Over seven years ago, my family and I left home ownership behind for ministry—to live in a parsonage starting out. After 2.5 years, we relocated for another ministry, and then two years later for another (our current). Each time, we’ve lived in either the church’s house or a rental house. Just yesterday, we closed on our very own house—the first we’ve owned in over seven years—for what we believe, and hope is our final place of service—the Glendale Road Church of Christ. We could have bought a bigger, newer home, but my wife and I decided something—we decided to be minimalist. The more you have, the more you have to take care of. We didn’t want to be consumed with caring for a home when we might rather enjoy one another, or serve God. It’s a matter of economy and time management, but also a matter of self-denial.
We had sixty days to find a home. This was the time between being offered a job and then deciding to leave our current ministry with the excellent Lehman Avenue Church of Christ. We looked at several homes. Many were dream homes, to be sure. However, my wife and I decided to buy a nice, modest home for our family. We purchased a home that’s close to 1,400 square feet with one bathroom. Many people would cringe at the notion, but here’s our reasoning for becoming minimalist. Keep in mind, this may not be for everyone, but we decided that it was for us.
A large part of our country’s problem is that we take on too much debt because we want the biggest and the best. Make no mistake, our new home is nice, and compared to a significant portion of the world’s population, it would be lovely for the homeless among whom we counted our Lord (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58). The fact that God has blessed us with the means to become homeowners doesn’t mean that our home should own us because we bought something close to our budget’s cap.
We also believed that being more modest would not be a stumbling block to others. Let’s be honest, as a preacher, I’m dependent upon the cheerful giving of my brethren for my livelihood. Some brethren who give do so sacrificially while others do so out of their abundance. Some give out of limited and fixed incomes. Were I to live like a king while they give like the poor widow who sacrificed her last mite out of faith to God, I’d feel rather guilty. Sure, the worker is worthy of his wage, but the Lord, I think, is more pleased with modesty than extravagance—especially from a minister of His church who should preach such according to the Scriptures and also model such by his personal example.
My wife and I didn’t want to have more than we needed. I grew up in a home less than 1,000 square feet—a log cabin. I didn’t know that the house was small. It was cozy. It was home. Plus, a bigger home means more to clean, and more junk to accumulate that you don’t use or even care about. We didn’t want to do that. As a matter of fact, we’ve been on a purging binge. I’ve even given away some of my books. If you know me at all, you know how much I love books. We’d accumulated a lot of stuff that we didn’t wear or use, and it’s rather shameful considering that so many people do without.
Obviously, we wouldn’t impose our convictions on this matter upon others only because others may not be as tempted by consumerism and materialism and we have been. We only want to be content, because contentment with godliness is a great gain.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19–20)
If you’d care to learn more about minimalist living, check out Becoming Minimalist.