happily inefficient

i am bothered by the word “efficiency.”  it is fingernails on the chalkboard for me.  i am almost equally bothered by the word “excellence.”  they are two of the most popular buzzwords in current church culture (thankfully, i think we’ve outgrown “relevant”).  efficiency is defined as “the ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort.”  at what point did we decide the church needed to be efficient?  doesn’t the bible teach that trials and difficulties (i.e.: “time and effort”) are not to be strategically eliminated, but embraced as our path to spiritual maturity? (james 1:2-4)

i’ve seen lazy pastors in my life and i zealously guard myself against my natural tendency toward complacency.  but what were we thinking when we started teaching time management at church leadership conferences?  are we suggesting that a better manager makes a better minister?  and is it possible that we have brushed aside some of our most cherished values in favor of bigger and better and “more successful”?

in “the sacred romance,” brent curtis and john eldredge write:

On the outside, there is the external story of our lives.  This is the life everyone sees, our life of work and play and church, of family and friends, paying bills, and growing older.  Our external story is where we carve out the identity most others know…There is a spiritual dimension to this external world  in our desire to do good works, but communion with God is replaced by activity for God.  There is little time in this outer world for deep questions.

The inner life, the story of our heart, is the life of deep places within us, our passion and dreams, our fears and our deepest wounds.  It is the unseen life, the mystery within–what Buechner calls our “shimmering self.”  It cannot be managed like a corporation.  The heart does not respond to principles and programs; it seeks not efficiency, but passion…It is why Jesus so often taught and related to people by telling stories and asking questions.  His desire was not to engage their intellects but to capture their hearts.

i love that line, “The inner life…cannot be managed like a corporation...it seeks not efficiency, but passion.”

the pharisees were champions at all things intellectual.  they were on top of their game: technically perfect, majoring in “efficiency” and “excellence.”  jesus, however, could not stay on schedule.  when people were expecting him, he often got up early and disappeared for hours at a time.   sometimes he stayed up too late hanging with his peeps.  he patiently shared the truth with condescending religious leaders who despised him…not a terribly efficient use of his time.

it’s a good thing we’ve figured out a better way.





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