The 20-80 rule

Years ago, I heard someone offer a rule of thumb: “20 per cent of the people do 80 per cent of the work.”

It’s a catchy phrase, but it seems to reflect reality in many places, churches included.

Churches seem to have a hard time recruiting volunteers.  Why is that?

Probably various reasons.  One reason may be that families are extra busy these days – parents working, children in sports and music lessons and so on.

But the question of priorities comes to mind.  What were Jesus’ priorities? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and your neighbour as yourself.

As parents, my wife and I were involved in toting children to lessons and sports.  I realize that lessons and sports are important in a child’s development.  But they can become all-consuming.

Parents, too, can be swallowed up in their jobs.  I recognize that I was chained to my desk for longer hours than I should have been.

In the end, though, we have to think about what is eternally important.  Eternity wasn’t top of mind for me in my peak working years.  It is now.

I believe it is possible to work, help your children grow and develop, and serve the Lord.  But God should be at the centre of life.

Jesus was very direct about this.  In Matthew 6:20-21, he says:

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Jesus is saying we will be rewarded for loving God and loving others, rewarded in heaven if not in this world.  That is hard to grasp for us earthlings, but it is truth.

Of course, we can serve God wherever we are, not only in a church.  God asks us to do everything as if we were doing it for him.

But I suspect the volunteer problem in churches is due, in part, to people focusing more on earthly treasures than heavenly ones.  Many of these treasures are good in themselves, but they are less than what God wants for us.

It’s a truth that is, at last, sinking into my mind and heart.

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2 comments so far

  1. Caroline Lewandowsky on

    I completely agree with you… Although our children are grown, and not gone from home yet, our jobs, hobbies and friendships seem to consume all our time. I really need to set my focus and keep my eyes on Jesus. He is my first Love and I feel I am letting Him down.
    This was my verse today..
    If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
    —2 Chronicles 7:14
    Bob, Thank you, for all you do …. A true warrior for the Kingdom!
    Caroline L.

    • Robert Douglas on

      Caroline, I don’t know of a more committed child of God than you. Thank you for the note.


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