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About this series
Doing Less, Loving More
Most of us live very complex lives that move too fast, deliver too little, and demand too much. We often succumb to the push and pull of all the demands. We lack time for God, relationships, or ourselves. We know we need to change our pattern of life, but we either put it off or just don't know how to get started. In the end, there's a key question we need to ask and answer: What do we want to be known for? It is possible to break free from the high speed, high pressure, high demand, guilt-producing disease of our lives. The answer is counter-intuitive and it's found in 1 Corinthians 13. Discover what is needed to enjoy Spiritual Simplicity in today's fast paced lifestyles.More from this series
I’ve observed something. I’ve observed there’s a dance that is done – it’s done all over the country. In fact, many places around the world. And I call it the Silicon Valley Shuffle. The music is very, very fast. The rhythm is very, very upbeat. And the people, I mean, they dance with intensity and passion. And often to the point of fatigue. There are four words that describe the Silicon Valley Shuffle as I watch it at times in my own life and in the lives of lots of friends. It’s bigger, better, faster, and more.
And so, we live at a pace where, if you don’t work till, if you don’t want to work till seven or eight o’clock at night, go work someplace else.
And then, pretty soon, you think about well, you’ve got to do that with your kids. So, if they’re going to be really good, you’ve got to start them young so, like, at two years old they’re playing soccer. You know, three years old, they can’t pick up the bat but they’re trying to get it off that tee ball.
And you know what? If you really want them to do well, then you get that tutor. I have a friend, who told me his parents got him a tutor in the sixth grade and half a day, every Saturday, he was preparing for the SATs.
His sister scored a perfect score on both the SAT and the ACT. Went to an Ivy League school, and now has changed her phone number twice and has no contact with her family. Does not want to ever talk to them ever again.
See, the Silicon Valley Shuffle is about pressure and about demand and about making it happen. And it’s very unconscious and the music is always playing, 24/7. Wherever you’re living, there’s this pressure. It’s got to be better. It’s got to be bigger. It’s got to be faster.
And then if it gets better and bigger and faster then you look at what you’ve got and then it’s got to be more. And the music just speeds up. And it produces something. It produces this desire to be all and to do all and to have it all. We don’t say it, but our lives reflect that I’ve got to be it all. I’ve got to do it all. I’ve got to have it all.
And you’ll notice on your notes, I put three things that, over time, this will produce. It’s created a very, very complex world that moves too fast, that delivers too little, and demands too much.
When I sit quietly with people of all ages and whether they’re in high school or whether they’re running a company or whether school has just started and they’re driving all over the place with all the different demands.
The push, the drive, the demands. Over a time, they produce fatigue that is high, margin that is thin, relationships that are shallow, families that get fractured, marriages that drift, loneliness that reigns, addictions that surface, people who get hurt, kids that get neglected.
And our souls have a dis-ease. Not just a disease, but your soul doesn’t have peace. You lose your grounding. You lose that sense of: I’m where I need to be, moving at the pace I need to be moving.
And pretty soon, you can feel the relationships aren’t where they need to be, and whether you’re a parent with your kids or with your spouse or whether you’re a single person and realize, you know, I work a lot of hours and I have a lot of superficial relationships.
But a deep friend and time for you and time for God and time for authenticity and time for depth seems to be something that you keep pushing out that you’ll do that when this deal is done, and you’ll do that when you go public or you’ll do that as soon as you finish this project. Or right now, you know, they’re in diapers, you’ll do that when they get out of diapers. And then pretty soon, they’re teens and you’ll do that when they get off to college. And, here’s what I can tell you. “You’ll do that when” thinking, someday, someway, somehow. And that “when” will not come unless you stop it and decide: I will simplify my life.
It’s interesting, the great majority of executives have a lot of vacation and rarely take much of it. Sort of an oxymoron, isn’t it? But, it’s because they’re indispensable. It’s because there’s never a really good time.
But sometimes on a vacation or a mission trip or a men or a women’s retreat, where sometimes God intervenes in His love and a stroke that doesn’t kill you, a biopsy report that comes back positive, a car crash, a little scare when, it started with a couple glasses of wine to wind down and now, you’re becoming this person that you didn’t think you could ever become as you cope. And in a crisis, or in a time where you get alone with God, I’ve had men and women over and over and over tell me, they said, “I’ve got to slow down. I’ve got to get some margin in my life. The things that really matter, I can see, are fleeting and going away.”
And the momentum and the speed of what’s happening in all the relationships with God. I mean, how can you not have time for God who made you? How can you not have time for the person that you said, “Till death do us part?” How can you not have time for the people that, half of their DNA is yours? How can you not have time for people that want to love you and care for you and be great friends?
So, the question I want to ask and answer with you is, is it possible to break free of the high-speed, high-pressure, high-demand, guilt-producing dis-ease of our complex lives?
I took the word “dis-ease” because, it means something’s wrong. And I put the hyphen in it because there’s sort of a dis-ease. There’s a lack of ease. There’s a lack of sense of pace. There’s a lack of peace.
And when you have a physical disease, what do you do? You go to the doctor, right? I mean, your temperature goes up, you feel terrible, and usually, if you’re doing the Shuffle, you say, well, “I’ll just get through this, I’ll keep going to work.”
But eventually, you go to the doctor and when you go to the doctor, you want a doctor who does something very, very important: to make a proper diagnosis before they give you a prescription. Correct?
I mean, if you went and say, “I don’t feel very good.” He goes, “Hey, I got some pills on that shelf, take these.” “Well, wait, wait, doc, doc, hold on.” Or, “You know what? I’m really struggling with,” and you tell him one thing and he goes, “Good. Tomorrow morning, six a.m., surgery.” You’re going, “Whoa!”
See, the key to the right prescription is a proper diagnosis. You want him to really figure out what’s wrong before they start pumping drugs in you or cutting you open.
And the same is true spiritually. So I want to take you this morning to just a little stop to the “simplify your life” doctor. And in order to do a little diagnosis, I’m going to ask, like a doctor does, right? When you walk in, he goes, “Well, how long you been having this? Is there any of this in your family? Tell me about your diet. Tell me about your exercise. Do you have any stress in your life?” And then you laugh.
But they ask a lot of questions. That’s how they do a diagnosis. And so, the question I want to ask you is, is what do you want to be known for? That’s the first question because there’s something behind the bigger, better, faster, more. Bigger, better, faster, more.
There’s something in you and something in me that creates this momentum and this drive and this pressure and this demand and part of it is going to be rooted in: what do you really want to be known for?
And we heard it. I want to be known as a kind and loving person, I want to be known as a person who’s fair. Other people would say, I want to be known to be a great mom or a great dad or I want to be known as an excellent student.
I want to be known, as one person said, a person who solves some problem, is very knowledgeable. I want to be known as someone who’s very wise. I want to be known as someone who’s…
And if you had to write down, “I want to be known for,” what would you write on your notes? What would you write?
Now, the problem with this question, it was kind of interesting, is, we all have two lists of what we want to be known for. There’s the list that when, someone like me asks you this, I mean, no one is writing, “I want to be known as an axe murderer,” okay? I’m thinking we’re okay on that one, right?
But I’m figuring there’s not a lot of you who say, “I want to be known for being a driven, over-extended, hurried parent, who doesn’t connect with my kids.” Nah, that’s not a good one. “I want to be known for a very successful businessperson who has been through two or three marriages.” No, no, no, no. “I want to be known for someone who’s way too busy to have any meaningful deep friendships.”
See, what I’m going to say with my lips and what I intellectually want to be known for is one list. And then, your schedule and my schedule and your words and where your time and energy and money goes is a separate list.
And the bad part about life is like when we go to the doctor. When they ask, “How are you eating?” We tell them stuff like, “I think pretty good. I mean, fairly healthy. You know, I roll out of bed, coffee, no breakfast, get a danish, have a candy bar at noon, and eat a decent supper. I mean, isn’t that good?” Not that I do that, I’m just, that was hypothetical.
Do you see the difference? Well, let me ask one more question. If you could get it down to one word, just one word, what would you want to be known for? And I realize that’s super hard, but if there was one word that could describe you,
One word where, if you’re a parent, your kids would say, “This describes my dad or my mom.” Or if you’re married, your spouse would say, “This is what, the one word that epitomizes what, when I think of my mate, it’s this.” Or one word that really epitomizes what my closest friends think of me, what would it be?
Got it? I’m going to suggest that there might be a lot of good solutions, but there is one word that, no matter what word you came up with, if it’s not this word, that your word is a distant second.
And not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to be a good mom or a good dad or a hard worker or a successful businessperson or to start your own company or to be a great athlete or a great artist.
Those desires are fine, but you can do – if you could fulfill all those desires, but if you didn’t fulfill this one word, according to God, all of those are not like a close second, they’re like, such a distant, distant, distant second. If this one word does not describe my life and your life, we will find ourselves missing what matters most. And I’m convinced, the only way to simplify your life, is to get clear on what really matters.
The apostle Paul would write one very, over-arching principle. And he’s going to tell us that anything minus love is nothing. Anything. Any success; anything powerful. And then he’s going to tell us, put another way, that everything minus love is nothing.
And you might say, “Well, Chip, well, where did you get that?” The apostle Paul is writing to a church. I mean, they’re high capacity, they’re very gifted, they’re situated in a part of the world that, where they, I mean, they have just great influence.
It’s the Corinthian church but, I mean, they have a lot of Shuffle problems. They have dysfunctional relationships. The things that matter most aren’t going very well.
And so, there apparently was, maybe, a tattle-tail. A good tattle-tail who, sort of said to Paul, “You know that church? They’re not doing very well. Here’s all the issues.” And the first four or five chapters, he talks about: they’re suing one another and there’s divisions and it’s, all the things about living the way Jesus said, they’re just not doing very well. “It’s not what you taught.”
And then later, Paul gets a letter and they have a number of questions. They have questions about marriage and questions about singleness and questions about divorce and questions about lawsuits and questions about the Lord’s Supper and questions about all kinds of things – the gifts of the Spirit and spiritual maturity.
And so, Paul is writing this letter to address all these specific issues. And one of the issues, he opens it up in chapter 12, verse 1. He says, “Now concerning spiritual…” Now, you, most of your Bibles, you can actually open up, because we’re going to go to chapter 13 in just a second.
But if you open your Bibles to chapter 12, I want to give you some context here. He says, “Now concerning spirituals.” Literally, it’s spirituals. Now, most of your Bibles will say spiritual gifts because when it’s not completely clear it’ll be in italics. And then 12 is about gifts and 14 is about gifts.
But if you study all through those chapters very carefully what you understand is, the major overarching issue of chapter 12, 13, and 14 isn’t gifts. It’s spiritual maturity. Or, what’s it mean to be spiritual?
Because, the Corinthians believed that what made you spiritual was, they were really into the gift of tongues – speaking a language that they hadn’t learned – and they felt like really spiritual people had this gift.
Paul will argue in chapter 12 that that may be a very important gift, but the most spiritual gift is prophecy, because it benefits other people and it reveals God’s truth.
And look at chapter 12, look at the very end, look at verse 31. He says, “Now,” he makes this, talked about all the gifts and their role in spiritual maturity. And then he says, “Now let me show you a more excellent way.”
And then he opens it up and he says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I’m a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have faith that can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all my possessions to the poor and surrender my body to the flames but have not love, I gain nothing.” Could you go in your notes and just underline: “but have not love,” “but have not love,” “but have not love.” Three times. Right?
“But have not love.” And did you notice the progression? It goes from not very good to bad. Then to worse. And so, he takes that gift that they esteem, and he says, “This ability to speak in another language that you haven’t learned, if you could even speak it in angel’s languages, but if you don’t do it with love, I mean, you guys really think this is the biggie? If you don’t do it with love, you just become like a gong and clanging cymbal.”
And he’s referring to their background. In their background in pagan worship, they believe that you had to wake up the gods. And the way they would wake up the gods is they would start their pagan festivals. Is they got, bong, bong, ching, ching, ching, bong, bong. And they would make all this noise that didn’t have any music or any sense to it to get their god to wake up.
And so, Paul’s giving a little dig to them because there’s not love in this group. They’ve got a lot of gifts. They treat each other badly. They gossip about each other. There’s division. There’s disunity. They’ve got all kinds of dysfunctions in this church.
And he’s saying, “You want to really be spiritual?” He said, “If you had this greatest, greatest gift ever, that you think is so hot, without love, you just basically come like the beginning of your old, pagan worship services.”
And so, actually, it produces nothing. Then, notice he goes on to say, “If I have.” So, he moves from a, performing, something that you do, to something that you possess. And then he goes back to his spiritual perspective of, if prophecy is the highest one, and he goes, even if you have that and you knew mysteries, you had all this knowledge. And you had this faith, you could trust God that, I mean, supernatural things would occur. If you do that without love, not only does it not produce anything, you become nothing. Think of that. That’s your essence.
And then, he finally says, “If you exercise,” I’m sure he’s thinking here, the gift of giving that he explains to them later. If you are so sacrificial in your giving, that I mean, it’s lavish. I mean, ten percent, you blew by that. Twenty percent, you blew by that. Fifty, sixty, seventy percent of your income. You’re lavish. In fact, you decide at one point in time you would actually lay down your life, allow your body to be burned, be martyred sacrificially. You are providing. But he says if you didn’t do it out of love, it profits you nothing.
I want to summarize love’s supremacy and what I’ve done here, I’ve taken a little bit of liberty because in the context, Paul is speaking to them about the focus they need to have. They lived in a complex world. They were a very gifted church. They had a lot going for them.
And so, I wanted to apply this passage to us and so performing in your world with the greatest gifts and abilities without love, jot down, “produces nothing.” Performing. Some of us are good at performing because we have learned that when you perform you get strokes and affirmation. And strokes and affirmation, although it’s not like real love from in depth relationships, it feels pretty good and it’s a cheap substitute.
Second, possessing the best, the finest, the most amazing things you can imagine, without love, you become nothing. Now, in the context here he was talking about possessing these amazing gifts.
And what you possess in terms of position and privilege and what you possess in terms of the esteem of other people and what you possess in terms of reputation and how old are you and how quickly are moving up? And what you possess in terms of your little kids and can they hit the ball or run faster or farther than other little kids?
And those, what you want to be known for, these get into the things that drive you. This is why so many people are living in SUVs and eating fast food five nights a week – from minivan to minivan, from practice to practice.
This is why people don’t eat dinner together and don’t have time to eat dinner together and why couples see each other briefly in the morning, see one another with blurried eyes, and re-connect, not very well, at ten o’clock that night. And keep thinking, okay, there’s more to do, there’s more to get done, the to-do list is longer, I’ve just got to keep it going. And then the lie, but when this season is over, it’s always just a season. But seems like the seasons stack up on one another.
And third, sacrificially providing for those you love, the neediest. The greatest cause on earth, without love, profits you nothing. I mean, a lot of us, with our motives and our heart, it’s not we’re trying to live insane paced lives. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who’ve said, “I’ve tried to slow down, I’ve tried…and I just keep getting pulled back into the rushing river of movement, demand, push, go, make it happen, innovate. You’re losing it. Market share. What about this? Providing?”
And so you want to provide for your kids this, and provide for yourself this, and provide that, until you can accumulate and… Now, listen very carefully. Every time you buy into a lie, and the biggest ones are so subtle, they’re coated with such significant amounts of truth, that you feel like you’re between the rock and the hard place and you can never get out.
Here’s what I wrote. Many of us live very hurried, overextended, complex lives with shallow, superficial relationships, even with our closest friends and families, because we have unconsciously learned to believe performing well, possessing much, and providing stuff is what life is all about.