Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 8, 2016

depth, not breadth

Have you ever noticed how life can easily descend into a daily routine of one thing after another? My experience has been that this one thing after another routine quickly begins to dominate.  So much so, that our quiet moments, times of reflection, meaningful moments with family and even more meaningful moments with God, are pushed out of the routine.  If you and I were to chart last week, I wonder whether every day would look eerily similar, with too many scheduled events squeezing out the unscripted moments that give us room to breathe? If, in truth, our focus is one thing after another, then you must agree with me that there is a real tendency to live a mile wide and an inch deep.

Frankly, so many of the one things are good, and we have to be intentional about trying to live deeper and fight for times of quiet, solitude and meaningful moments. With full candor, I must tell you that mastering depth versus breadth is difficult. My wife and I were talking last week about having a season that is tough to manage. I absolutely know that many who are reading this article would concur. But there is never an excuse to give away the vital life-giving moments that provide the energy to accomplish the routine with a settled heart and focused mind. And although the daily one another’s are not easy to navigate, we are intentional about the opportunity to find God’s design as we fight for space. Will you do the same?

Over the last month, I have been fascinated by a book entitled One Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski. It hasn’t been an easy read, but there have been nuggets that are driving my thoughts toward greater depth and away from the one after another routine. One particular illustration has been especially meaningful.

Mr. Yankoski was told by a friend that if you take a gallon of water, “pouring it into a straw about the size of a human hair, it would reach all the way down to the center of the world, four thousand miles beneath the ground on which you stand.” The point of this story is that if you decrease breadth (size of the straw), then you increase depth. My desire is definitely not to debate how deep the water would penetrate, but to validate the simple principle. Is there anyone who would argue that decreasing clutter, activity (even good), and the one after another’s, would certainly add to the depth and quality of the same activities? Have you ever felt that your work performance, family time and spiritual disciplines would be better if life wasn’t a series of events that never stop and zap your physical and emotional energy? Everything seems to get done, but it lacks the depth you would like.

Understanding the principle of decreasing breadth and increasing depth is the easy part. But your life and mine will probably demand the same one after another activities this week that it did last week, and the week before, and the week before … So what must we do?

It starts with intentionality! What are we going to do to increase our depth? For my wife and me, it is about creating space (non-negotiable), and living by it. It is also a spiritual issue, and we are seeking to apply Psalm 37:7a:  Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. (Msg)  Choosing to tackle every day with this verse in mind creates a different perspective of how to attack the one after another’s that demand our attention.

Do you feel that there is a need to decrease the breadth and increase the depth of your journey? If so, be intentional about making some changes, and even more intentional about engaging Scripture to guide you.



  1. Good message – shouldn’t “easy” in the first line be “easily”?

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