“New year, new you.”
This phrase is pretty much everywhere when a new year rolls around. The beginning of a new year seems like a natural time to start fresh and make some beneficial changes in our lives.
Yet 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. We assume that it being a new year will be enough in itself to drive us to make changes– and it’s not enough. The main problem actually lies in how we think about time.
Chronos vs. Kairos
When Jesus walked this earth, people in ancient Greek culture thought about time in two ways: chronos and kairos.
Chronos time is our typical, everyday time. It’s the root of the word chronological. It’s the normal passage of time, marked by hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Chronos time can be uneventful, or even boring.
Kairos time, however, is a special and appointed time. It’s when the big things in our lives happen– when God breaks into our world and we see God’s glory, or when we deeply experience the pain of living in this broken world on earth.
When we think that the passage of time in the marking of New Year’s will be the main catalyst for change in our lives, we are mixing up chronos and kairos time. We are assuming that time passing will be enough to motivate us to make big changes in our lives.
In reality, what we are truly longing for is kairos time– that special, appointed time when that big life change happens. And usually, people tend to be ready for change when something big has already changed in their lives. Graduation, relocating, change of relationship status, death of a loved one– big life decisions usually come on the heels of a big moment in our lives. Kairos times are typically what motivate us to change.
Now, that’s not to say that we can’t change during chronos time, but it does mean that we have to find a sustainable motivation. You are on this blog for a reason. You want to change. You want to live a simpler life, the life that Jesus is calling you to live. The time to make changes is NOW.
So how can we make changes to live a more Christian minimalist life during chronos time, rather than waiting for a special kairos time? Here are 4 steps:
1) Identify the Reason
Ask yourself the question: Why do you want to live a more Christian minimalist lifestyle? Is it to simplify in order to spend more time with loved ones? To have more breathing space in your house and your schedule? To meet a goal you’ve have for years but never got around to doing? Whatever your reason is, that is what will motivate you during chronos time. Your reason will push you to continue this lifestyle when it gets tough, because it goes against the grain of our predominant consumer culture.
2) Recognize Possible Obstacles
Take some time to sit down and list the possible obstacles in your life that could hinder you from making the changes you need to make to simplify and focus on what matters most. Knowing what your main obstacles are will help you to better deal with them when they come up. Your obstacles could be bad habits, other people around you, your relationship to media/technology– really, anything that is going to derail you. There’s no way to identify every obstacle, but if you prepare by identifying the main ones, you will be better off for it.
3) Set Practical Steps, Goals, and Deadlines
I don’t know about you, but when I have a broad overarching goal– like, say, live more simply– I tend to think I’ll get there eventually. But I never do. Setting up steps for yourself to meet goals, and realistic deadlines for those goal, will keep you on track to get to where you want to be.
My husband Will and I had the goal of getting rid of at least 50% of our possessions in 6 months. We broke down that goal and deadline into manageable steps (today we will minimize two drawers in the dresser, this weekend we will minimize the living room, etc.) Because we were intentional with setting steps, goals, and deadlines, we not only met our 6 month deadline– we got rid of 60% of our stuff! (If you try to make your goal/deadline and fall short, no problem! Just set another goal or deadline and work toward that. We all “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) sometimes.)
4) Set Up Accountability
You are much more likely to stay on the path of Christian minimalism while living in a consumer society if you have some sort of accountability process set up. Accountability could be simply tracking your progress on a calendar or on a habit app. It could also be in the form of an accountability partner— someone who can celebrate your wins and be honest with you when you are falling short. When someone or something is holding you accountable, you’ll be better equipped to get through the rough patches and stay on the right track.
God is With You and Doing New Things
Ultimately, you are on the Christian minimalism journey because you heard God calling you to make a change. And because God has called you to it, God will guide you in it.
We can’t do this alone. We need God’s help. This means regularly spending time in prayer, reading God’s Word in Scripture, and spending time with other people who can help us to hear God’s voice.
Forget the former things;Isaiah 43:18-19
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
God is doing something new in your life right now. It doesn’t matter what your life was like before– we don’t have to dwell on our pasts. God is giving you the help you need to be a new person NOW.
Change is almost never easy, but God wants us to live an abundant life (John 10:10) in which we are able to focus on what matters most– serving and loving God and others in Jesus’ name.
How is God calling YOU to a more simple life in Jesus Christ?