“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth … but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven … for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:19-21
I recently was reading an article by David Loleng, “Generous Space”. In this article he talks about creating two spiritual practices which cultivate Christ-centered stewardship in our lives and in our church community.
The first is the discipline of simplicity. Simplicity, he says, “helps us to let go of our inordinate attachment to things (possessions, experiences, and achievements) and our insatiable desire for more.” Simplicity allows us to unclutter our lives of excess and practice things like frugality, contentment, thankfulness, sustainability, integrity, and generosity. This rings true for me. We downsized our house about six years ago. At first it was difficult to give up possessions, but then it became freeing. We were able to keep what we truly loved, and needed. Our houses in the United States have gotten increasingly larger with three car garages—which we can’t put cars in because they are full of stuff. We are addicted to consumerism and constantly want more. But in the end we are left feeling empty.
The second spiritual practice he described is to create “margin’ in our lives. Margin is like the margins on a piece of paper: no text on the top, bottom, and sides—just empty space. He says that we need to create similar space in our lives; we need to create “margin” so we have “time for leisure and rest and family and God and health.” He says that the great enemy of our spiritual lives is “hurry” which is symptomatic of a culture that “rewards busyness and overextension as a sign of importance.”
When we create margin in our lives we can be more generous with our time and talents. If we create margin our relationship with God and others will change and improve as will our health and our ability to join in Christ’s mission to improve our communities and world.. Again, this rings true. I have been over-involved in work, and other things that, with reflection, are unimportant.
I remember a trip to Disney World many years ago where I had to make sure we saw everything, and had to follow the schedule as identified in the “Unofficial Guide to Disney World.”. We saw everything—but were exhausted, cranky, and unsatisfied. Then we spent an afternoon at the pool, and that was the best day of the whole trip—we had been too busy, and once there was space in the margin we were able to just enjoy ourselves.
If we can cultivate the spiritual practices of simplicity and creating margin in our lives, we will be happier and more connected to our friends, family, church and God.
David Loleng’s full article can be found in “Stewardshp 101: An Invitation to Financial Stewardship” – it is from Luther Seminary.
He cites two books. First, “Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World” by Richard Foster. The second is “A Minute of Margin” by Richard Swenson.