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Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul

Compiled by Chuck Olson



Title: Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul

Author: Bill Hybels

Copyright Date: 2014

As a leader, perhaps you are in a season of “too much.” Too much to do. Too much on the calendar. Too much stress. If so, help is on the way. With insights that make you wonder if he’s been looking over your shoulder, author and pastor Bill Hybels in his book Simply: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, provides spot-on assessments and realistic strategies for crafting a leadership life that makes sense.

My guess is that a quick review of these Book Notes will be all you need to convince you that this is a book to place on your ‘next read’ shelf.

Book Description:

Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Overscheduled. Sound familiar?

Today’s velocity of life can consume and control us . . . until a breakneck pace begins to feel normal and expected. That’s where the danger lies: When we spend our lives doing things that keep us busy but don’t really matter, we sacrifice the things that do. What if your life could be different? What if you could be certain you were living the life God called you to live―and building a legacy for those you love? If you crave a simpler life anchored by the priorities that matter most, roll up your sleeves: Simplified living requires more than just cleaning out your closets or reorganizing your desk drawer. It requires uncluttering your soul. By eradicating the stuff that leaves your spirit drained, you can stop doing what doesn’t matter―and start doing what does.

In Simplify, bestselling author Bill Hybels identifies the core issues that lure us into frenetic living―and offers practical steps for sweeping the clutter from our souls.

Book Quotes:

Increasingly, whether I’m speaking with leaders at home or abroad, at Willow Creek or in other circles of my life, I hear the same words repeated over and over: exhausted, overwhelmed, overscheduled, anxious, isolated, dissatisfied. LOCATION: 97

Simplified living is about more than doing less. It’s being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus. It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favor of the few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created. It’s a lifestyle that allows us, when our heads hit the pillow at night, to reflect with gratitude that our day was well invested and the varied responsibilities of our lives are in order. LOCATION: 117

If you crave a simpler life anchored by the priorities that matter most, roll up your sleeves: Simplified living requires more than just organizing your closets or cleaning out your desk drawer. It requires uncluttering your soul. LOCATION: 126

Your heart and mine yearn for an antidote to all the drivenness and busyness in our lives. The antidote isn’t getting it all done in the kitchen—or the office, or the mall. The antidote is leaving that stuff—sometimes undone—to sit down for an unrushed conversation with Jesus. LOCATION: 204

Depletion harms the people around me, and it damages my soul. LOCATION: 255

I warned you: The path to simplicity is not for the faint of heart. It’s a process that requires total honesty. So let me pose the question: How depleted are you? How long has it been since you have felt fully replenished? LOCATION: 270

Exhaustion runs rampant among pastors. This subject comes up in every city, every country, every culture, and every language group in which I’ve had the privilege of doing some mentoring and training. It’s a universal theme. LOCATION: 278

How about you? Can you recall a time when you were living that way? When you were replenished and filled up? When you were living soulfully, restfully, creatively, lovingly, playfully, prayerfully? LOCATION: 293

Some of us, when we get depleted, escape into movies, cheesy novels, or television. We waste hour upon hour trolling Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, admiring others’ lives instead of living our own. LOCATION: 316

What sorts of things fill your bucket? What refuels you? What activities or engagements restore your energy levels? What do you need to do to start pouring new streams of replenishment into your badly depleted life? What relationships inspire you? What do you read that elevates your perspective? What in your life is actually a bucket-filler for you? LOCATION: 329

When your tank is empty, you have nothing to offer anyone else. You can’t give what you don’t have. Engaging in replenishment activities is not a form of selfish entertainment; it’s vital to the end goal of living your one and only life at its best. Be unapologetic about it. Prioritize and protect these replenishment streams in your life. LOCATION: 342

When you get depleted, it’s tempting to start looking around for someone to pull you out. But let me state with crystal clarity: It’s your responsibility to fill your bucket—not your boss’s, not your board’s, not your church’s, not your staff’s, not your spouse’s. It’s your own responsibility to keep your own bucket filled, to identify streams of replenishing energy that will take you from a depleted state to where your tank is filled to the brim and overflowing. LOCATION: 345

Being right with God and tuned in to Him and walking close with Him simplifies my life. It filters out all the noise of everyone else who wants my attention. LOCATION: 365

Depletion has got to stop, friend. When you’re at the bottom of your fullness bucket, you’re dangerous. LOCATION: 482

News flash: You are the boss of your schedule. It’s your responsibility to keep command of your calendar—and you must, in order to simplify your life. LOCATION: 545

Your calendar is more than merely an organizer for what needs to get done; it’s the primary tool for helping you become who you want to become. LOCATION: 554

At this stage of my life, with nearly four decades of church work behind me, I am still learning that my schedule is far less about what I want to get done and far more about who I want to become. Let me repeat: My schedule is far less about what I want to get done and far more about who I want to become. LOCATION: 614

Simplicity cannot be achieved without clarity about the big-picture target of your life. To create a schedule that reflects your most important life goals, you must begin with the right question. The question isn’t, “What do I want to get done in the next thirty days?” but, “Who do I want to become in this next season of my life?” Once we answer that key question, calendars and schedules are terrific tools for helping us accomplish our life goals, both interpersonal and practical. LOCATION: 670

Few things have the power to throw our lives into chaos like financial stress. An out-of-control financial picture leaves us vulnerable to unspeakable pain. LOCATION: 914

Debt comes from wanting more than God’s current provision for your life and arranging other ways to get it. LOCATION: 1084

You will never be able to simplify your life until you master your out-of-control finances. LOCATION: 1284

Being stuck in a miserable job complicates your life like nobody’s business. Examining your work life, therefore, is a significant step in simplifying your life…Conflict, frustration, poor decisions, chaos, inefficiency, and the emotionally toxic environment of a miserable job create an inner turmoil that robs you of peace. LOCATION: 1355

A satisfying, fulfilling, rewarding job that you love simplifies your life. When the main hours of your day are spent in a healthy work environment, doing worthwhile tasks that fit your gifts, talents, and skills, your energy level stays high, your emotional reserves stay filled, and you are a little more confident and joyful about what you contribute to the world than you were before you invested those eight or ten hours. LOCATION: 1375

When assessing your current job—or any job you might consider in the future—I find it helpful to filter the role or position through four foundational alignments: passion, culture, challenge, and compensation. LOCATION: 1380

Though passions vary from one person to the next, when it comes to finding a job that satisfies us, getting the passion alignment right plays a vital role. LOCATION: 1385

Aligning our jobs with our passions isn’t the only alignment that matters. The culture of your work environment also plays a vital role in creating true satisfaction and fulfillment. If the culture alignment is off-kilter, your job can quickly become a drain. LOCATION: 1410

Whenever I mentor leaders, I often ask this question: At what challenge level do you do your best work? Is it when you’re under-challenged, appropriately challenged, or dangerously over-challenged? I ask this question because operating at the optimal challenge level brings the deepest satisfaction. It can mean the difference between a job that leaves you feeling fulfilled at the end of each day and a job that leaves you either frazzled or bored. LOCATION: 1528

Sometimes we grossly underestimate the true cost of living with a relational rift. We think we can go about our lives unaffected by conflicts and fractures with people we care about; but this, of course, is far from true. Relational breakdowns extract energy from us. They take up head space and heart space. They hang over us like a dark, gray cloud. LOCATION: 1700

You can tell a lot about someone’s heart by how that person prays when he or she has been wronged. Your prayers provide a unique window into the true condition of your soul. In life and in death, Jesus valued people—even those torturing and killing Him. Before He breathed His last breath, He forgave the soldiers who killed Him. LOCATION: 1729

In a Category 1 offense, the “wrongdoing” is nothing more than a slight—if that—but the offended party has lost track of reality and the ability to see the other person’s perspective on the issue, and he or she has stepped into “poor me” mode. LOCATION: 1742

Being too easily offended or provoked is common to human nature. When I respond too strongly to a Category 1 offense, it makes me curious. Why did such a minor slight trigger such a disproportionate response from me? What’s going on inside me that needs exploring? Sometimes the source of my irritation is understandable, but the trajectory of my response is way too high. What’s that about? LOCATION: 1811

When I start poking around inside, asking for the Holy Spirit’s enlightening truth, sometimes I find there’s a legitimate issue that needs some attention—but I have let it come out sideways, rather than addressing it in an appropriate, mature way. Why? Or I’ll discover I took offense for reasons I’m embarrassed to admit: My ego was dinged, or my shortcomings were exposed, or I had unrealistic expectations, or an overinflated perception of my right to a trouble-free life. When this is the case, I’ll turn my focus from the offender to myself. I’ll investigate the area in my life that God is revealing, which clearly needs some work. LOCATION: 1814

Fear is the fundamental barrier to peace, and it’s a deal-breaker when it comes to leading a simplified life. Fear is debilitating. No matter how much we’ve simplified our calendars, relationships, finances, and the like, when fear strikes, the whole deal blows up. LOCATION: 2170

How can peace reign in your heart when you have broken the moral boundaries God has set—the boundaries He knows protect us from shame and remorse? Few things shatter our peace like moral failure. LOCATION: 2201

Destructive fear must be stopped in its tracks or it will undermine the life God invites us to live. History is filled with men and women who said no to destructive fear and changed the world. But imagine if they had given in to the paralyzing effects of fear on their lives. LOCATION: 2269

Imagine yourself, fully aware of the mission and vision God has placed in your heart to advance His Kingdom in this world, yet held hostage to phobias, irrational worries, and destructive fears of failure, harm, or rejection. If you don’t fulfill the mission God assigned to you, who will? LOCATION: 2287

Dr. Joseph Wolpe, a twentieth-century South African psychiatrist who dedicated his career to understanding the origins of people’s phobias, discovered that many people live their entire lives tormented by a particular fear rooted in a single traumatic event in their childhood. LOCATION: 2320

It’s heartbreaking to see how some people go through their entire lives held captive by debilitating fears. When you peel back all the layers of self-protection that cover up these destructive fears, you’ll often find one or two significant events at the core. These events may not even seem all that terrifying to the casual observer, but they were just scary enough to start tripping the dominoes, causing the person to erect walls of avoidance. LOCATION: 2338

A life verse is a short passage of Scripture that serves as a rallying cry to guide and focus the current season in your life, or your life as a whole. Carefully chosen after prayerful consideration, a life verse resonates with you in a personal way and serves as a lighthouse that continually guides you back to God’s mission and vision for your life. LOCATION: 3106

I hope by now you have made significant changes toward simplifying your life. You’ve identified areas where adjustments are in order, and you’ve crafted a game plan to bring about those changes. At this point, I want to invite you to frame your simplifying process in a new way—by thinking of your life in terms of seasons. LOCATION: 3419

When you get to the end of your life, you will no doubt ask yourself the same two questions: Am I right with my family? Am I right with my Maker? LOCATION: 4212

The job you have right now has the potential to supply you with all the purpose you need to feel fulfilled and satisfied in your role as leader—you just need to change the way you think about your job. Based on my work with thousands of leaders over the past two decades, I believe it comes down to this: The key is to see yourself as more than a mere manager. Begin to perceive your role as that of a career and life improver for the people you lead! When you take on that challenge, you’ll find your job overflowing with purpose. LOCATION: 153

Note: Should you wish to find any quote in its original context, the Kindle “location” is provided after each entry.

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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