Learning to be an Essentialist

I over commit. I do it at work, at home, with my friends and yes most importantly, in ministry. So if you’ve been stretched too thin too many times like me, I recommend you read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

I’ve had this idea of “decluttering” my life for a while now. I’ve always been tagged as a Jane-of-all-trades kinda girl and it always worked to my advantage. ‘Til I get so busy with other people’s agenda that I lose sight of mine. I read this book at a time when I was transitioning to a  new job and experiencing other new things. The  book is divided into 4 parts that will inspire readers to make Essentalism a mindset rather than a step-by-step program or tactic. For me, this book helped me re-prioritize, focus and be empowered to say NO.


According to the McKeown, the first step is un-committing.  The key is to stop making casual commitments and eliminate our FOMO or Fear of Missing Out and gain the Joy of Missing Out. I’ve learned that there is value in elevating quality rather than quantity. I’ve been burned too many times by providing subpar outputs rather than a few excellent ones.  Mckeown’s advice is to ask ourselves this: “If I had a week left to live would I value this?”

In the past, I always do all that I can in ministry, and I can do a lot. Eventually, this led to a Martha-Mary scenario and I just had to step back and re-prioritize. Philippians 2:14 was my guiding verse; Do everything without grumbling or arguing.


Today, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not just information overload; it is opinion overload.

A lot of times, I’ve allowed what other people think cloud my judgement. So when the author emphasized on zoning out the noise, I was sold. I was just learning how to focus on the important and I got excited that a whole chapter was devoted on Escaping. I usually am able focus when I escape. I fast from social media and sometimes literally escape to a place where the signal is bad, the food is good and far away from my people. It’s always a great experience plus I come back with a clear and focus mind.

This “step”, I also do when I feel like my faith is wavering. When  I let the noise and the busyness get in the way of my quiet time, I usually need a day or so to step-back and remind myself to FIXATE on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2!

Empowered to Say NO

This is my favorite line in the book:

The right “no” spoken at the right time can change the course of history.

I used to think that I can’t say no to church related activities because it would mean saying No to God. Silly me. Now I know that saying no to ministry means saying no to the work and not to God.

Mckeown said: It’s a good idea to recognize the value of contemplation versus impulse.

When I read this, Proverbs 3 was impressed upon me. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. It’s a hard discipline to pray first before saying yes or no on anything, even on small things. Now I know this is such a wide array of scenarios, and I won’t get into it, so for now, let’s focus back on the book. #Essentialism I’m not saying we all say no to ministry, maybe it’s better to practice a delayed yes in order to make room for discernment.

These principles being put into practice,  allowed me to enjoy my essential roles in ministry, my work, but most importantly my relationship with God.I pray you get to experience a personal encounter of being in His presence too.

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