Interview: The Spiritual Side of Simplicity & Organization

Recently I had an opportunity to ask a few questions of Pastor William T. Chaney. Here are his thoughts on the spiritual side of simplicity and organization.

  • Do you consider yourself organized?

Absolutely! Am I neat? Not so much. I tend to have a system for everything. I call it piles with a purpose. I will let the piles get to about 1 inch and then I place all of the piles in the files or forward them to the appropriate people with routing notes.

  • What does “simplicity” mean to you?

Simplicity means eliminating anything that is not essential. Determining my needs vs. my wants and then evaluating the quantities that are necessary. Simplicity demands that we carry no extra baggage whether that is physical or emotional. How many pads of paper do you need? How often do you really need to purchase a cell phone? Should marketing and advertising drive your purchasing decisions? How much influence do our peers have in our buying decisions? I ask these questions constantly as I strive for simplicity.

  • What do you think of the statement, “Simplicity is a state of mind”?

Simplicity is more than a state of mind it is a discipline. Attitudes, Values and Behavior for the triangle of accountability. When the three line up with each other then you are able to see measurable results when applies to any goal or area of your life. When our simplicity is based on what other people have the evaluation is flawed. True simplicity demands that we develop behaviors based on what is essential for our lives not what other people have. The areas of life that need to be evaluated are Family/Home, Finances, Faith, Career, Emotions, and Physical needs to be constantly evaluated.

  • You mentioned using simplicity as a spiritual practice. How does one do that?

Spiritual discipline affects our business productivity. Spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, reflection and journaling all contribute to our ability to critically think, strategize and prioritize our lives. When we look at Spiritual order as first and then family as our second priority. It is clear that our business priorities then line up with clarity. Our spiritual disciplines help us to moderate crisis in our business by providing us with a sense of groundedness.

  • Do you feel that physical environment is a reflection of one’s internal state?

Yes. The busier I get with stuff including projects that are poorly defined, email that I have no business answering, phone calls with no purpose, unexpected ministry that needs to be done and weekly events that are a part of my responsibilities my offices and the van get cluttered. Remember the piles. They multiply faster than the “system” can absorb them.

  • Do you feel that changing your physical surroundings can have a positive affect on one’s life?

Yes. Sunlight, open space with clearly defined storage space, sufficient color in the room and pictures with a purpose are all good beginning points.

  • If someone wants to pursue “simplicity” in their life, where would you have them start? What resources would you suggest?

To begin a life of simplicity I have a few suggestions:

  • Clean out your closet. Not only for size but for quantity
  • Eliminate paper clutter
  • Eliminate any appliances that you have not used in a year
  • Do a time management evaluation. Keep track of where you are every 30 minutes and then after a week evaluate how much time you wasted and how much time was used effectively.
  • Have your personal purpose statement with mission and vision written on a card and in a place that you can read it daily. Mine is on the bathroom mirror.
  • Read: Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

(You can find Pastor Chaney’s blog at:


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