Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 9 September 2017
Page 11

The Pareto Principle

Ed Benesh

Ed BeneshThe Pareto Principle or 80-20 rule applies not just to the workplace, but also to life in general. Essentially, the principle states that 80 percent of the effects can be attributed to 20 percent of the causes. We would say, “Eighty percent of the work to be done is accomplished by twenty percent of the people.” In business the standard rule of sales is that “eighty percent of your sales comes from twenty percent of your clients.” Concerning computers, Microsoft found that by fixing the top 20 percent of reported problems or bugs, eighty percent of the crashes and failures could be eliminated.

We certainly see such things in ministry or works of the church in general. One of the biggest complaints that one often hears in ministry is that “when we have work parties or anything that needs to be done, it’s the same small group that does them.” More often than not, that is true. Though every child of God has an obligation to work, most of that work will be done by the few, perhaps with good reasons or perhaps not.

Yet, I want you to think of this principle in terms of your own life. Essentially what the principle, if indeed we can apply it to an individual’s actions, says is that 80 percent of the actions we may choose or not choose on a daily basis will have little effect. Only twenty percent of these actions will have some sort of affect. There are times when I think that is true. There are times when I feel like I am spinning my wheels, never gaining traction or accomplishing any sort of good. I teach, preach, study, teach, preach, study and then teach and preach some more, and I wonder often, “To what end? What affect does it have?”

It was during one of those moments of discouraged thinking that the Pareto Principle came to mind—well, not so much the principle itself, but the way to beat it. You see, that is what I want to do. I want my actions to count. I don’t like feeling as if my efforts are futile—not even a small portion of them. I want them to be significant 100 percent of the time.

Of course they can be, but it is going to require from me something beyond what I had given, which, in reality, can be found in a single decision. It will require me to give myself fully to the purposes of God so that every action takes on His spiritual significance, so each action lays up treasure for eternity and so His light fully shines in me. It means I can’t give Him just a percent of my life. I have to give it all. When I reach that point, then I am sure the discouragement will dissipate, fading into nothingness behind the veil of the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

All too often, we do not give God our best. We are like the Israelites offering the lame and wounded sheep of the flocks that He gave in abundance. Only twenty percent of what we do in service, worship and life is spiritually fraught with meaning. God wants it all, and until we submit to Him our all, then our spirituality will always be deficient and discouraging.

In this day, what will you decide? I wonder what percent of you will give it your all for Him? Twenty percent? Eighty? God only knows. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NKJV).

All the World’s a Stage

Cliff Holmes

William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” If that is true then, how long is our performance? What is our role in the performance? What entrances? What exits? What lies between curtain up and final curtain call?

We appear in the age of love and innocence, born of two people who love each other dearly. We are brought in to a family filled with love and devotion to the idea that we are going to be the wisest, most charming child, grandchild, brother, sister, niece or nephew ever. We learn to walk, talk, eat, dress ourselves and deal with living among siblings or other children. Our family tries to teach us how to be the best person we are capable of being. Education we receive will help us achieve that goal.

As we age a bit, we begin to believe that we can find a better way on our own. We have our own desires and wishes for what we will do with this life we have been given. A dark shadow of temptation comes into focus. We see things, ways and ideas that appear to be enjoyable. Yet, fellow players on this stage may say that it is not so.

We wish to “find” ourselves. We want to make our own way through this performance. This is the age in which we think we know more than others know. This is the age when sin lures us into deep, dark paths from which it may be very difficult to return. Some within one’s circle of family, friends and society see that we are on a dangerous path, and wish to help us avoid the pitfalls.

They are not being mean or judgmental; they just want you to examine our roles in life and act according to the will of the stage director. “Who is He?” you ask. It is God who planned, produced and is now auditioning you for a part in the grand drama that He set in motion even before we were born.

The real question is what kind of performance are we showing day by day? Does God see a well done performance as we have stepped upon this stage? Will He applaud us with a “Well done good and faithful servant” at the final curtain call? That is greater than any earthly award could ever be.

Yes, the fact is that God is the audience. He sees it all. Our concern should be what kind of performance are we giving?

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