Originally I planned to write about how creativity and minimalism are not mutually exclusive. Yet my heart kept being pulled in another direction: Stewardship. Ever since my grandfather died just over a year ago, it is something to which I have given a lot of thought. And I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the impact that his death had on my “switch” from simply being a minimalist, to a minimalist with a great focus on intentional living.
At my grandfather’s funeral, the one thing talked about most frequently was the fact that he had been a good steward. He was a steward of his time, his friends, his wife, his community, his finances and, in as much as he was able, his health. He took great care in building a life and a legacy that he could pass on to his children, and his children’s children. This fact has spurred a great desire within me to be a good steward as well, creating a life with purpose, vision, and meaning. Life is too short to do otherwise.
Stewardship is often heard as a legal term, one defined by Dictionary.com as “. . . a person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, an estate, etc.” Stewardship is also a Biblical principle, one that views everything that we are given (including our bodies) as gifts, things that do not fully belong to us. While we occupy certain spaces, we are called to care for and/or multiply each and every gift, thereby stewarding and leaving something for future generations. It is something I often heard discussed in passing while growing up within the church, but to this day, with the exception of Dave Ramsey (who comes from a debt free perspective), I have yet to hear a full teaching or sermon on the subject. Despite this fact, I see a desire for greater stewardship and/or intentional living being birthed out of a lack thereof.
When thinking about minimalism, most who are on the outside looking in will think of the movement as nothing more than decluttering. However, with minimalism and those who truly practice it, the focus isn’t necessarily on how many possessions you own – it really is on stewardship. Living with less is a symptom of discovering that things and shopping and “The American Dream” aren’t what really matters.
In the end, the bulk of our energies focus on being intentional with that which we allow to come into our worlds. It is also being intentional with that which we release into the world and/or create. It is being mindful of how we use our time, how we interact with others, and figuring out how to do the most with what we have been given without living in excess or gluttony. It is putting people before things, and leaving an impact on the world that gives rather than takes.
Because of my belief in stewardship and minimalism, I am learning to make intentional decisions – living in a 450 square foot studio, creating a budget that causes me to live below my means, only making purchase of things that I need and/or will use, eating and drinking foods that will allow me to live a healthful life, etc. The minimalist mindset may start with our possessions, but it often permeates every aspect of our existence.
As a challenge, I would encourage you to sit down and define a vision for the life that you want to steward. Then, start with one area of your life that is cluttered, either mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Take inventory of that area or room and be intentional with that space, defining it in terms that will allow you to reach your ultimate goal. If it is negative thinking, identify those negative thoughts taking up space, and throw them out (I will be writing on cluttered thinking in a later post). If it is finances, take inventory of where your money goes every month, and see where you can make cuts (especially if you are in debt). If it is time, take inventory of every obligation, real or otherwise, and choose those things which will bring you closer to who you want to become.
Each and every decision that we make in life is cumulative. Be a good steward. Make decisions today that would cause your future self and future generations smile.