I first read the article, “The Non-Essentials of Life” by Roberta Winter, wife of the late Ralph Winter, years ago. Since that time I keep coming back to it as a personal reminder and as a resource for those preparing for a life of mission.
Roberta outlines six principles for cultivating what she terms a “simple lifestyle.” She writes, “We don’t really need most of the things our culture would push off on us. Once we learn to resist social pressure, it is far easier to determine what we really want or need.” This quote strikes at the heart of my pampered American lifestyle. Too often my need for comfort and acceptance trumps my desire to structure my life around God’s call on my life.
If the previous quote isn’t enough to convince you to read Roberta’s article, then consider her summary principle, which is a further jab in the heart: “The foundation of the simple lifestyle is ‘the expulsive power of a new affection.’” Enough already! If you dare, click here to read the entire article
While Roberta’s target is finances and a material lifestyle, I wonder if the same couldn’t be asked of our walks with the Lord. If it came down to you, your Bible, and your spiritual practices, could you maintain a thriving and vital relationship with the Lord? In other words, are you a self-feeder capable of feeding others from your own walk with the Lord? I often tell missionaries-in-training to cultivate a simple spiritual life. I’m not advocating for a simplistic walk, but for a God-ward life that doesn’t depend too much on the easiness of our American Christian subculture. Podcasts, Christian books and music, and Christian community are not problematic in and of themselves, but if your walk is adversely affected when there is not the same level of access to these things, you may need to reassess and reconnect to the true vine of John 15.
Roberta Winter’s article is well worth your time. It is not a difficult read, but it is challenging. After you read and consider this article, I’d be interested in your thoughts as well.