THE MINIMALIST TONGUE

A breath-taking and beautiful truth about God is that He is a God who is ever inviting us forward into abundant life — or what Jesus called “life, and life to the full.”

Minimalism — or, in terms of a spiritual-discipline, “simplicity” — has been one of the more profound ways in which God has been inviting me more and more into “life to the full” over the past two years. It’s more than just getting rid of some possessions, or decluttering. That’s part of it, sure. But anyone can do that, and not be any different in the heart. The invitation of God through minimalism is this: the more and more we simplify, the more space we open up for life with God — the abundant kind of life; that “life to the full” kind of life. 

That’s heart-level stuff.

And here’s the beautiful thing about minimalism. The invitation doesn't end with material possessions. It often starts there, because, at it’s core, it’s a counter-cultural approach to life in the Western world that tells us we need to constantly consume something. The invitation of God through minimalism is an invitation to simplify every facet of our life so as to make sacred space for a “constant state of awareness of and connection to the Holy Spirit,” as John Mark Comer of Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon teaches. Minimalism, or simplicity, is just another way to achieve that ultimate goal of living in a constant state of connection to the Spirit, or to better “keep in step with the Spirit,” as Paul calls it in Galatians 5.

So, it’s not just possessions.

We can simplify our spending,

our time,

our schedules,

our daily routines,

our eating —

anything, really.

There’s really not an exhaustive list, here. Wherever and however the Spirit leads you is as unique as you. Be open. Again, our God is a God who invites into new life, not condemns into new life. Where could He be inviting you, here, through minimalism, or simplicity?

One of the ways in which He is inviting me through minimalism is through the simplifying of my speech. 

As you can imagine, this isn't an easy one. When I began this practice of simplifying my speech, my eyes were opened to just how much my excessive speech revealed about me. I found that I often would use my words to try to come across as "smarter" than I am, or as "more-caught-up" and "informed" than I really am, or as more "funny" than I really am; more whatever than I really am, or anything of the like. I would try to impress with my speech. I was trying to mask an insecurity and would worry about others’ opinions of me. All of that instead of trusting God with whatever others may think of me, and fully rest content in who He says I am.

In her book Abundant Simplicity, Jan Johnson writes, “… this less-is-more approach helped me see that I was using my words to convince colleagues to do what I wanted them to do and to impress friends with what I knew. I realized that my wordiness revealed a lack of trust that God would work without help from me.” Her words strike a chord within me.

What may your wordiness reveal about you, deep down? 

This isn't a guilt trip. Far from it. It’s an invitation to see just where God may be calling you to give up the exhausting lifestyle of trying to do so much with your words, and instead to release any and all outcomes to Him. It’s ultimately a trust issue.

It’s quite insane just how much Scripture speaks of the invitation to tame the tongue. Just read the Proverbs. Almost every chapter has something to say about the beauty of being quiet. 

One of my favorite pictures comes from 1 Samuel 3, where it says “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel's words fall to the ground” (emphasis mine).

What would it look like if none of your words fell to the ground — to not let one word go to waste? What would it look like to have speech that is described as nothing short of life-giving? Paul, in Ephesians 4, calls us to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

What would that look like?

If our speech only was helpful?

Was only edifying?

Was only building up of others?

Was only beneficial to all who may listen?

That’s life-giving speech.

In her same book, Johnson writes of Quaker founder George Fox and that “the fewness and fullness of his words” would even strike strangers with admiration. She goes on to write, “Not only did Fox speak little, but when he spoke, his carefully chosen words welled up from a single-focused heart, creating a clear and compelling effect. It was obvious to others that he treasured both God and them.”

Few.

Full.

Surgical.

Three words that I want to characterize my speech.

What words do you want your speech to be characterized by?