Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The 20% of Our Lives

A highway rest area has this signboard: “It is the stop that keeps you going”

It is not about how much we do, but in doing them, are they the most important things in our lives. If Pareto principle holds true to life, then pausing and reflecting makes a lot of sense.

Let's recap what's Pareto principle is (also known as the 80-20 rule). In a nutshell, "roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes." Applying this:

Time: 20% of our time produces 80% of the results.
Counselling: 20% of the people take up 80% of our time.
Work: 20% of our effort gives us 80% of our satisfaction.
Ministries: 20% of the ministries provide 80% of the fruit.
Leadership: 20% of the people make 80% of the decisions.
Workers: 20% of the members do 80% of the ministry.
Mentoring: 20% of the influencers are where you should invest your time.

Do you see where this is heading? It would be terrible to discover that at the end of our life, we are investing into things that are unfruitful. Imagine the exponential effect of the good we can do when we invest rightly.

This is so true in our life journey. We need to make frequent stops on the way, look back and reflect on our ways so that we can move effectively forward. Without the stops, our lives become terribly tiring and boring as Henri Nouwen puts it:

“It is remarkable how much of our life is lived without reflection on its meaning. It is not surprising that so many people are busy but bored! They have many things to do and always running to get them done, but beneath the hectic activity they often wonder if anything is truly happening. A life that is not reflected upon eventually loses its meaning and becomes boring. Spiritual reading is a discipline that keeps us reflecting on our lives as we live them….We have to keep asking ourselves: ’What does it all mean? What is God trying to tell us? How are we called to live in the midst of all this?’ Without such questions our lives become numb and flat. But are there any answers? There are, but we will never find them unless we are willing to live the questions first and trust that, as Rilke says, we will, without even noticing it, grow into the answer”.
In Search of Meaning from “Here and Now” by Henri Nouwen.

So what is the 20% of your life? The principle of fruitfulness is a biblical idea. Colossians 1:10 "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,"
Matthew 13:23 "But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

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