There are certain seasons of life, like post-college, where the question of “what should I do with my life?” becomes a constant one in your mind. And for good reason: no Christian should want to waste their life or make bad use of the time God has given them. But here is the reality: you don’t need some complicated plan to glorify God with your life. The simple answer to “what does God want me to do with my life?” is day-by-day faithfulness. You can become frozen trying to decide what you want to do until you accept the simple answer Scripture gives: “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
During COVID, I read a number of business and professional development books for my work. Some were useless, some where somewhat helpful, and others were excellent. The quote I want to analyze today is from “Tools of Titans” by Timothy Ferriss. I don’t recommend Christians run out and buy this book. But it had a few helpful takeaways, one of which I want to present to you today on the subject of looking for the simple answer.
“Tools of Titans” is essentially a book of interviews. The author interviewed people from every type of industry to get their thoughts on life and work. In one chapter, a quote stuck out to me that I still continue to think about after I finished the book:
Be sure to look for simple solutions. If the answer isn’t simple, it’s probably not the right answer. – Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss
What the quote means
Complicated does not mean better
I am an over-thinker. When I have a problem, I want to go through every possible cause and effect and analyze each detail of the problem and potential solutions. This quote was a helpful reminder that I should look for the simple answer to my problem rather than something convoluted and complex.
This quote is essentially a re-statement of “Occam’s razor” which, in the scientific community where I work, means you generally choose the simplest explanation for a phenomena. Now, that does not mean the world is not complex or that sometimes a more complicated solution is necessary. It simply means a simple answer is normally easier to understand and test. This is because the simpler a solution is, the less assumptions you generally have to make.
The point here is in a complicated, dynamic world, a simple answer should generally be preferred over a complicated answer. As an over-arching principle, I think this is helpful even if sometimes you need to embrace complexity in certain situations.
Don’t make things complex for their own sake. Simplicity makes things clearer.
Why it is important
Seeking the simple answer can bring clarity to your life
More than ever, you and I live in a world of decisions. When you go to the grocery store, there is not one brand of cereal; there are 10 brands to choose from. You are told from a young age to live your dreams and be true to yourself, yet half the time you aren’t even sure what you want or what you want to do with your life. In an era of maddening choice, the simple answer can bring clarity.
And Scripture is full of simple answers. The Bible is complex, yes, incredibly detailed and profound. However, a lot of “life’s big problems” are given surprisingly simple answers in Scripture. Here are a few examples:
- How can a person be saved? “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Simple belief in Jesus changes a soul’s eternal destiny.
- What does the Lord require of me? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Simply loving the Lord and loving others are the two main principles revealed in the whole Old Testament.
- How do I deal with all the fear and anxiety I struggle with? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The simple antidote to anxiety is prayer and thankfulness to the Lord.
And those are just a few off the top of my head. Scripture answers some of life’s tough problems and choices with a “simple answer.” Notice, simple does not mean easy to live out or easy to believe as true. But there is a refreshing clarity with which Scripture speaks on these issues. Just look at the book of Proverbs: in single sentences God communicates life principles to live by. They are simple, memorable, and proven throughout history.
1. When Scripture gives a simple answer, prefer it over the wisdom of the world
Scripture is often mocked by unbelievers in light of the complexity of the world. How can you believe repentance and faith in Jesus can make a difference in this world full of suffering? How can the gospel be the answer to all of humanity’s many complicated and multi-faceted problems? Why do Christians constantly give the answer “trust and wait on the Lord” to so many life circumstances?