Simplicity . . . Stewardship . . . Justice
This month we’ve touched on the discipline of simplicity — which is quite a multifaceted discipline, involving our time, our energy, our heart-focus, as well as our money. Simplicity is intricately tied to September’s discipline of Stewardship. I’ve invited my friend Amanda Siebold to chat with us about both of these practices in a 2-part interview.
Amanda is a leader in a ministry organization called 24-7 Prayer, focusing on international justice issues (Just 24-7) and also helping to provide leadership and oversight in their ministry in the USA, particularly in regard to justice. She also works in a domestic violence shelter, caring for women in crisis situations and has done this as her “day job” for 8 years. Amanda has traveled internationally quite a bit and has some great insights regarding prayer, simplicity in daily practice, stewardship, and justice. Here is “Part 1” of our two-part discussion…
Amanda, thanks for swinging by to talk with my readers. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I guess you could classify me as a “young professional,” although I have not arrived in this place by conventional means! My education and qualifications have come in the faces and stories of thousands of survivors of trauma, whom I have been honored to know. By day, I help survivors of domestic violence, and other forms of trauma regain their lives through my work at a local domestic violence shelter. I also help lead a small family of believers from all over the world in learning how to effectively engage in issues of injustice from the homeless man who asks for spare change who you pass on your way to work everyday to abolishing the modern-day slave trade. In my “spare time” I love to cook big meals for friends (and strangers), walk by the ocean, read good books, and indulge in long conversations with good friends. I live in Boston, and I love learning from all of the history to be discovered here and have come to love the unique culture of the locals, who apparently don’t recognize the letter “r” in the English language!
What are your biggest spiritual passions? Why?
I am passionate about the body of Christ actively living as family, being engaged in each other’s lives. Crying together, praying together, succeeding together, failing together — I think it is what the Kingdom of Heaven is made of and built on. I am also passionate about the body of Christ recognizing the invitation that lies in front of us to be Christ to the hurting world around us through prayer and the marriage of prayer with activism and social justice. Perhaps my deepest calling, however, lies in the realm of gender inequality. I have come to cherish the story in Genesis when God created male and female “in His image” and it was good. The enemy has had a heyday twisting and distorting God’s image through broken men and women throughout history. I long to see humanity restored and all of us living out of a place of true masculinity and femininity to the glory of God.
This month we’ve been focusing on “simplicity” on my blog. What role do you think prayer plays in helping us have a simple focus in our daily lives as we seek God’s will for us?
Prayer, is the means by which God is able to speak to us about the things that matter to his heart. The more we are in tune with what he is speaking, the more fulfilled and satisfied we are in the richness that comes from communing with him. Those material things that vie for our affection, even our worship, lose their luster. It reminds me of the classic worship song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” — ” . . . and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace”. True communion with Christ also allows us to know when to accept his wonderful gifts as they sometimes come in the form of material things. I don’t believe we are called to poverty, but rather fulfillment in those things that actually satisfy. This frees us to enjoy all of his good gifts and to know the joy of giving them away!
Simplicity as a spiritual discipline enables us to combat the dangers of materialism and consumerism in our culture. How do you see materialism and consumerism negatively affecting the church? How have your global travels given you a sense of perspective on simplicity and its importance in the Christian life?
I was reminded again this week that convenience does not produce character. As you mentioned, I have had the privilege of traveling to many nations over the last twelve years. One thing that consistently strikes me is the depth of joy, generosity, and peace that those who are very poor can possess. “Things” tend to complicate life. The more stuff we have, the more stuff we have to manage and the more the stuff goes wrong, breaks, gets stolen, or dies. This creates stress, selfishness, and myopic absorption in dealing with a life full of stuff. When we learn to embrace simplicity, it frees us to be full of those things that really satisfy — people, the Spirit of God, and the practice of giving away.
Stay tuned . . . more powerful insights coming in a few days as Amanda and I next discuss the way Simplicity and Stewardship merge in our calling to care for our fellow man.