Essentialism

In a recent sermon, I made a reference to a book about the simplification of our lives.  Someone asked me more about this book after the sermon.  I thought I’d share my thoughts on the book here.

I first heard about the book entitled “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown while listening to a podcast about leadership.  The person presenting on the podcast highly recommended the book.  I’m curious about the topic, so I decided to see what McKeown had to say.

I really appreciated the book.

His basic point, and it is well argued, is that we are in control of our schedule, and the choices we make.  And that in our culture, we equate “more” with “better.”  If we have more, do more, seek more, work more, play more….our lives become more fulfilled.

The opposite is true.  It is when we approach life with focus that we achieve more.  It is when we decide to do just a few things well, instead of many things with mediocrity, it is when we choose the way of the “essentialist” that we begin to move forward rather than stall.

McKeown writes: “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is asystematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.”

While at first glance, the book may appear to be written for a business audience, (and there is much for business to learn here) the concepts and principles of the book are applicable to anyone.

I was reminded of Jesus talking to the Pharisees, when they tried to trap him by asking which of the many, many laws was the greatest.  Jesus replied: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

It sounds like Jesus was an essentialist.

If I had any criticism, it may be that I think McKeown could have made his point in fewer pages.  (ironic, isn’t it?)  There seemed to be more here to prove his points than he needed.

Reading this book didn’t immediately change my life.  It didn’t cause a 180 degree in how I live.  But it gave me pause and caused me to think.  And I think there are elements I am going to incorporate into my life, as I work towards living more simply.

It’s worth reading!

Peace,
Pastor Todd

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