Each of us have a lot of stuff. Loads of stuff. Lots of loads of stuff, really.
And I’m not just talking physical stuff, like the stuff you have to rent a U-Haul for. No, I’m going much further than that.
In the Gospels, Jesus sent out His twelve disciples with His blessing but not much else:
“He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts—but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.” -Mark 6:8-9
These passages have hit me more and more lately. I don’t see Christians following this example. We generally go with the “Better come prepared” approach than the “The Lord will provide” approach.
Looking at my life alone, I don’t feel like I’m on a journey. I feel like, with all the stuff I’ve accumulated, I’m not moving. Sorry, God, I’m not available.
So one by one, piece by piece, tough decision by tough decision, I’m trying to purge stuff from my life. Let me share some ideas with you, some of the types of baggage I’ve noticed…
Stuff you just have around for sentimental value. This is the first stuff to ditch. For me, this wasn’t too difficult to trash, but I’m young. I don’t have a lifetime trinkets saved up. For you, this might one of the biggest challenges.
- Stuffed animals
Stuff you use to do other things. It’s hard to say this stuff is unnecessary, but I know I’ve consolidated quite a bit after giving what I own a rundown. And I still have a long way to go.
- Hammers, drills, saws
- Washing machine
Stuff you use to cover yourself (or not) and create your own style. When it comes down to it, most of the stuff we wear is based on appearances rather than strictly for function. That’s not necessarily bad. But it might be.
- Jackets… I own(ed) a lot of jackets
- High heels… in case you’re wondering, I didn’t own any
Stuff you decorate your home with. Do you have to have this stuff? If yes, then you probably shouldn’t.
- Grandfather clock your grandfather gave you
Stuff you enjoy experiencing for fun. Is your “fun” keeping you from amazingness? Sometimes, it is. Is your fun even fun? Sometimes, it really isn’t.
- Latest movies and TV shows
- Eating out
Stuff you do to make (more) money. Have you ever thought that maybe God doesn’t want to you to do this? At all? Or at least the way you are? Are you really a missionary?
- Punching a clock
Stuff you eat and drink. Being picky is a problem. Or can be. (Thankfully, I’ve always had a healthy appetite, even if it’s not always healthy.)
- Organic peanut butter
Stuff, people really, who you hang out with and care about. Paul said spouses could become baggage, so certainly every other kind of relationship could also turn out that way.
- Next-door neighbor
Stuff you don’t want to leave. Sometimes baggage is just a proximity issue. We get used to living in one area, staying in one area, and then it becomes a comfort zone we’re afraid to leave.
- Your apartment or house
- Your neighborhood or city
- Your country
10. Clubs, groups, and organizations
Stuff where you’re involved with people and have specific responsibilities on an ongoing basis.
- Teacher’s Association
- Volunteer projects
11. Online connections and obligations
Stuff you do online. This is definitely a new category, but I’ve noticed the baggage growing here, both for myself and others.
Stuff you’re responsible for in your local congregation. Yes, as the son of a pastor, I can say for sure that ministering through a church can count as baggage and keep you away from what God wants.
- Teaching Sunday School
- Volunteering to visit people
- Midweek, Bible studies
Stuff you do to stay fit and looking good, or stuff that physically keeps you from doing other things. This is two sided: over-emphasizing exercise is selfish, but it’s hard to help others if you ignore your health altogether.
- Jogging three miles every day
Stuff you do for fun. It’s great to create ties but not of those ties prevent you from following God’s direction.
Stuff you need to learn, or stuff you think you need to learn. This is another one that strikes from both sides. It’s baggage if you don’t have it but need it, and it’s also baggage if you’re trying to get it but don’t really need it.
- Going to college
- Reading non-fiction books
- Learning a new language
16. Rules and requirements
Stuff you think you and/or other people have to do. People on the outside often call this legalism. But people on the inside just think they’re doing what God commands. Careful!
- Wear nice clothes to church
- Become a missionary to Africa to be a better Christian
- Settle down and build a family
Stuff you do to make people think you’re cool. For me, this is the primary motivator behind fear.
- Knowing the latest about celebrities
- Rarely admitting mistakes
- Casually bringing up religion
Stuff you do consistently. Almost everything you do falls in this category. What about what you do is holding you back?
- Staying out late
- Spending too much time online
- Hanging out with people you like
Stuff you judge other people, situations, and things to be… your evaluations of them. Attitudes are particularly dangerous because they affect so many areas of you life. (For more, ask yourself these 40 questions to help assess your attitude.)
- Assuming Mondays are always dreary
- Only respecting people who’re respectable
- Hating to make decisions or take responsibility
Stuff you keep trying to relive. In recent years, online at least, there’s been a push to pursue experiences to create memories instead of storing up loads of physical stuff. While memories might be better, it can still count as baggage.
- Your senior year in high school
- The first year you were married
- Your three month vacation around the world
Stuff you’ve never forgiven. Of all the emotional baggage, this is the stuff that usually seems to weigh the heaviest.
- Your parents for splitting up when you were young
- Your friends for never inviting you out with them
- Your government leaders for… getting appointed
22. Goals and dreams
Stuff you want to achieve, whether that means getting something or doing something. We all know of things we’d like to do or have, but sometimes – often times in my case – those things don’t align with what God wants.
- Becoming CEO of the company
- Starring in a major motion picture
- Running a marathon
Actually, now that you’ve read that list, I want you to feel like I’ve pretty much covered everything in your life. Now you can break it down bit by bit…
(1) Pick one type, and then create your own list of baggage in that area. From there, you have two good options…
(2) First, start with the easiest and knock it out of your life. That’ll help you build some momentum to tackle the more difficult baggage you’ve built up.
(3) Second, start with the biggest baggage, the thing that’s causing the most hangup in you life. This is scarier but, if you can pull it off, leads to the fastest improvement.