Monday, June 11, 2012

The Pareto Principle

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1 (NIV)
The other day I was thinking about the Pareto Principle. I find it fascinating that the Pareto Principle rings so true in so many areas of life. What’s the Pareto Principle you ask? Simply put, the Pareto Principle is the 80-20 rule that says eighty percent of the effects that are observed in any given phenomenon come from a mere twenty percent of the possible causes. So in the business environment, you’ll hear people saying things like, “Eighty percent of our sales come from twenty percent of our customers.” Or in economics you might hear someone claim, Then there is the law enforcement version. “Eighty percent of a community’s crimes are committed by twenty percent of the community’s criminals.” But here’s the kicker. The Pareto Principle doesn’t appear to be some obscure old-time saying born out of an abundance of common sense. No . . . apparently research in many different disciplines and industries consistently supports the theory of the Pareto Principle. I find this amazing! And my fascination causes me to wonder . . . does this apply to the body of Christ? Does this describe how people are serving the Lord?

Well . . . as a matter of fact . . .
Here’s the church version of the Pareto Principle. Eighty percent of financial gifts given to a church come from twenty percent of its membership. A mere twenty percent of any given church’s membership accounts for eighty percent of the volunteer work accomplished. It’s also estimated that less than twenty percent of all Christians actually reach out to the lost. Wow . . . I don’t know about you, but this breaks my heart and makes me wonder if eighty percent of all prayers offered up come from only twenty percent of all believers? If these things are indeed true then the implication is inescapable – only twenty percent of the body of Christ is truly devoted to His kingdom? What percentile do you find yourself in? I pray that as you read this, you will be honest with yourself and confess that you, just like me, just like others, fall short of becoming the living sacrifice Paul speaks of in Romans.

Worship is the way you live, not the way you sing
The important take away here is that Paul is teaching us that when we give ourselves in sacrificial service to Jesus then we are worshipping him. In other words worship isn’t just what we do on Sunday morning, it’s actually the way we live our lives. We are to serve him every day, every hour, every minute. That’s why Paul deliberately uses the word “body” (soma) in this passage. He is pointing out the depths to which our worship should go and how pleasing it is to God.

Change your mind
I recently spoke on John 1:12 and more specifically about the responsibilities of those of us who are called the children of God. The group I was speaking to made a covenant to step out this week and intentionally provide sacrificial service to someone in the name of Christ. So what occurred that brought this group to a point of action? They changed their mind – well, actually their minds were renewed. You see, as Paul speaks to us about the renewing of our minds, he’s talking about a transformation that will find itself in God’s perfect will – a transformation that you can choose to undergo. Change the way you think and you can change the way you live. I pray that you will renew your mind toward a willingness to become the living sacrifice that worshipping the Living God requires.

Scripture to claim
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:23-24 Ephesians 4:23-24 (NIV)

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