You Might Want to Rent. Danielle loves the beach. Nearly every time we spend time at the beach she talks about buying a house there. I admit that it tugs on my heartstrings. Then, I do the math. We can rent a house on the beach a couple of months out of the year for a less than it would cost to buy and upkeep our own house. I don’t see us spending more than two months out of the year at the beach.

What does this all have to do with a missional lifestyle? “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”

Missional lifestyle is all about living your life sent to whatever context you are in. You live outward focused instead of inward. Look for ways to meet the needs of those around you. Those needs maybe of a neighbor, an orphan, a local charity, a church, a foreign missionary or project.

I hear people say all the time that if they had the money they would give it to reach this need or that one. Why not change the situation. Instead of wishing that you had the money to give, ask for wisdom about how to give what you do have.

Question for You: What other ways to live a minimalist lifestyle can you share?

I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “The Minimalist Guide to a Missional Lifestyle

  1. I could not agree more. This is our new lifestyle too. Loved the book “Enough”. It really is a good place to start when you want to change the way you look at “stuff.” It feels as if a weight is being lifted off of you when you lighten your load of stuff and frees you up to do so much more!

    • Hi Pat. I look forward to hearing more about your time in Guatemala!
      I think you hit it on the head — “lighten your load…frees you up to do so much more.” If that is our objective, then we will embrace living with less.

  2. I agree with everything you wrote, especially for those who live beyond their means trying to live the American Nightmare. But here is a question: How does an American live with only what they NEED? Is my hairdryer a need? The carpet in my house? Our three cars? Probably not a NEED…but they sure make life more comfortable and convenient. Perhaps a better question to ask is “am I USING this or HOARDING?” Better yet, “Is it serving a Kingdom purpose or distracting me from Kingdom work?” I find the more stuff I have, the less time I have…especially when it comes to technology. So I am all about being a minimalist. But God also gives us good gifts to enjoy, for our pleasure. So, while I heartily “Amen” our 21st century prophets that tell us to scale it down, live beneath our means, and use our resources for eternal purposes, I hope we don’t swing the pendulum so far that we feel false guilt whenever we do enjoy something that isn’t a “need”.

    • There definitely is a tension determining what a need really is. Your comment serves as a reminder to not take things to the other extreme. What is healthy here is the discussion that causes us to evaluate our lifestyle. Thanks!