You’ve probably never heard of Doug Hampson or Rodger Dudding, but they’re two of the most successful businessmen in British history. Their product: empty space.
Thirty years ago the self-storage business didn’t exist in the UK. In fact when the industry originated in the US in the 1960s, many scoffed at the preposterous thought of people paying money to rent space to store things they never used.
Those scoffers aren’t laughing any more.
In fact, psychologists reckon our lives are crammed full of six times more stuff than the generation before us. Not just with material things either; what with work, friendships, hobbies and responsibilities we’re a maxed-out bunch.
Perhaps a more effective way to live, rather than trying to find more ways to cram more things into more days, is to look for opportunities to create space in my life instead.
A study by Oxford University recently found that when you fall in love with someone, on average you lose two friends. To put their research more simply, in order to pursue something really good, there are other good things we just don’t have the time or capacity to keep up.
I’ve been wondering whether the same thing applies to following Jesus. When he called his disciples to follow him, there was stuff they had to give up; nets they had to drop, bags they had to leave behind (Luke 9:3; Matthew 10:10). If I’m to be the best disciple of Jesus I can, perhaps rather than trying to do more, maybe I need to drop more.
ChristChurch London is ten years old in October (wahoo!), and it’ll be one of those slushy, sentimental moments I’m sure, when we look back and reminisce together (How much hair did I have back then?!). But I hope it also gives us a moment to stop and dream about what the next decade might be about.
As we look ahead and imagine what we’ll all look like in 2024 (believe me, that’s not a universally pretty picture!), I wonder if what we’ve seen happen will be shaped more by how much we simplified our lives rather than how much we tried to cram in.
Too often since 2004, I’ve skimmed in life – trying to take on the world and ending up out of breath. I’ve realised that I can’t change the world, but perhaps I can change my world, and perhaps the best way to do that is by focussing on doing a few things well rather than lots of things mediocrely. After all, even in the healthiest plants, it’s pruning that brings about more growth. Didn’t Jesus say something about that? (John 15).
Time to get snipping.
Image: Scissors by Mike Paradise, used under CC