Do You Need to Declutter?

I am by no means a housecleaning expert. If my wife, Connie, was reading this, she would agree — along with a great big laugh. I have, however, benefited from decluttering.  

Marie Kondo, in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, popularized the idea of decluttering. While her approach is more mystical than suits my taste, I do agree with her that ridding ourselves of excessive belongings can improve our lives.  

Last week I took a couple of vacation days to do some home projects. Some of the least expensive therapy available for ministry leaders is mowing grass and putting down mulch. One of my goals for the week was cleaning out our garage. Like most garages — a space designed to protect costly automobiles from the elements — ours has become a place where we store things we do not really need, but which we have in triplicate.  

My approach to garage decluttering, which I learned from my father when we had our annual basement cleaning, is to empty it of all its contents, then put back in the things you want to keep and figure out what to do with the rest. The result is that we have a garage that is useful and functional, and even enjoyable.  

Not only do garages need decluttering, but other places do as well. Office desks, bookshelves, file folders, glove compartments in cars, bathroom cabinets, closets and much more tend to be places where we accumulate things we don’t need.  

Here are five benefits to cleaning some of the clutter out of the physical spaces in your life:  

1. You are going to feel better. Clutter has a psychological impact on those who live around it. Connie has a knack for bringing order out of chaos. In 30 years of marriage, I have enjoyed the gift of coming home to a house that is orderly and organized. It feels good to come into a space like that. You will feel better when you rid yourself of some clutter.  

2. You are going to have more space for new things. I remember a time when my father-in-law was gathering up canned goods to give away to a food ministry. He said that when he gives things away to others, he makes room for God’s blessings to return to him. While we do not give to get — a product of the prosperity gospel — we do often discover that God replenishes what we give away.  

3. Others are going to have the things you no longer need. After decluttering our garage, we had a carload of items that were good and could be useful to others but unneeded by us. Connie discovered a pregnancy resource center near our home that was able to use the items we were getting rid of. Those things were taking up space and collecting dust in our garage, but now they can be sold to help this important ministry.  

4. You are going to be more productive. My decluttering excitement has spread to other areas — including my smartphone, calendar, files, bookshelves and more. As a result of getting rid of some things, I deleted nearly half the apps from my phone and shut off most of my notifications. My phone is now a tool for communication and ministry rather than a distraction from the people who deserve my time and attention.  

5. You are going to save money. One of the benefits of decluttering is that you will discover things that you didn’t know you had. I had no idea how much wasp spray or ant killer we had accumulated. The reason we had more than one of each is that when we needed it, we couldn’t find it and had to go buy another. When you cannot see what you have you are likely to go buy another one when you need it.  

Ecclesiastes 4:6 says, “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” Many of us have more than we need, and we may actually be able to enjoy what God has given us more if we liberate ourselves from the excess.  

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