Summary: Simple Living for Teens is a series of themed devotions with meditations and advice on how to live life more simply and with no unnecessary burdens, enabling one to focus more on living their life for God. The devotions include practical things that can happen to a young person everyday, such as temptations on consumerism and striving for perfection. Anyone who wants to live a more focused and truly joyful life anchored in Christ should read this.
Anyone who reads through a significant number of my posts on this site would deduce quickly that I am Christian, and that the advocacy I have learned, and now promote through this site, is my way of living a Christian life. Well, I am proud to be Christian – or, to put it more broadly, I am proud to be a servant of my God.
Like St. Thomas Aquinas and now Pope Francis, I am a believer in inter-religious dialogue for the sake of harmony in Christ – for I also believe that all religions and faiths, like cultures the world over, are simply different cultures in interacting with our God. That being said, I believe there are eternal truths that, though they may be in a Christian book, actually transcend religious boundaries and truly unite the world.
This book is one volume that contains such kind of truths, for it brings the adage of “worship is a lifestyle” to the next and literal level. Tonight, I bring you Simple Living for Teens.
I have already featured this book, although just in passing, in my post on living simply, which is also about living smartly. Written by Jonathan Rogers and compiled by Lila Empson – but this is not indicated on the cover (a foreshadow to its contents!) – the book is by Zondervan, the Christian media company responsible for the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible and also Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. Designed in a rather whimsical, ultimately very youthful, way, to appeal to its intended readership, it could get a little dizzy at times with its thankfully-monotone semi-psychedelic background artwork, but it doesn’t impede from getting its point across: Subtitled God’s Guide to Enjoying What Matters Most, the book says it all on the cover: it is a guide for (young) people on living simply and according to God’s principles. Because God is eternal, His principles are eternal as well.
An 18th birthday gift to me by my cousin – perhaps one of my most meaningful presents ever – this humble work was what started me to reevaluate my life in general. A book about simple living ought to be a simple read as well, and it really is: it contains 40 easy-to-read themed meditations on anything and everything under the sun that can occur in a young person’s life, and how to deal with them using Christian values. This is done with Biblical and lay quotes, as well as suggested concrete actions that can be easily done. As I said before, because it is based on Scripture, it is literally my lifestyle bible.
For example, devotion number two, “Where Does Your Money Go?”, is about consumerism, warning against purchases that may at first be tantalizing and promise happiness, but actually will not – which God, through Jesus, has already been preaching on in Scripture. It begins by quoting the Bible (Isaiah 55:2), then with the write-up itself. It ends with “One Final Thought” – “Finding contentment in what you already have is the essence of simple living” – and then goes on to quote the Bible and both ancient and modern-day philosophers alike. Key points drawn from the devotion, as well as concrete next steps suggested, dominate the next page, followed by one last quote.
Because it contains 40 meditations, though it is not mentioned, the book is probably meant to be read one devotion a day, just like The Purpose Driven Life. Given that one devotion is well-stocked with wisdom – the write-up, Scripture, words of wisdom, a summary, and action steps – it is surely meant to be taken nice and slow, to give the reader time to meditate on the message and the Message.
If you think that simple living is asking you to literally give up your nice possessions and live a bare-stripped life, hold your horses: it is not. As I mentioned before, the book does not call for complete disposal of material wealth – but, rather, it teaches us to temper our materialistic and worldly spirits, and to use them wisely. Wisely in the sense that we get them to be our servants – and not the other way around – in order to live a life devoted to serving God and serving others. For example, devotion number 30 warns against perfectionism, how unreasonably high standards can cause so much physical and mental frustration, and how we run the risk of challenging God, who alone is perfect. (The devotion calls us to pursue excellence, not perfection, and even then reminds us to keep it in check that it doesn’t swerve away from its purpose of glorifying and trusting God.)
Even for someone who is not really a believer, I would still advise them to get a hold on this book. The concrete next steps (labeled as “Simplify…”) also consist of universal advice, meaning they can apply to anyone under the sun. It is only reasonable and part of human nature that we should want an easy time in things. Though the call to follow Christ is anything but that, Simple Living for Teens – which, by the way, can and does apply even to adults young and old – does make living your earthly life easier and more focused.