Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of  Jill Savage and Mark Savage's book, Living with Less So Your Family Has More: Redefining Your Priorities to Put Your Family First, (Guideposts, 2010).

 

Our culture constantly says that you need more in your life: a bigger house, a newer car, better clothes, more activities. But none of that reflects what God says is most important: healthy relationships. Pursuing what truly matters requires living with less - not more - so you'll be free to grow closer to God and other people.

Here's how you can live with less of what our culture says you should want so you can live with more of what God says is important:

Pray. Ask God to give both you and your spouse a unified vision for how God would like your family's lifestyle to be. Open your minds to new, countercultural ways of thinking.

Define "less." You can focus on intentionally downsizing three parts of your life: money (choosing to earn and spend less money to free up more of your time), stress (refusing to give into the pressure to achieve what our culture deems success while aiming simply to be faithful to God), and activities (creating healthy boundaries to prevent your schedule from becoming overloaded with too much to do).

Define "more." List the specific benefits your family can gain if you all choose to live with less.  Those benefits can include: more availability, more peace, more patience, more kindness, more joy, better health, more organization, more energy and intentionality for parenting and also for focusing on marriage, more attentiveness, more time, and more margin to allow for spontaneously interacting with your family members.

Check your speed. Ask yourself some key questions to determine whether or not the pace of your life is too fast right now. How often does your family eat dinner together? How much time do you spend with God in prayer, actively playing with your children, going on dates with your spouse, exercising, investing in friendships, pursuing hobbies, and doing volunteer work? Slow down enough to enjoy what matters most in life - relationships.

Live by convictions rather than responding to pressures. Seek God's guidance every day about the decisions you face, and ask Him to empower you to make the right choices instead of giving into cultural pressures to choose something that doesn't reflect God's values. Read the Bible often, listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to you, participate in a church community where you and others can encourage each other to live in counterculture ways, and invite God to convict you of sin in your life so you can confess it, repent from it, and receive God's forgiveness and strength to grow.

Find contentment. Overcome envy, jealousy, or covetousness by confessing these sinful attitudes to God and asking Him to forgive you and help you be content in whatever circumstances you encounter. When you're tempted by a desire for something you don't have, ask God to remind you of what you already do have, and thank Him for that.

Make constructive sacrifices, but avoid destructive ones. Making certain types of sacrifices can benefit your family by freeing up more time for them. These include: comfort, sleep, hobbies, entertainment or recreational activities, and career pursuits. However, be sure not to ever sacrifice your relationship with God, your marriage, or your identity, because doing so would harm your family.