Soul Decluttering

Welcome to Fuel – a new Crossway blog that aims to “fuel the soul” in the midst of our busy, crowded world. On a regular basis we will share encouraging and challenging reflections. In our first Fuel blog our Executive Pastor Scott Pilgrim offers some insights into “decluttering” our lives and focusing on things that matter most.

We’ve just moved to a new house and it’s great to get the chance to catch my breath after a hectic few weeks. It’s our second house move in just over a year and again it has provided us with the opportunity and challenge to declutter.

At the beginning of last year we made the big move from Newcastle to Melbourne. It was a stressful, stretching and exhausting process, but at the same time it gave us the opportunity to do a massive clean-up on the homefront. We filled two huge skip bins as we sought to significantly declutter and lighten our load for our southern move. This time around we’ve only travelled five minutes down the road and thankfully there has been less to dispose of, but there’s still been the need to ask the question: “Do we really need that?”

Megan has asked me that question with every move we’ve made when I pack my box of newspapers I’ve collected from around the world, stacks of old dusty books, my grandfather’s lawn bowls that haven’t been used in more than 40 years and other childhood memorabilia. Yes, some things are hard to part with! “One day the kids are going to love all these things,” I reply with a sense of declining optimism as the years roll by.

As we’ve physically hauled boxes and furniture into the moving truck and cleaned the house we are leaving, my mind has again been pondering the vital need for what I like to call “soul decluttering”. It’s that intentional process of taking stock of our lives – physically, emotionally and spiritually – and seeing where do we need to declutter, simplify and be refreshed and renewed by God’s Spirit.

It can be a challenging, even painful process, but it’s an essential practice if we are to live with passion and purpose. In the midst of our breakneck pace and crowded schedules we can load so much “clutter” into our lives and then wonder why we aren’t experiencing the joy, freedom, peace and purpose we all innately yearn for.

“Soul decluttering” requires intentionality, honesty, space and time.

As Bill Hybels writes: “Simplified living requires more than just cleaning out your closets or reorganizing your desk drawer. It requires decluttering your soul. By eradicating the stuff that leaves your spirit drained, you can stop doing what doesn’t matter and start doing what does.”

Today where may your life need some intentional decluttering?

From my personal and pastoral experience here’s a quick, but not at all exhaustive list, of some common areas that can so quickly clutter our souls and squeeze the life out of us.

• Unforgiveness
• Unhealthy & overcrowded schedules
• Unnecessary activities and commitments
• Unresolved conflict
• Unrealistic expectations
• Unhelpful relationships
• Unchecked motives
• Unkind attitudes (including a critical spirit)
• Unguided priorities (where we lose sight of purpose and vision for our lives)
• Unattended sin

Yes, there’s ten “Un’s” to consider, but better still let me encourage you to be promptable to the Holy Spirit and see what clutter he may personally reveal to you.

In Hebrews 12:1 we are reminded of the need to “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up”.

As I’ve been in the midst of our physical move over the past week it has been good to again pause and take the time to intentionally reflect on the importance of ‘travelling light’ in today’s busy, crowded and stressful world.

Today, how are you travelling? Are you carrying excess baggage? Are you overloaded? Are you weighed down? Where might you need some soul decluttering? Where may you need the Spirit’s refreshment and renewal?

As we sweep the clutter from our souls we provide the Holy Spirit more space to do his work, moulding and shaping us into people who look and live more like Jesus. As we declutter we intentionally simplify our lives so we can re-orient around Jesus’ purposes and priorities – the things that matter most in life.

Scott Pilgrim