live simply
learning to live simply so others may simply live

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Five questions with Shaun Groves

Shaun Groves with Yanci | Photo via shaungroves.com

1. What does living simply mean to you?

Reducing the amount of thought, time and money spent on me and mine in order to increase the amount spent on others.

2. Why is it important to you? (budget, politics, faith, etc)

Because it’s important to God. In Exodus 16 God gives his kids food in the wilderness and commands them to take only what they need for the day. He called it a “test” to see if they would “obey” his instructions. In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul reminds the early church in Corinth of this ancient commandment and asks them to give from their leftovers to their starving brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. He says they’re to do this because God wants “equality.” From beginning to end, the bible reminds me that God is good enough to give me everything I have, and to give me more than I need so that I can share it with those who lack daily bread. It’s my privilege then to gratefully limit my appetite to daily bread so that I can participate more fully in God’s plan to bring about a greater measure of equality on earth.

3. What steps have you taken to live simply in your day to day life?

We moved from a 4600 square foot house to 1500 square feet. I cut my own hair, own two pairs of jeans, a handful of shirts. We collect rain water for the garden – a garden that lowers our grocery bill. We don’t have cable. We turn the thermostat up a couple more degrees in the Summer and down a couple in the Winter over what we’re accustomed to. We have one car, share a lawn mower and other lawn tools and food and whatnot with friends. We reduce, recycle and reuse when possible. I’m not sure of what all we do because, honestly, it’s been such a gradual process for us spanning several years.

4. What’s been the hardest part of your simple journey?

Balancing simplicity with justice. The highest aim of simplicity isn’t frugality, it’s loving my God and my neighbor. Sometimes cheap undermines that aim. For instance, in the beginning of simplifying my wardrobe I bought the cheapest jeans I could find at Target. Later I found out they were made by workers in the third world who don’t receive a wage they can live on. Eventually, I visited that third world country where I walked beside and smelled the water polluted by that manufacturer and many other U.S. companies selling cheap goods to the U.S. This raises difficult questions about poverty, justice and simplicity. By buying cheap jeans I am employing third world workers who may not have work otherwise. And I’m saving enough money to put more money into meeting the basic needs of people in the third world. But by buying those cheap jeans I’m employing people at an inhumane wage and I’m polluting their drinking water. And that’s just the quandary of jeans! What about cheap produce harvested by Haitian slaves in the Dominican Republic? What about kids born without ears because I want cheap batteries made from nickel mined in the third-world in an unsafe manner outlawed in the U.S?

This is the greatest struggle I have in pursuing a more simplistic and generous life. It’s difficult to avoid taking lives in the process of giving life.

5. What advice would you give others who are on the living simple journey?

Don’t do it alone. As with any positive life change, a move toward simplicity can stir up self-righteousness and pride in us and criticism around us. Satan is skilled in turning positive change against us. Surrounding ourselves with loving friends and family who support our move toward simplicity – even those that won’t make that move with us – has kept us humble with their caring questions and corrections and their encouragement has guarded us against doubt-inducing criticism.

Shaun Groves is a communicator who’s known by a lot of titles: Singer/songwriter. Speaker. Blogger. Husband. Daddy. Friend. He feels and thinks deeply and laughs easily. And he’s helping Christians discover what they were saved for, and being a voice for children around the world, desperate to be saved from poverty. Shaun lives with his wife and three kids in Nashville, TN. He blogs at shaungroves.com and you can find him on Twitter: @shaungroves

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Posted:
April 23rd, 2010

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