As a wife and mother of two who attended seminary while working, I have developed efficient routines for most everything.
Once a month, I sit down with my calendar and plan out each day of the next month. I set goals and meetings and use colored pens to designate the purpose of the calendar item.
Once a week, I take my monthly calendar and transcribe it by hand onto a weekly calendar. I make edits and set daily goals.
My entire day from wakeup to bedtime is often a model of efficiency. I know how long it takes me to drink a cup of coffee, write an email, shower, drive to common destinations, and perform certain tasks, and I schedule my day around this knowledge.
I struggle when I am in a new environment or learning a new task because efficiency goes out the window. I am anxious and frustrated with myself for mistakes made when I feel like I’ve wasted time for myself or others.
A friend once pointed out that efficiency is often an idol in my life. While I appreciated that wise observation, I had to stop being efficient to ponder it. This led to frustration with myself for not realizing that my own pursuit of efficiency was chasing an idol. I was also frustrated about the inefficiency of having to stop being efficient to realize that I’m chasing efficiency as an idol.
As a new pastor, I am always looking for ways to learn and grow. I subscribe to multiple newsletters and read articles and books on practices and routines that help me fit more into my day. I also listen to ministry podcasts on my commute to help me grow in ministry efficiently. Sadly, ministry growth doesn’t happen as quickly or efficiently as I can read about it!
Besides efficiency, another focus of my life is connection. No matter where I am, I am always trying to make connections with people. Last night my children and I ate dinner at Waffle House and made friends with the waitstaff as well as the diner in the next booth. I asked a few questions and we all listened to stories from the staff and customers. Our time turned into one of the most fascinating dinners we’ve had. This is one of my callings in the world. No matter where I am, I ask questions and am enthusiastic to listen to people’s stories.
Through all my learning and growing, I am coming to understand that efficiency and connection are polar opposites. If I am efficiently completing my to-do list, I am not stopping at Waffle House for dinner and asking why the waiter’s name tag says “Magical Cat.” Conversely, if I do stop to ask a question of connection, opening myself to listen to the response is inefficient.
As someone who has always pursued efficiency, it’s been hard to understand connection as both what I’m called to do and the opposite of what I’m often doing.
For a long time, efficiency has been necessary for my life. A part time ministry job, seminary classes, and two active children as well as a husband with long work hours demanded that I live an efficient lifestyle. But now I’ve graduated seminary and the kids are getting older and increasing in independence.
I am trying to abandon the idolic pursuit of efficiency and pivot to the pursuit of connection.
This pivot is another reason I am so thankful to God for the opportunity to serve at FUMC Hurst. My position includes pastoral care for our senior adults, and God couldn’t have placed me in a more perfect position. Every time I visit a senior adult at their home, circumstance demands that I pivot from efficiency to connection. Senior adults have lived longer than me and can explain to me, from experience, how the pursuit of efficiency is a worldly quest that ends in exhaustion. Conversely, the pursuit of connection brings joy.
I meet with multiple senior adults a week and not one of them has shared a story with me of how efficiently they have lived their life. Instead, they share with me stories of relationships.
Lately, God has placed a desire in my heart to drop my pursuit of efficiency. During his time on this earth, Jesus did not say, “Blessed are the efficient.” Instead, in John 15:12, he said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” I know in my heart that this is what we are called to do. If only there were an efficient way to get this into my head, then I could efficiently move to the next piece of wisdom!
Do you struggle with pivoting from efficiency to connection? I’d love to hear your story! (Really!) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.