Book Review: Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, by Bill Hybels

SimplifyUnless “simplify” means “do more,” Bill Hybels’ latest book, Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, is misnamed. A pertinent title may be Organize Your Life. This is a book for those in middle- to upper-class America who have the freedom, time, energy, and resources to take advantage of all reorganization and life-additions encouraged by Hybels. Much of what Hybels has to offer is anecdotal and does not necessarily follow any principles taken from Scripture (some do, some don’t). The main purpose I have concluded is to be taken from the book is to encourage the reader to be organized, follow your dreams, and be happy…with God. God is mentioned a lot, but relying on Him is more of an afterthought in this holistic approach to life, focusing more on happiness for the self and disregarding contentment in God. This is not to say that it’s all selfish—there are plenty of sections that pull straight from Scripture in their proper context—but it’s really more about being happy and busy with what one enjoys (being uncluttered?) rather than simplifying one’s (spiritual) life.

To help express my opinion, I provide my simplified summary of what Hybels provides for his reader as a way to simplify their lives.

Chapter One: Fill your depleted spiritual bucket.

  • Ask God to do it and he will.
  • Do things you know will fill your bucket.
  • Recommended:
    • Spend fifteen minutes a day with God in a quiet place by reading Scripture, praying, and listening.
    • Spend time with Family.
    • Engage in satisfying work.
    • Participate in recreation.

Chapter Two: Prioritize and organize your calendar—you should have one!

  • Find a schedule that works for you.
  • Make time for God—mark it in the calendar.
  • Make time for family—mark it in the calendar.
  • Make time for exercise and recreation—mark it in the calendar.
  • Set goals—mark them in the calendar.
  • If you want to do something else, mark it in the calendar.
  • Stick to the calendar.
  • Change your life/job to be something that is happy and meaningful to you. (No need to find contentment in your current circumstances.)

Chapter Three: Be a good steward of your finances.

  • Financial reconciliation is comparable to spiritual reconciliation with Jesus.
  • Five required beliefs for financial reconciliation:
    • “All I have comes from God.”
    • “I live joyfully within God’s current provision for my life.”
      • Get out of debt.
      • Being debt free and living below your income enables you to give more.
    • “Honor God by giving the first tenth of all my earnings to his purposes in the world.”
      • If you believe you can only get from A to B with 100% of your income, God can do it with 90%.
      • Don’t rob God.
      • Tip: Set up electronic giving to your church.
    • “I set asidea portion of all my earnings into a savings account for emergencies, giving opportunities, and my later years.
      • Tip: 10-10-80 Principle:
        • 10% to God (church)
        • 10% to emergencies, extra giving, and retirement.
        • Live on 80%
      • “I live each day with an open ear toward heaven, eager to respond to any whisper from God regarding my resources.”
      • If you’re confused or frightened about these five principles, remember they’re God’s way.

Chapter Four: Examine and refine your working world.

  • Be satisfied in your labors.
  • Find fulfillment in you work.
  • Have energy, peace, and self-confidence in your work.
  • If your job does not offer the above, find a new one. (Again, No need to find contentment in your current circumstances.)
  • Align your work with your passions and culture and the right set of challenges and compensation (wages & passion).
  • Stay open to God moving you to do other work.

Chapter Five: Forgive

  • Work on your heart.
  • Perspective: Feeling wronged doesn’t mean you were
  • When legitimately wronged, follow Matthew 18.
  • Forgiveness can lead others to Jesus.

Chapter Six: Be at peace.

  • Don’t sin.
  • Maintain healthy fear and judgment.
  • Face your fears.
  • Speak truth.
  • If you do your part, God will do His part.

Chapter Seven: Deepen healthy relationships.

  • Spend time with true friends and wise people.
  • Stay away from troublesome and divisive people.
  • Tips: Meet people by serving faith-based charities, attending church functions and joining Bible studies.
  • Be a good friend.

Chapter Eight: Follow God’s calling.

  • Find a life verse, “a short passage of Scripture that serves as a rallying cry to guide and focus the current season in your life, or your life as a whole.”
  • Live your life verse.

Chapter Nine: Go with the seasons.

  • Remember Ecclesiastes 3.
  • “Identify your current season.”
  • “Be fully in your season.”
  • Go with the changing of the season.

Chapter Ten: Be satisfied.

  • Things that won’t satisfy:
    • Physical health
    • Education
    • Pleasure
    • Work
    • Wealth
    • Sex
    • Fame
  • Don’t be like U2, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
  • Fill your life with things that bring:
    • True satisfaction: fill God-given desires.
    • Purpose: fulfill God’s purpose
    • Significance

 

Not recommended.

[Edit: April 23, 2016]
In lieu of Simplify, I highly recommend Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul by Ruth Soukup.

 

*This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers for review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I offered or provided any compensation.

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