A Bestselling Book On Tidying Up!

The top-ranked book in the self-help section of the New York Times bestsellers list is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That’s right, a book on tidying up has become a bestseller. I suppose anything with “life-changing” in the title is going to attract attention, but that doesn’t fully explain its popularity. I believe that the book’s success is more about the “tidying up” part of the title than the “life-changing” bit. Like all best-selling books, it reveals something about our culture, about our personal lives – that we are in a mess!

A study of middle-class families in Los Angeles found that just one in four families could fit a car in its garage. It also found that mothers’ stress levels rose as they described their household mess.

Too Much Stuff
We all feel we’ve got just way too much clutter in our lives – too much in our heads, too much in our homes, too much in our offices, and way too much data everywhere. And it’s hurting us – we’re stressed out over all the stuff that’s encircling and enveloping us. But how to stop it? How to drive it down and out? We have the occasional cathartic clean out, but a week later, we’re back to messy (and stressy) central. We sense that there’s peace on the other side of the mounds of papers, clothes, boxes, tins, toys, and electronics, but how do we get there…and stay there?

Enter Marie Kondo with her welcome book on the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.

Family Crusade
Once I read the book, I bought copies for my wife and family. Not all of us have read it through yet, but we’ve had a couple of tutorials in which I summarized the key points of the book and we are all now one month into a crusade to clear out our clutter and prevent it re-invading – and even my teenage sons are on board, piling up the bin bags.

Although Kondo goes over the top in an OCD kind of way when she gets down to the details, the general principles are simple and do-able.

The basic thesis of the book is: Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go.

The bit we usually ignore or short-circuit is the discarding. We start organizing without discarding, or without sufficient discarding, which makes it virtually impossible to organize anything in a way that will produce permanent clutter-free results.

But the second sentence is also quite revolutionary in that it swims against the general tide of advice on the subject which is to do a little bit of tidying every day. No, says Kondo, “tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever…[Whereas] if you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set.”

If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after.

The third part of her text that we should exegete is “in one go.” By that, she doesn’t mean “in one day.” She means determined, concentrated, and sustained focus on the job until it’s done, which in her experience is usually about six months.

Although, as I said, she goes over-the-top in certain areas (like folding socks!), the book, especially the first half, has 5-6 basic principles that even the worst hoarder can put into practice:

  • Do not start putting away until you’ve got rid of everything you want to discard.
  • Tidy by category rather than location. For example, clothes today, books, papers.
  • Start with the easiest stuff to discard and build momentum and skill to tackle the harder decisions (clothes first, then books, papers , miscellany, and lastly, mementos.)
  • Focusing solely on throwing things away can only make you unhappy. Rather, choose what you want to keep and keep only what you love and makes you happy.

Despite four Saturdays (and four bonfires) spent on this, our family is probably only halfway through our discarding phase. However, we already feel significant psychological and even spiritual benefits, motivating us to press on to minimalist bliss. As Kondo said:

A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming. When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.

It’s common sense, isn’t it? But it’s also biblical sense. I view it as my contribution to the cultural mandate (Gen. 1:28), and part of my imaging of the God who is a God of order and not of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Ingredients Of A Happy Home (4): Habitual Gratitude

“Is any merry? Let him sing; and holy joy is the very soul and root of praise and thanksgiving. God is pleased to reckon himself glorified by our joy in him, and in his wondrous works.” Matthew Henry

The world’s most prominent researcher and writer about gratitude, Robert Emmons, defines gratitude as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.” Emmons’ research found that people who are thankful in this way tend to be happier, more energetic, more optimistic, and more helpful, more sympathetic, and more forgiving. They are also less materialistic, less depressed, less anxious, and less jealous.

Read more at HappyChristian.net.

The Benefits of Family Dinner

Over at the Happy Christian blog today I give six tips on how to get the most out of family dinner. Here’s an encouraging video by Bruce Feiler on the same subject that you might want to watch as well. His research-based tips include:

- Having kids set the table or help you prepare dinner makes them work together on a task. This increases bonding and reduces the likelihood of fights at the table.

- To increase communication at the table, play “Bad and Good” where everyone, including the parents, say what bad thing happened to them and then what good thing happened that day.

- Talk about your family history. The number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being is a knowledge of their family history.

- Talk about your failures in order to prepare them for the difficult times and help them get through them.

- The biggest pitfall is allowing devices at the table. 

- Pitfall number two is parents do too much of the talking. The research shows parents do two-thirds of the talking at dinnertime. That should be closer to 50% maximum.

Ingredients Of A Happy Home (3): Family Meals

2. Dinner2. Dinner“There is more happiness in the godly dinner of herbs than in the stalled ox of profane rioters.” Charles Spurgeon*

Social science and common sense agree on one thing: the family that eats together, stays together. But how? Here are some helpful tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Read my six tips here.

Best 400+ Online Resources For Pastoral Ministry

These are the most useful online resources on pastoral ministry that I’ve found on the web over the last 5-6 years. They are organized into categories in alphabetical order and cover subjects such as:

  • Calling
  • Character
  • Dangers
  • Disappointment
  • Evangelism
  • Family
  • Funerals
  • Health
  • Money, and so on.

For more online resources on various subjects (like Top 500 Online Resources on Preaching, click here.


Best Books On Pastoral Theology

Top 10 Books on Preaching

Top 10 Books on Christian Leadership

Top 10 Books For Elders

What are the top 10 books every pastor should read…and re-read? | Practical Shepherding

Book Recommendations…for the pastor’s encouragement | Practical Shepherding

Still Not Professionals (Free eBook) – Desiring God

Pastoral Theology: Some Book Recommendations – Kevin DeYoung

6:37: A young preacher’s library

Take Up And Read


Am I Called?

Biblical Callings, Responsibilities, and Qualifications of a Pastor

Consider preschool before the pulpit | Blogging Theologically

When the Call to Teach Isn’t Audible | The Cripplegate

5 Questions To Ask Before You Join The Ministry – J.A. Medders

Has God Called You? Discerning the Call to Preach – AlbertMohler.com

Am I called to the ministry? | HeadHeartHand Blog

How Can I Tell If I’m Called to Pastoral Ministry? – Kevin DeYoung

Are You Called to Be a Pastor? – Justin Taylor

How can I decide whether or not I should be a pastor? | 9Marks

Read More

40 Articles For Pastors And Their Families

As I mentioned in 174 Lessons About Pastoral Ministry, the most common regret pastors have as they look back on their ministries is that they didn’t give enough time and attention to their wives and children. To help avoid that have a read of some of these articles that offer counsel to pastors, their wives, and their families.

Pastors And Their Wives

Nine Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew – Shattered Magazine

John Wesley’s Failed Marriage (Reprise) | the Cripplegate

True Woman | Thick Skin, Tender Heart, and What Every Pastor’s Wife Needs Most

12 Reasons Pastors’ Wives Are Lonely

What is one of my greatest marriage mistakes as a pastor? | Practical Shepherding

20Schemes » Why A Good Wife Is The Difference Between Success & Failure

6 Ways To Serve Your Pastor’s Wife On Sunday | Ryan Huguley

Battling Discouragement as a Pastor’s Wife – The Gospel Coalition Blog

How Much Should a Pastor Tell His Wife? – The Gospel Coalition Blog

What Pastors Shouldn’t Tell Their Wives | The Heidelblog

What Your Pastor Tells His Wife about You

A Word to the Pastor’s Wife | Crossway

Flourish: An Online Community for Ministry Wives – Trevin Wax

The Pastor’s Wife and Her Primary Ministry – The Gospel Coalition Blog

The Pastor’s Wife Is a Pastor’s Wife – The Gospel Coalition Blog

The Pastor’s Wife Is Simply a Wife | ChurchPlanting.com

What is one of my greatest marriage mistakes as a pastor? | Practical Shepherding

Is There an Office for Pastors’ Wives? | 9Marks

Minister’s wife | Evangelicals Now

eJournal : The Pastor’s Wife: A Position or Juxtaposition? | 9Marks

eJournal : 30 Practical Ways For Pastors to Love Their Wives & Families | 9Marks

How much should a pastor and his wife share with one another? | Practical Shepherding

Her.meneutics: Guarding Your Marriage without Dissing Women

The Pastor’s Wife and Her Primary Ministry – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Seven Things I’ve Learned from Joyous Pastors’ Wives

Pastors And Their Kids

The Pastor’s Kid: My Happy Childhood | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

How Pastors Can Care For Their Children – The Gospel Coalition Blog

How Churches Can Care for Their Pastor’s Children – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Seven Things We Learned from Pastors’ Kids

Pastoring Your Family – Kevin DeYoung

Out of Ur: The Fishbowl, My Friend

Leading the Church While Leading your Family | 9Marks

What are 3 common areas of neglect in a pastor’s life? | Practical Shepherding

7 Things a Pastor’s Kid Needs from a Father – The Gospel Coalition Blog

3 Reflections on Leading Your Family Well – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Embracing the Biblical Tension Between Family and Church Ministry – The Gospel Coalition Blog

Why Family Time is a Pastor’s Job Description | The Cripplegate

How can I make sure I am individually shepherding my children? – The Gospel Coalition Blog

The Pastor’s Kid (1) « THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT

Preachers’ Daughters (2) « THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT