Is efficiency over-rated?
In our fast-paced, tech-saturated culture, we hear a lot of older adults complain about young people over-using their smart phones. And obviously, we who are older, supposedly wiser, and a bit less tech savvy can be just as guilty and addicted.
FaceTime replaces in person face-to-face; text messaging replaces phone calls; and emailing replaces letters formerly written in the now-almost-extinct cursive script. By defaulting to our virtual communication methods, life in this digital age can begin to lose some of its richer texture, context, and personality---like touch, voice intonation, and handwriting.
While broadening our communication range and improving access, some of our tech choices can reduce face-to-face conversations---not only between friends but with others as well.
Because we live ten minutes outside town, I find myself banking and shopping more electronically. And even when in town I opt for the ATM rather than stepping inside a bank. This "efficient" behavior results in fewer relationships with bank tellers and store clerks---fewer opportunities to let the love of Christ shine in the marketplace of life.
For decades our neighboring state of Oregon has helped prod some of us toward meaningful interaction with humans: gas station attendants who pump our gas, clean our windshield and even check our fluid levels. (It’s illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon.)
On our recent trek to Mexico, our efficiency-minded team members wondered why we were mixing concrete by hand instead of using a hydraulic mixer. Truth is, many of us needed the exercise, and we enjoyed the camaraderie and team building as we worked together productively, albeit slower than a noisier, automated approach.
And here I am, communicating with you via the world wide web, trying my best to keep it real and personal, while realizing it's too often impersonal and one-way. (Hint: Feel free to comment below!)
We do want to be good stewards of our time, and we won’t give up on efficiency. But we want to be careful too that we’re not shielding ourselves from opportunities to share Christ’s love in a more personal way.
“Slow Down---Save a Life.” This roadway sign can apply to our spiritual lives. Significant opportunities for touching lives can show up on the less efficient, slower path.
So the question we need to ask ourselves more often is not "What's fastest, most efficient?" but "How can we best glorify Christ? They are not always one and the same.
“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry?
Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?
But you say, ‘I can’t help it.
I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’
Jeremiah 2:25 (The Message)