Simple Living Works!

Life Standard #3: Nurture People, Not Things

Posted on: May 29, 2013


The Five Life Standards, the essence of voluntary simplicity, are detailed in Doris Janzen Longacre’s book, Living More with Less (now available in a 30th Anniversary edition):

  • Do Justice
  • Learn from the World Community
  • Nurture People, Not Things
  • Cherish the Natural Order
  • Nonconform Freely

Free support materials for Living More with Less:  blogs, video, audio, text, podcasts, etc. I’m highlighting the Five Life Standards from material in the Simple Living archives.

Life Standard #3: Nurture People, Not Things

We put ourselves at risk by going into a mall. We find the thing that is going to give excitement and fulfillment to our life. We whip out our credit card and take our treasure home. It’s great… for a while. Then something else comes along that we can’t live without. So what happens to our first little lifesaver? We either chuck it or store it. If we keep it, we have to dust it or put batteries in it. We have to maintain it. And we surely wouldn’t want anyone to steal it. So we secure it. We protect it. We lock it up. So we go into debt to buy it, then we use our time and energy to maintain and secure it. It raises the question, “Who owns whom?” Yes, it gives a new meaning to the concept of ownership.

I’ll tell you what works for me. I play a game with myself that you can play with your children or grandchildren. It’s OK to admire things in stores and say, “I Like that.” It’s not OK to say, “I want that,” or even worse, “I need that.” Think of the mall as a museum. Everything there is on display for your pleasure, but somebody else owns it. Say to yourself as you stroll through the galleries, “Thank you store person for putting this here for me to see. I’m so glad you’re responsible for all this stuff and I’M NOT.”

Nurture People, not things. Let’s use our time, money and energy to nurture relationships… with our self, with others and with God.

Intimacy. . . getting to know someone well, opening oneself up. Most of us have experienced that when we choose to be intimate with our spouse, that things get in the way. To be intimate we may choose to take something off… to take everything off. Stuff can get in the way of intimacy in other situations as well. We can learn to avoid stuff and put relationships first.

Simple Living and the Five Life Standards on The Common Good Podcast

In episode 27 of The Common Good Podcast, Lee Van Ham and I find common ground in the micro-economics of voluntary simple living and the macro of Jubilee Economics. It goes way beyond “class warfare” in America to global fairness… seeing the interconnection of our small choices and purchases to the larger systems of governments and corporations. Everything’s connected.

In episode 28, I go beyond the concepts to the practical. Subscribe for free at The Common Good PodcastAuthorHere are my blogs at

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