Bernie Anderson
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Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Sunday Sermonizing: Spiritual Essentialism

Essentialism by Greg McKeown has quite possibly been the most influential business book I’ve ever read. It’s an easy read. It’s a difficult practice. But oh, so important.

The “big idea” is “weniger aber besser.” Less, but better. The implications of this principle are bigger than a big idea. They’re enormous.

As we travel throughout Southeast Asia this month, I’m seeking to do less, but better. Not always with great success. It’s an ongoing journey.

Jesus said, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:5

I think about this passage a lot. It’s a passage of Scripture that’s also shaped my life for a long time. Jesus gives some incredibly clear principles that I sum up like this:

  1. There is only one way to bear a lot of fruit in the Christian life: a genuine relationship with Jesus.
  2. If this is so, maintaining a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing we do.

This is spiritual essentialism. Without going into the deep and beautiful and critical theology of redemption and grace and regeneration and man and sin and Trinity (and you get the idea. There’s a lot in a theology book), this is how I boil the Christian life to it’s bare essential.

And it’s so simple.

And it’s so difficult.

Because of everything. (And I mean everything.) Everything is out to kill and destroy our connection with Jesus.

So, this is where the principles of “Essentialism” become - essential. If we actually believe John 15, then the first priority of our lives becomes maintaining a growing relationship with Jesus and that gets super practical.

The things that interfere with and break down my connection with Jesus, and thus breakdown my relationship with Jesus, are non-essentials. They are detriments. They must go.


Sometimes that means something as simple as rearranging my evening TV time so that I get to bed on time and can get up in the morning to worship God. Others times it’s tough. It’s tearing down idols and repenting in a way that declares beauty and grace.

So do what is essential. Ruthlessly eliminate everything else. Most of it is probably not that important anyway. “Priority” is supposed to be a word only used in its singular form, because it’s nearly impossible to have more than one at a time.

Become an essentialist in your life and your spirituality. You will live a more satisfying and powerful life.

You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less