You have probably heard the phrase before, “less is more”.
This 19th century proverbial phrase was first found in print in Andrea del Sarto, 1855, in a poem by Robert Browning. The phrase is also associated with the architect and furniture designer Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969), one of the founders of modern architecture and a proponent of simplicity of style. In architecture, less is more is the notion that simplicity and clarity lead to good design.
Right out of college, I worked for a marketing firm for a couple of years. I was hired to manage current clients and pursue new ones. Basically, our company raised money for non-profit corporations by reactivating their non-active donor lists. We would contact the people who had previously donated to our clients organization, but hadn’t given anything additional in over a year. We would design a new campaign by highlighting a current project or initiative, contact the donor on the phone, and then follow it up by sending a personalized letter. Our company received a percentage of the new income and the organization benefited by increased contributions and reactivated supporters.
I learned a lot from the company’s main writer, Mike White. Mike used words like a craftsman uses a tool. He developed an exceptional ability to make his point by getting to the point. His letters were clear and concise. As I began writing for the company, Mike gave me some valuable instruction in drafting an effective letter. He said, “write everything you want to say, then go back through it and eliminate as many words as you can”. Basically, less is more.
Joseph McCormack, author of BRIEF: Making a Bigger Impact by Saying Less says, getting to the point right away is crucial to attract the attention of customers, clients, and investors. "Brevity is an essential skill that can propel people’s career in an age where the people that they’re talking to are overwhelmed," he says.
His research found that the average professional receives 304 emails per week, checks their smartphone 36 times an hour and gets interrupted every eight minutes (or 50 to 60 times per day), given that, it’s not hard to imagine why our attention spans are shrinking (from 12 seconds in 2000 to less than eight seconds today).
Applying this, “less is more” approach to ones faith life might look like this:
John the Baptist said in John 3:27-30, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” In essence, John is saying, less of me and more of Him.
Preparing the way of the Lord involves getting out of the way, so that Jesus can be seen as the only way, the truth and the life. Living a ‘less of me and more of Him’ life is living a life that points to Messiah rather than living a life that points to our beliefs about Messiah or even our accomplishments done for Messiah.
Less of me and more of Him, is a heart position of humility that is completely committed to bringing honor and glory to the only One who is worthy. It is not denying, diminishing or devaluing the gifts and talents we have received from God, it is simply using them to keep the sole focus and fixation on Jesus.
I love what John the Baptizer said to his own disciples when Jesus showed up in John 1:36, “And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Catch what happens next, in verse 37. “The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” Let me emphasize that again. When they heard John speak, they followed Jesus. That is what happens when you are living a less of me and more of Him life.
In an addictive age where we obsessively track our own followers on social media platforms, let us not forget that Heaven seems to track those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. May our lives of simplicity and clarity point to the Lamb, so that when people see our lives and hear us speak, they will follow Him too.
There is so much to say, but as I’ve just emphasized, less is more.