Keep It Simple

My family has always lived a busy life.  Between friends, sports, school, church, hobbies, and other activities, I have always been a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” kind of individual.  Truthfully, I like to think that I come by it honestly. My dad is the closest thing to a superhero I have ever come across. He is driven, passionate, kind, brilliant, hard working, and a man of integrity.  Everything he does, he does at an incredibly high level; he works hard and doesn't cut corners. These are all great qualities, but what makes it even more incredible is that he does it across 5 or 6 areas of his life simultaneously, all with the same level of excellence. Seriously, the man has a gift.

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In my pursuit of matching this, I just started doing to much.  I had jumped head first into university, church, coaching football, work, and even began dating my future wife. To be honest it started off ok, but forgetting to do one school assignment set off chain reactions of playing catch up. Soon I was delaying putting off one task to complete another and this spiral took me to the point where I was constantly apologizing for forgetting to do something, or hand something in, or call someone back. I lacked focus and it was costing me. I remember sitting in my room one night, overwhelmed by all the things I was failing at, and thinking to myself, “how am I going to claw my way back into this!?”  I don’t know about you but I hear these phrases and maxims all the time, but it isn’t until moments like these where I become acutely aware of the need to actually consider them. I didn’t want to simply be doing things, I wanted be doing them well. None of these things I was trying to do were “bad” things. I had good intentions to help, to serve, to achieve, but in spite of my good intentions, I just did all those things poorly. In a lot of ways I had to fall flat on my face to realize the wisdom behind a principle I heard at a young age - K.I.S.S.

I remember the first time I heard of the principle.  We were in Grade 4 and Ms. Brado was coaching us through the process of designing our first science experiment of the year,  “Remember the K.I.S.S principle: Keep It Simple, Silly!” From the other side of the classroom Bryce yelled, “You mean Keep It Simple, STUPID!” (typical Bryce).

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The phrase, “Keep It Simple Stupid”, is said to be coined by Kelly Johnson, the lead engineer on the US Military SR-71 and Lockheed U-2 spy planes back in the 1960s. Interestingly enough the “Stupid” was not implying that the person was stupid as Bryce was implying in Grade 4. The statement was actually way more significant.  There is a story of Johnson approaching his design team during their development of one of the spy planes and dropping down a handful tools on the table.  He issued the challenge to his team: build a jet that could be repaired by an average mechanic, in the field, during combat conditions, using only the tools on the table in front of them. See, Johnson recognized something quite profound.  The success of the project plane his team was endeavouring to build wasn’t going to be determined by the the bells and whistles they could pack into one device, but by their ability to build the essential elements of the a plane. It had to be able to respond that when things went wrong, and could be repaired and return to battle as quickly as possible.  “Stupid” was never about the person the phrase was directed at, but rather the fact, that even in the best circumstances, things break. The simpler things are to repair, the more effective they would be at accomplishing their task.

‘Stupid’ was never about the person the phrase was directed at, but rather the fact, that even in the best circumstances, things break.

Simple.

Focused.

Excellence.

Those are things which I so desired and was falling short. But that was a period in which I really learned a lot about myself and who I wanted to be. This is still a process but I wanted to be someone who carried that mantra of K.I.S.S. and pursued an approach of focused excellence. So when we began to have discussions about a new church community in Langley, let’s just say I knew one thing that I desperately wanted for it.

K.I.S.S. wasn’t just a truth for myself individually but it spoke to our heart as a community.

When we first started talking about what City Collective could be, the first thing we did was start dreaming of all the good we could do, all the lives we could impact. Great! Right?  But, when you’re dreaming, the list gets pretty long. This sounds really nice, but the hard reality of it is, we can’t be all things to all people. Early on we realized that we were going to have to say no to a lot of really good things, so we could say 'yes' to the two or three things that are going to allow us to be the most effective.  We are all guilty of building these beautiful complicated lives with good intentions: we want to help, we love how it feels, we want to stay busy, etc. but just like Kelly Johnson pointed out: things break, stuff goes wrong, and best laid plans go to waste. We came to the conclusion that we can “accomplish more by doing less." Good intentions weren't good enough. K.I.S.S. wasn’t just a truth for myself individually but it spoke to our heart as a community. We needed to focus on Jesus, on living in community and serving our city effectively. To be a church who refuses to get lost in the chaos of trying to do too much and fights to stay focused in the mission of: “Together, creating space for everyone to discover life in Jesus." I believe so clearly that whenever someone encounters Jesus and discovers who He is that it changes everything. As easy as it is to get caught up in all the possibilities of a new venture I don’t want us to ever lose our focus on the mission we are on. So we choose to give it everything we’ve got, to trust God, and in the midst of it all to keep it simple.

I think that’s a pretty great place to start.