Skip to Content

Does simple living really matter?

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a commission. Thank you for supporting this site.

Ever wonder if simple living really makes a difference? It's not enough to just live simply, we have to actively use the "extra" to make a difference in other's lives. {Note: This is a very different post than I normally share but it’s something I believe needs to be shared as part of our journey towards simple living. Oh yeah, and it’s kind of long, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s chat.}

For the last several months I’ve been struggling more than normal with living in a society of excess. Now, don’t get me wrong, there isn’t any other country I’d rather live in and even with all our “problems” it’s still a pretty great place that’s full of opportunity for all. 

We chose to live a fairly simple lifestyle and try to be a family that produces instead of just consumes. But the gnawing question I’ve had lately is does it really make a difference? 

During an online conversation with some other homesteaders about using resources wisely one of them mentioned a quote from Mother Teresa, “Live simply so others may simply live.” Apparently, that’s a quote that has been mis-attributed to her but it came to me at a time when we were trying to figure a few things out as a family. And now that I know Mother Teresa didn’t say it (although she lived it) I have an easier time disagreeing with the statement. 

Me choosing to live simply does not automatically help others simply live. 

When we use less water in our home that doesn’t mean there is automatically more clean water in places like India which desperately need clean water. 

When we choose to grow more food and buy less at the store that doesn’t mean there is automatically more food at an unemployed neighbor’s home. 

When we choose to buy most of our clothes second hand that doesn’t automatically mean that there are clothes available to people in Africa who only have one or two sets of clothes. 

When we choose to limit the number of shoes we own it doesn’t automatically mean that there are more shoes for those suffering from jiggers. 

Our choice to have less does not automatically give someone else more. 

In fact, our choice to live simply doesn’t really affect anyone outside our home….unless we make it affect them. It’s not enough to live simply, we have to also actively make a difference in other people’s lives. 

But here’s the deal, not all help is really helpful. Sometimes what we (especially as Americans) think is helping is really just enabling or causing more poverty. Several years ago we read When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert  and it challenged us to really think about our giving in a more careful way. You can listen to a great interview with the authors here

To complicate matters more for us, earlier this year Carl spent 10 days in Manila, Philippines with Metro World Child. They ministered to children and families in HappyLand Tondo…sounds nice, right? Yeah, it’s actually the city dump and they also ministered to folks living in North cemetery. 

The need is so great, its overwhelming to me. And honestly, I usually get to this point in my thought process and just shut down from the weight of the reality. 

But here’s what I’ve come to realize…we can’t help everyone but we can make a real difference for a few. 

And that difference is possible because we choose to live a simple life. Because we choose to do things like grow our own food, buy second hand clothes and limit possessions we have “extra” money in our budget. We can choose to do many things with that extra money and today I’d like to share with you a few targeted things that we are choosing to do. 

Please know that I’m not sharing these things to say, “Look at us, look at the good things we’re doing.” I’m sharing because I think living a simple life for the purpose of living a simple life and thinking that it somehow has a positive affect on others just isn’t true. We have to actively make a difference in our world. 

The things your family chooses to support will probably be different than the things our family has chosen to support. And THAT is a good thing. Every family should wrestle with these issues and come to well-thought out decisions of how they are going to make a difference. 

This is by no means and exhaustive list. There are many organizations doing wonderful things all around the globe. Our family has decided on a few guidelines to help us decide what organizations to support. I encourage your family to do the same, it will make deciding what so support much easier for you. 

Ever wonder if simple living really makes a difference? It's not enough to just live simply, we have to actively use the "extra" to make a difference in other's lives.

Metro World Child “is a global, faith-based humanitarian organization dedicated to serving inner-city children throughout New York City and various urban centers around the world.”

We were first introduced to Metro World Child when a friend’s college age son began working with them in New York City a few years ago. We’ve watched and listened as he has shared with us the difference MWC is making in the lives of children in the poorest areas of New York City and around the world.

There are several ways that MWC ministers to these children, one way is by having sidewalk Sunday School almost every day of the week in different locations and another way is child sponsorship. While Carl was in Manila, he met a little girl that we are now be sponsoring. We are super excited to begin this new relationship and ministry. Ever wonder if simple living really makes a difference? It's not enough to just live simply, we have to actively use the "extra" to make a difference in other's lives. Sole Hope  is a shoe ministry whose core purpose is “To effectively put in place preventive methods to combat diseases that enter through the feet and to create a positive physical and spiritual difference in the lives of individuals in impoverished communities.” I met one of the founders of Sole Hope, Dru Collie, at Alume Conference last fall – he helped lead worship. I was intrigued by the work they are doing.

Uganda has a parasite in some of the soil called jiggers. They bore their way into a person’s feet, grow, lay eggs, become infected,etc. the only way of removing them is by digging them out. Part of the problem is that there isn’t much clean water in Uganda so washing the wounds is hard. In some parts of the country, a person with jiggers is shunned by the rest of the community because it is considered a curse…even if this person is a small child. Sole Hope’s answer is not just to give shoes to people but to have those shoes made by local seamstresses and shoemakers who are paid a living wage. This helps the whole community. They also spray the ground in the homes and schools to kill the jiggers and they host health clinics where they remove jiggers, clean and bandage wounds….and give out shoes. Lastly, they share the Hope of Jesus Christ with the people. Bittersweet Monthly did a great video about the work of Sole Hope.  

One super easy and fun way to get involved is to host a shoe cutting party. Our homeschool co-op did this and we cut out 30 shoes to send to send to Sole Hope. Part of what made this a great group project was that those who couldn’t come could still help by donating jeans or money to help pay the seamstress and shoemaker. We also had children helping us and it was wonderful to discuss that not everyone has shoes like we have shoes and the importance of helping others. After seeing the video, Esther (our 7 year old) decided to donate her favorite pair of jeans all on her own- they are a size 4 and about 3 inches too short but she didn’t want to part with them…until she realized she could have them made into shoes for a child. My mama heart swelled

Ever wonder if simple living really makes a difference? It's not enough to just live simply, we have to actively use the "extra" to make a difference in other's lives. Mercy House Global and Fair Trade Friday was founded by Kristen Welch of We Are THAT Family about six years ago. “Mercy House exists to engage, empower and disciple women around the globe in Jesus’ name. Engage those with resources to say yes to the plight of women in poverty. Empower women and teenage mothers around the world through partnerships and sustainable fair trade product development. Disciple women to be lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.”

I have a feeling that Kristen had no clue the global impact this little maternity house in Kenya would make when it started. I first became aware of Mercy House through Kristen’s blog and I can honestly say there are times I just don’t want to open up the email. Not all of her posts are about Mercy House (she also writes about having a stronger family – all good stuff) but the ones that are about the work at Mercy House Global are hard to read. Mainly because sometimes I want to live in my own little bubble. But I can’t. For many reasons I need to read about their work and how I can help support it – I need to be reminded of how my worst day really isn’t all that bad, I need to be reminded to pray for those who Mercy House ministers to, I also need to be reminded that there IS something I can do to positively affect someone who is suffering.

We have been getting their Fair Trade Friday boxes and use the contents to give as gifts. When we’re invited to a birthday party, it’s fun to go through our little stash and pick out something for that person. The cool thing is that each item has a tag attached to it mentioning the women who made the item. So it helps spread the word about the work that they are doing. We also buy our muslin bags for bath tea and for “thank you” gifts for our Etsy orders from them. 

Ever wonder if simple living really makes a difference? It's not enough to just live simply, we have to actively use the "extra" to make a difference in other's lives.

Giving and making a difference doesn’t have to be through an organization, though – it just needs to be intentional. We have friends who moved here several years ago from Kenya. This year their girls wanted to have a birthday party (they’re becoming Americanized 😉 ) but in lieu of gifts they asked for donations so they could help pay for the school fees for a relative in Kenya. They raised enough ($336) to send a child to school for the whole year! 

What are some ways your family uses simple living to bless others? 

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Homemade Cheesecake Bar {for a crowd}
← Previous
The May Garden
Next →