I am in a very busy season of life, feeling I am juggling an ever increasing load of work, seeking ways to maximize my productivity and increase my efficiency all the time.
As I pondered my “efficiency” over these weeks I was reminded of a book I read several years ago by Ruby Payne entitled A Framework for Understanding Poverty. In the book she talks about something most of us rarely think about – what people give up in order to move from poverty to the middle class or from the middle class to wealth. The major thing that people need to be willing to give up is relationships. Specifically she feels that to move from poverty to the middle class we need to be willing to give up relationships for efficiency.
Its true, the busier we get – and our middle class lifestyles are extremely busy, the less time we have for meaningful relationships. Our relationships to our families and to our friends and to God can suffer severely and our relationships to God’s worldwide community is often not even on the screen. We stop eating meals together, schedule our summers with programs rather than family outings, and sit in front of screens rather than people. No wonder family breakups are common and our indifference to the suffer of others is epidemic.
This was all brought home to me this morning as I reread Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, by Henri Nowen, Donald MacNeill, and Douglas Morrison.
“Discipleship is walking together on the same path. While still living wholly in the world, we have discovered each other as fellow travellers on the same path and have formed a new community…. We have become a new people with a new mind, a new way of seeing and hearing, and a new hope because of our common fellowship with Christ.”
We cannot walk together unless we are willing to take time for each other and that might mean being willing to give up some of our efficiency and productivity for relationships. In order to be good followers of Christ I think we need to revisit our values and the principles that under gird our lives.
After Jesus resurrection he appeared to his disciples on several occasions. The thing that intrigues me is the intimacy and seeming inefficiency of these appearances. He wastes a whole day walking with 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus, he relaxes on the beach in Galilee making breakfast for his friends and he takes time to calm the fears and anxieties of those who afraid. Not what we would expect of someone whose great sacrifice had just brought salvation to the world. Maybe all of us would be more effective followers of Christ if we focussed less on accomplishing tasks and more on developing and nurturing relationships. What do you think?