I love it when a plan comes together smoothly. I love it when everyone works together and leans in and gets the job done—quick and clean. I love it when I can move swiftly through my own tasks for the day, ticking off to-do boxes with a satisfied smile. Efficiency is fantastic. Except when it isn’t.
Who wants an efficient friendship? Or marriage? Who would want to visit an efficient park, or art museum? Who prefers drive-through fast food to a slow evening meal where the conversation lasts longer than the courses? It’s great to be efficient, but it’s not always great. Sometimes it’s better to be inefficient and let time slip away while we immerse ourselves in something (or someone) that isn’t a task to accomplish or a to-do box to tick. Efficiency is wonderful for jobs, and terrible for relationships.
Even at work, where the focus is rightfully on tasks, we should still remember that the people we work with are not tasks, and they are not tools, either. It may be more efficient to steamroll, manipulate, or threaten coworkers into submission, but if we can genuinely listen to, work with, and value others, isn’t that worth some extra time? It is. And in the long run, the work culture we build that way will end up with better task results, too.
The same is also true in the church. We help each other change and grow and persevere, and none of those things are efficient. Maybe that’s why it’s so tempting to focus our efforts on programmes we can run smoothly and efficiently, rather than the messy and often confusing work of being there for people who are trying to find their way forward trusting God one step at a time (just like I am).
I guess what I’m saying is this: go on and be efficient and get your tasks done quickly and with excellence. That’s good and right and profitable. But then go walk through the woods and soak in the beauty and talk to your Creator without looking at your watch, or sit with your friends around a table for the whole evening, or make a phone call just to catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while. Be efficient when it’s time to get the job done. Just don’t be efficient all the time.
4 thoughts on “Don’t (Always) Be Efficient”
In Vietnam railroad crossings often have as many as four people moving the gates at just one crossing — gates that here in North America are mechanical and hands off. Vietnam is a third world country and the thousands of (extra) crossing guards help to keep folks employed — but perhaps more importantly the guards add on-the-spot eyes and hands in the case of a breakdown.
It took Jesus of Nazareth four years with frequent “layovers” to preach throughout Israel and accomplish his work on the cross. These were things that he could have finished in one or two years.
So, the suggestion is ‘to slow down’ particularly when it involves the acquiring of material goods. Instead relish the peace and joy promised by our Lord.
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