I remember reading Cheaper by the Dozen between study hall naps in the 7th grade (a story which resembles the 2003 Steve Martin movie in title only).
I loved that book.
The story of Frank and Lilian Gilbreth, time and motion efficiency experts by trade, parents to 12 children by some cruel act of chaos.
The dozen kids things was interesting for sure, but the thought that studying efficiency could become a paying career was almost too much for my emerging control-freak personality to process.
Efficiency is next to godliness. You know it’s true.
Except when it isn’t.
Last week I was hanging out with my friend Andy on the front porch of a local Panera Bread Co. I love spending time with Andy, and we try to meetup at least once every other week over lunch or a cup of coffee. He challenges me. He asks great questions. He makes me laugh. And on a good day, our connection brings each one of us just a little closer to God.
But internally I was wrestling.
Two hours. Away from my family. Away from my to-do list. Delaying dinner. For one guy to move a little closer to Jesus?
Efficiency is in my blood. Do it smarter. Do it faster. Economies of scale. It’s always cheaper by the dozen.
But as a pastor, is it possible this impulse towards efficiency first may actually lead away from what I say I’m all about. If discipleship is only about transferring information, then let’s be efficient and just mass produce. But it’s not only about information.
It’s about Andy.
And some massive inefficiencies.
I’m all for corporate teaching. I believe in small groups. I absolutely love technology for the reach and influence it brings. But I believe the most effective means of long-term transformation may also be the most inefficient. Or is it?
“Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”Luke 18:20-21
Like yeast through dough? Maybe the Kingdom of God spreads most effectively when efficiency isn’t the driving factor. When we define the right goal, but also define the goal right. Maybe Jesus was a bit inefficient at times, too?
What do you think? Do we ever sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency?