Angered by a silly mistake I made at work.
Irritated by my failure to accomplish something.
Annoyed by the amount of time it takes to do simple errands.
Frustrated by seemingly unnecessary traffic.
Aggravated by the amount of homework I must complete.
These are a few of the many ways I regularly become frustrated. Frustration is one of my common feelings because I love to accomplish things. Perhaps you can relate. And maybe inefficiency drives you crazy, too.
The Cause of Our Obsession with Efficiency
Unfortunately, task-oriented people tend to believe that inefficiency is a sin. We believe that if we cannot maximize every second with “productive” activities, we are wasting time. We prioritize accomplishing goals, checking off to-do lists, and finishing projects.
But did God ever say that inefficiency was a sin? Not really. When I searched for the words “efficiency” and “inefficiency” on Bible Gateway, there were zero results. Zero.
The first time I really heard about the idea that inefficiency can actually be a good thing was from author and pastor John Piper in this segment on Desiring God. Personally, I don’t think inefficiency is a sin. But we may fall into that lie because inefficiency is uncomfortable.
Efficiency is comfortable. It makes us feel better about ourselves. It makes us believe we are better than others. We may even be tempted to believe we are worth more because we try to take advantage of every possible second.
But being productive doesn’t make us holy. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t think we should purposefully use our time unwisely. That goes against God’s Word (Ephesians 5:15-17). However, I don’t think efficiency—according to the world’s definition—is godly.
When We Should Be “Inefficient”
In this life, inefficiency is inevitable. It may take you two hours to drive to work when it should only take one. You may have to wait in line at the store for 20 minutes when you have a million tasks to do at home. You may have to sit in an incredibly boring meeting for an hour even when you have a work project to finish.
But sometimes, we must choose “inefficiency” over “efficiency.” God’s will does not always seem efficient or productive. Here are a few examples:
- Your friend is struggling because she is suffering from depression. You offer to watch her kids this Saturday so she can have a break, even though you won’t be able to complete your list of housework. (The world calls this lost time, but God sees it as compassion.)
- Your church’s attendance has been low lately, so the pastor and members have felt discouraged. Instead of completing your weekly class presentations early, you decide to start attending the Thursday night Bible study to encourage them. (The world sees this as lost productivity, but God views it as encouragement.)
- Your brother hasn’t been able to fix his leaky roof because he just lost his job. Though you were planning to use your latest paycheck to finish up your home renovations, you give it to your brother to pay for the roof repairs. (The world claims this is a lost resource, but God sees it as kindness.)
Ultimately, we can’t (and shouldn’t) always focus on doing the next thing because someone may need us right now.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4 ESV)
Unproductivity may cause us to feel bad about ourselves, but it shouldn’t. Efficiency—whether it involves our time, money, or resources—does not make us holy. Loving others is worth the price of lost productivity. And, in God’s Word, we see that loving others is productive in increasing His kingdom.