A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Can Efficiency Lead to Stinginess?


It's counterintutive, but true:

"A stingy man hastens after wealth, and does not know that poverty will come upon him" (Proverbs 28:22).

On the other hand:

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered" (Proverbs 11:24-25).

This applies in all sorts of ways to all sorts of areas, and it's not just about money. We are to incline towards mercy and generosity in all of our dealings with people.

Generosity means that when you do your work, you do it to the best of your ability — you do more than is expected, not less. When you lead others, you seek their welfare and building up, and not just the accomplishment of tasks. When organizations create policies, their disposition should be towards serving and empowering their people, not first protecting themselves.

In everything we do, in all realms of life, our disposition should be towards service and generosity, rather than self-protection.

Ironically, one of the biggest threats to this is the quest for efficiency. Sometimes, the quest for efficiency can simply become a cloak for stinginess. That's why I don't hit the note of efficiency much on this blog — I believe that the best way to be efficient is simply to be effective. There is a place for efficiency, but be careful of letting efficiency balloon in to stinginess. Make it your first priority to seek that which serves others and benefits them; let efficiency be the second consideration, not the first.

And, in the end, you will find that this is actually far more efficient. "He who waters will himself be watered."


Daniel said...

Allan, this is a really good post. More times than I can count I have heard messages that champion generosity, usually wrapped in a talk about tithing. The 'go-to' passages are usually Luke 6:38, Mal 3:10 and, of course the widow and her mite.

The thing I appreciate about your post is that you highlight generosity/stinginess in other areas of life. For some reason I hardly ever hear about being generous in our labor. This is something Paul seems to be talking about in Eph 4:29 (stop stealing and work to provide for others).

I also like the point about efficiency. Surely God wants us to be efficient. Isn't there a verse somewhere that says, 'efficiency is next to godliness'?

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your comments. I hope you realize that these are not my words, but the words of Matt Perman, whom I mention at the top.

Richard H said...

Sounds right on to me. efficiency sees margins as a waste of space and time, yet it is having margins that allows us room to slow down, breathe, and give time to others.

Daniel said...

Allan,I stand corrected.