Jeff Goins is Right: Less is More – More Meaningful and More Freeing

Kara Powell | Aug 26, 2013

“What happened to your ankle?”

I’ve been asked this question over a hundred times in the last few months as I’ve been sporting a stylish black ankle brace (which a colleague of mine at Fuller said looked like “spats”). Depending on how well I know the person, and how long of a conversation I have wanted, I’ve had one of two responses:

“I sprained my ankle” (which normally is greeted with a response of sympathy).

Or, “I sprained my ankle in Italy” (which is normally greeted with either sarcasm or something like, “Well, at least you had fun doing it”).

Yes, while traveling in Florence before speaking at the Willow Creek Association on Sticky Faith in Germany in late May, I twisted my ankle. It hurt. A lot. I was instantly on the ground, yanking off my shoe, with tears flowing. After a few minutes and some ice, I felt well enough to continue with Dave to our destination: the Accademia Gallery.

The Accademia Gallery in Florence is best known as the home of Michaelangelo’s most famous sculpture, the David. Since my ankle was still throbbing, while Dave visited some of the other art displays in the museum, I just sat and looked at David. For probably 30 minutes, I stared at Michelangelo’s masterpiece – the exquisite face, the amazingly muscular arms, a posture that was both relaxed and tense at the same time.

As I was reading Jeff Goins’ great new book, The In-Between, Jeff describes his own visit to the David. While he and his friends had at first been tempted to rush in, check out the statue, and head back out, feeling victorious that they had been able to cross off one of the “must do”s in Florence, they instead did what I did: they stopped and really soaked in the one piece of sculpture.

A few aspects of Jeff’s experience are different (and more virtuous) than mine: he spent hours looking at the David, and he did it by choice (not because of an injury). But his conclusion was the same as mine:

“When we began our trip, we were obsessed with more—more sights, more experiences, more stories. But now we realized more wasn’t better. Slower was better—fewer thrills, less hype, more memories.”

As parents and leaders, the start of fall brings a new season of busyness. For parents, it’s back-to-school nights, recalibrating for homework, and a new slate of fall sports. For leaders, it’s gearing up for small groups, special fall outreaches, and all the highs and lows this next academic year will bring our ministries.

I hope it doesn’t take you and me a sprained ankle to get us to sit. And look. And wait. Whether it’s sitting an extra few minutes with your family after dinner or cancelling that one drama skit you were planning for Wednesday night so that your evening program isn’t so rushed, how can you simplify this fall? What can you cut so that you do less, but appreciate it (and the people involved) more?

As Jeff well writes, “I’ve come to realize I want to live a life...that takes time to notice the things that other people are overlooking. One that slows down to sit and soak up the beauty.” And the God who created all that beauty.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.

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