Learning From One of Histories Great Minimalists

January 18, 2013 in Simple Religion by Lorilee Lippincott

Image: by James Barker FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The following is a guest post by Grayson of A Parched Soul.  Enjoy!

“All the lessons are in the past. All the opportunities are in the future. Don’t miss either.” -Rick Warren

We are notoriously nearsighted when it comes to history. The history of minimalism is no different.

We think it’s a movement with very recent cultural roots, and to some degree this is quite true. But there were those who came before us who set the tone for living with less.

One man in particular stands out as a fascinating figure. His name is John the Baptist.

Regardless of what you think about the Bible, it is the most historically significant book there is. It’s allegories and themes have been picked up by everyone from Shakespeare to President Obama. Of course, there are many reasons why, but one of the reasons is its fascinating characters.

Of all the interesting characters in the Bible, John has always resonated with me in a very profound way. He was a strange figure who wandered through the desert dressed in clothes made of camel hair and eating locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4)

He was a minimalist in his clothing choices but also in his lifestyle.

And it’s the lifestyle part where we stand to learn much from John… unless you are big on eating locusts…

There are 3 things we can learn from John’s minimalist lifestyle:

  1. Minimalism is about more than cleaning your closet: John’s minimalism was about much more than dropping texting or packing up some boxes for Goodwill. It was about stripping himself of possessions, relationships or anything else that kept him from carrying out his mission. John believed he was the messenger fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy (see Malachi 3:1) and that he was clearing the path for Jesus who would soon follow (see Isaiah 40:3). His minimalistic lifestyle, which included eating off the land and wearing camel skin clothing, was an extension of that calling.
  2. Focus on others: He had a laser sharp focus on fulfilling what he believed to be his calling from God. And he did so by relying on little and giving much. John was interested in bringing a message to people he believed people needed to hear. Minimalism was not the endgame for John; it was a major tool in allowing him to help people. We would all do well to focus more on others and what we can do to serve them.
  3. Minimalism won’t be as effective on its own as it could be when paired with a higher cause: John did live a simplistic life. But he lived that way for a reason. That’s an important caveat. If you want to live a minimalistic lifestyle, you need to ask yourself why. Answering that question gives you what you need to sustain life change. It will give you something to hang on to in times of self-doubt.

About the author:
Grayson Pope is a Christ-follower, husband, and father, right in the middle of his story. But mostly he’s just a parched soul in search of God’s Living Water. You can follow Grayson on his blog and Twitter.

Thanks Grayson so much for sharing with us today!  I love point 3 and finding the reason for minimalism in your life.  Minimalism is never a goal, it is only a tool.