Inefficient is not ineffective.
I know what the definition says, and I know what you hear in your head when you hear inefficient. But that is not the kind of inefficiency I am talking about.
The negative connotation that goes along with inefficiency is one of laziness, insufficient, and a lack of caring. I have never heard Jesus described that way, nor have I read Jesus described that way.
But if we look at the life of Jesus, we see that He was anything from efficient.
There is a temptation today to make everything efficient. Your morning routine, your children, your job, your part-time job, your spouse, and maybe even your God. This temptation is in the name of effectiveness, a chance to speed up life and to get to the next thing in the most timely manor. If the fastest way to a point is straight, then you are headed straight.
Efficiency has crept its way in to our culture and has taken on words such as hustle, effective, and passion. And on the surface efficiency sounds great. It has become a way of life for many. This might provide them the opportunity to make more money for their family, write books, and take more meetings. Being efficient is doing everything to its absolute maximum and in the timeliest of manors.
The danger of efficiency is when it turns in to a way of life. When it becomes the only way to operate. When you start to make it your god. The temptation of efficiency is to always want more, to always take on more, and to systemize every action taken.
The thought of inefficiency might be the most inefficient thing you do today.
But looking at the life of Jesus, He does a lot of “inefficient” things.
Whether it was the time He decided to eat with a tax collector named Zacchaeus. Or the time He waited to go and check on His friend Lazarus. Or how about when He was suppose to be rushing off to save a dying child only to stop because He felt someone tugging on his jacket. Or maybe that time He called the Pharisee (the religious leaders of the day) a brood of vipers. Or how about when told the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow Him. Or maybe when He told a group of potential followers to let the dead bury the dead.
I am sure the disciples had several moments where they wondered about Jesus path to efficiency. Where they argued about how effective Jesus was really being. In fact, we see a bit of this exchange when Jesus is teaching a large crowd. The disciples, realizing the potential problem ahead, tell Jesus to let the people go home because dinner is approaching. This obviously was in the name of efficiency. But Jesus had another plan.
Even in Jesus’ time, the demands for him to be efficient were overwhelming. He was suppose to be the one that overtook the Roman rule and lead the Israelite people to power, to authority, and to prominence. His path to efficiency was through shaking the right hands, kissing the right babies, and hanging out with the right people. It was all in front of Him. He needed to follow the plan and everything would fall in to place.
But reading the Gospels, Jesus took the path that no one else would have taken to power, He became death so that we may live. He took on sin so that we may be covered by His grace.
If we learn anything from Jesus it was that He had a plan, it just wasn’t what we would have done. His plan was messy, it wasn’t efficient, and it was all about people. There was no system for Jesus, it wasn’t a step 1, 2, and 3 membership class, and it never made sense in the moment.
I think efficiency is so appealing because it can be predictable.
It is the only surefire way to have a guess at what the result will be. But what happens when efficiency leaves you empty? What happens when the system you created for your followers leaves them empty? What happens all the barriers are removed in the name of efficiency but there is still a huge gap between hearing and doing?
There is nothing wrong with efficiency. But when it becomes the only way to live it starts to rob moments that could have been. Imagine if Jesus never fed the 5000. Would life go on for those people if they had to go home and eat? Yes. Would they have been able to have practical application to the teaching of Jesus and His promise of providing? No.
I am afraid that our efficiency could be robbing ourselves and others the opportunities to have moments of growth. That the very way of living efficient could be stealing the every day miracle of life. Efficiency is the most inefficient thing you can do.
Should we live a life of chaos and wastefulness? No. Should we live a life that allows what some would call distractions (inefficiencies) to interrupt our schedule? Yes. Because those could be the very moment where God is speaking, showing, and doing something amazing in yours and others lives.
Maybe the most efficient thing we can do today is to look for chance to be inefficient in the way we love.
Thankfully my friend Jeff is calling us to live inefficient.