Not really a balanced universe: II
The first way to use the 80/20 principle (check out Not really a balanced universe: I below) is to focus on the 20 per cent of things you do that have the greatest results.
The second way to use it is to get rid of the 80 per cent of things you do that lead to only 20 per cent of results.
For example, in my easipants business I make most of my sales with tummi tubes and small sized nappies. Some repeat business comes from big nappies, but only a tiny percentage of total sales comes from white nappy covers. The tummi tubes seem to sell themselves, so in the future I will focus on them, but I will not get any more white covers in once the current lot are sold.
The general idea is to simplify. If it doesn't contribute in a big way, is it worth having around? It's quite a challenging thought.
A really trivial application of it is in my wardrobe. There are a whole lot of clothes that I quite like, or I have some emotional attachment to, or I think I might wear one day, if the situation was right. But honestly, I haven't worn them in three years. Who am I kidding? And why am I keeping them? What would it cost me to get rid of them? Why can't I, or why won't I just put them in a bag and send them to the Salvos?
My parents are great examples of simplifiers. It always annoyed me as a teenager that Dad would say, "Oh, you've got a new top? Great! Which one are you now going to get rid of?" He lived his life with about three pairs of undies, three shirts and two pairs of shoes. (Obviously, there were some other things in his wardrobe as well, but it would take too long to itemise them all. You get the idea.) And my mum was always fabulous at cleaning out when we moved. "Do you want this? No? Right. Out it goes!"
Perhaps there are ways I can simplify other areas of life by using the 80/20 principle - not just getting rid of physical stuff, but perhaps old habits, unuseful prejudices or patterns of thought that don't help in my major goal of becoming more like Christ. What are the things that give the greatest results in me growing closer to God? Do more of them. What are the things that give the least results and take my energy away from the goal? Get rid of them.
There must be ways that churches can be more effective by using this principle. I've always found it interesting to look at Acts 2:42. It tells about the life of the very new, very early church after Pentecost.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer.
These must have been the things that led to the greatest 'results' in the newly formed body of believers. All the extras that got tacked on over time, and including in our own churches... are they part of the 20 per cent or the 80 per cent? Do we just need to be brave and get rid of some things we do so we can more effectively focus on the most useful?