We live in an increasingly fast-paced and noisy world. It's getting more difficult to unplug from digital spaces, and the idea that we all need to juggle multiple side hustles has become commonplace. So, as life grows more chaotic, divided, and secular, how can we make choices to make us more present to Jesus?
Here are some choices you can make in the coming year to help you slow down, get grounded, and tune into the Spirit.
1. Set boundaries around your social media consumption
Tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok aren't positive or negative in themselves, but if we're not careful, they can create a lot of problems. First of all, the average daily time spent on social media with worldwide users is about 145 minutes—over 2.5 hours. That works out to a full waking day a week (17.5 hours).
But not only can it be a huge time waster (time being our most precious resource), it can also lead us into entrenchment and division if we're not careful. But more than anything, social media can become a compulsive draw on our attention. Any time we have a spare moment, we are driven to pick up our phone where various social platforms promise us all new posts, commentary, and content. Time we would have spent being present, tuning into other people, or just thinking is lost.
Simplification doesn't require ridding yourself of social media. But if you don't decide how you consume it, you'll find that it encroaches more and more into your daily life. So make a plan about how much time you want to spend on it, and then resist the urge to mindlessly scroll just because you're bored.
2. Commit to regular Scripture reading
Consuming Scripture is incredibly critical for followers of Jesus, and there are many ways to do it. You can study it, diving deep with alternative resources and commentaries. You can make it part of your daily devotional time with other inspirational literature. But one of the most important things you can do is commit to simply reading a chapter or two of Scripture at a time.
Devotional reading and study tend to focus on smaller sections of Scripture and often rely on others unpacking and interpreting Scripture for us. That's wonderful and important, but reading larger Scripture passages is integral to our spiritual growth. Not only does it allow us to experience God's Word in more context, but it gives more room for the Holy Spirit to breathe life into the passages we're reading.
Make a reading plan for the coming year. Can you commit to a chapter or two a day? How about 20 minutes in the morning or the evening? In just 12 minutes a day, the average adult can read the entire Bible in one year.
3. Make intentional plans to serve
Most of us think of ourselves as ready to lend a helping hand when necessary, but a lot of the most pressing needs in our communities go unmet. Part of the problem is that we're waiting for problems to come to us, and when we do, we don't recognize them, or we find them inconvenient.
Part of simplifying our life is learning to recognize the essential things and elevating them in priority. If we want to serve the Lord (see the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats), we'll get strategic about making it happen. This means making intentional service decisions instead of hoping that those needs come to us.
Decide how much time you can dedicate to serving. A couple of weeknights a month? Every third Saturday? Once you decide how much you want to commit to service, it's time to figure out where to serve. Does your church have areas that could use your help? Are there other ministries or churches in your community that are doing amazing work? Find places where you can plug yourself in.
Stripping away the unnecessary
When you get down to it, simplifying your life is about ridding yourself of all the excess stuff that clutters up your heart, mind, schedule, and space. It's about making choices that remove the obstacles that keep you from focusing on your priorities and passions. A helpful alternative to making New Year's resolutions is to simply weed some unnecessary things out of your life and replace them with things that make life worth living.
If one of your goals for the new year is to be more intentional about your relationship with Jesus, check out the article "How Can I Get Closer to God."