I have capacity? but really though — Phil Rice

A thing I wanted and almost purchased

I saw a backpack that I wanted. It was super cool AND having it would enable me to carry more stuff [true story]. The backpack I currently have is great [very great in fact], but it has a very narrow profile, so I have to pick and choose what I actually decide to carry in it. But as I thought about it… how often do I actually need to carry more stuff? And of that stuff… should I even be carrying any of it? So I decided to simply be more selective with what I carry.

I kept my narrow backpack.

This is an important assessment for life in general. Is my backpack the right size? Is it filled with the right things? As we continue in the journey of Practical Spirituality, the answers to this assessment play a key role. Is my load sustainable? Am I carrying the things that will get me where I desire to go? Or maybe. Am I carrying a lot of things that I was never intended to carry?

If you had to do it over again…?

A friend sent me an interview with Billy Graham recently and I was impacted by Billy’s response to the question, If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently?

I would study more. I would pray more. I would travel less and take less speaking engagements. I took too many of them in too many places around the world. If I had to do it over again, I would spend more time in meditation and in prayer, just telling the Lord how much I love him and adore him. — Billy Graham

If the response of one of the most prominent Jesus followers of the 20th century was that he wished he had spent more time adoring Jesus and less time in productive activity, then I for one feel the need to call my capacity and activity into question.

Am I spending the limited time and energy I have on things that are of value? Do I have capacity and margin to grow and invest where I feel is important? Or not? This doesn’t mean that we don’t do things that we enjoy [on the contrary!]. I find that thinking through this filter of less actually gives me more time and energy for the people and practices that I do love.

Smaller plates, smaller meals

In his book, Profit First, Mike Michalowicz makes the correlation between the amount of food consumed and the size of the plate. The larger the plate, the more food we tend to consume. Smaller plates, smaller portions.

Becky and I have loved this analogy. Should our monthly grocery budget [or whatever budget] be bigger? Or should we be thinking of creative ways to keep our monthly spending below the line we already have in place? Sometimes there are reasons to raise the line [find more income, shift things around, etc], maybe those reasons don’t come along as often as we think. Should I buy a new car since mine has been having some issues? Or should we work the problem out within our constraints? I could just sell my car and… ride my bike [or scooter], take an uber when I need to go longer distances, or work from home on a particular day that Becky and I both need to work [or when one of us needs to take the kiddos somewhere].

In The Houdini Solution, Ernie Schenck writes that the genius of Houdini was that he was forced to solve problems from within the box [literally]. He explains that creativity and innovation work when we have to work within constraints. I’m down with that. I’m not proposing that we should make things harder for ourselves for no reason [or take up magic as a hobby]. Rather, maybe the solution isn’t always about adding something. Perhaps there’s a different way?

Less is sometimes more

My favorite Tim Ferriss quote from his 17 Questions That Changed My Life

What if I could only subtract to solve problems? — Tim Ferriss

What a perfect question. It’s so easy to get caught up in throwing more on the board to solve a problem. It works for a while… but once something’s on the board… it’s on the board — more to fund, more to manage, more to maintain. But if our solutions are actually removing things from the board [our backpack, our plate, our life] and making room for more spontaneous moments, I think that’s pretty neat.

So what Phil Rice?

Remind me again why this is relevant to Practical Spirituality? It’s relevant because when we are talking about our spiritual well being, we’re really talking about the state of our body, mind, and spirit [I talk about that a little bit here]. If we continually add to our life and without subtracting from it, then at some point, the less material things in life are pushed to the side. If our schedules fill with endless activity, if our minds always churn with the current Netflix season binge, and if we never say no to external expectations, then we will literally not have capacity for a deeper existence. So… how’s that backpack feeling?


Any thoughts?

Any of this resonate? I’d love to hear your thoughts and continue the conversation.

Phil Rice


Oh yeah, and if you resonate with this article, consider joining the conversation more regularly! I send out a super helpful [I think it’s helpful] short email with [5] highlights of content over the last month [or so], my 5-things email — meaningful content for the religiously disillusioned [or spiritually tired] seeking to practically and authentically follow Jesus in real life.


Phil writes like he speaks – with a God-centered, challenging, winsome humility. He gives permission to reflect on the edge about what it means to be the Church. — Lance H.


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