A lot of self-help books teach us that growth is the function of increasingly acquired skills, more relationships and expanded networks, sound investing and ways to create more streams of revenue, more degrees…that type of stuff. All great advice, and all operating under a similar basic assumption: 

Growth is about adding to what you already have.

Or in plainspeak: What you have now is not enough.

It’s a common feeling — one of inadequacy — and we struggle with it enough without the vast canon of self-help literature that emphasizes how whatever you have needs to be more (“and here’s some random number – let’s say 7 – things to do in order to make more”). But what about growth in marriage, or growth in relationships with friends and family? What about growth in a vocation, or our own spiritual growth?  What we discover is that the metaphor of “More” works great in the marketplace, but breaks down for all the stuff that means the most to us:  Family, Core Friendships, Purpose, God. Quantity means very little in these areas.

One possible alternative is to look at the quality of the things we currently have. Sounds obvious, right?  One good friend is better than 10 mediocre ones (and 1 spouse is plenty!). But seriously:  take a look at the quality of the most important things in your life. Your most significant relationships. Your most essential skills. Your spiritual quest. What type of attention are they receiving?

New Year’s Resolutions usually revolve around quantity:  I’m going to lose 15 pounds, or, I’m going to save this much, or, I’m going to do this or that MORE. I’ve decided to start 2012 different. Instead of looking for more, I’m researching how good a job I’m doing of appreciating what I have. I don’t need more money:  I need to be more responsible with the money I have. I don’t need more friends:  I need to reconnect and love the friends I have (and let them love me). Instead of more family, perhaps we need to deal with the tension within our current system — the toxicity — that is disturbing the quality of our current relationships. You may not need to meet any new people in 2012, but you may need to reconcile with 2 or 3.  What am I saying?  If the New Year is about making resolutions, instead of resolving to add, let’s resolve to resolve.

Let’s all spend a few moments within our selves examining the quality of these various spheres of life.  Don’t put a number on anything; first ask the question:  How can I grow in this area, using what I already have?  I’m interested in this line of thinking — as individual selves and as a community.  The question of every new pastor is, “How will you grow the church?”  My answer:  We’re going to take good care of what we have now.  Because believe it or not, what you have and what we have together RIGHT NOW, is enough.  God will provide the rest.

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”     -Jesus (Luke 16:10)

Doing Better with Less (and Growing),
—Pastor Julian