Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Work mostly in the areas of your giftedness and talents

Last year I read Rabbi Daniel Lapin's book Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money. It was a very well written book on personal finance from a Jewish perspective. Rabbi Lapin pulled from the Old Testament, the Torah, and other Jewish writings to make the case for personal responsibility, avoiding debt, wise investing, and making wise decisions that lead to financial security.

I enjoyed that book so much I am currently reading Business Secrets from the Bible: Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance also written by Rabbi Lapin. Don't let the titles fool you. These are not "get rich quick" books that might be touted by prosperity preachers. Both books address taking responsibility for your life, living lives of moderation, developing relationships with other people, and other aspects of a successful and rewarding life written from the perspective of Jewish wisdom.

Some of what he writes would be criticized in our PC-dominated world if they didn't come from a Jewish rabbi. For instance, in the introduction to the second book he mentions the power of specialization and exchange.  He writes, "This is why you will almost never find Jews tinkering with their cars in their driveways on weekend afternoons. In the Jewish neighborhoods of most cities, you'll almost never find Jews mowing their laws. Why? Because we understand the power of specialization." He goes on to say that if he pays a mechanic to maintain his car and someone else to mow his lawn he can focus more time and energy on doing the work he does best. The mechanic wins, the lawn mowing service wins, he wins, and those he serves wins.

This sounds to me like the Pareto Principle in practice. This principle teaches that we achieve 80 percent of our results from 20 percent of our work. If we have more time to focus on those areas that produce the greatest results, we can be even more productive and effective. If we spend too much time on the 80 percent of what we do that only produces 20 percent results we seriously dampen our effectiveness and those we serve are harmed by our reduced productivity.

As I write this, my car is in the shop getting the oil changed and having an issue repaired. My mechanics can do in one hour what it would take me a half-day (or longer) to do. In that half-day I can accomplish a lot of work that I am more gifted to do. My mechanic will receive payment for his work, I will get some work done that I need to do, and the people I serve today will (hopefully) benefit from the time I'll be able to give them.

Bivocational and fully-funded pastors both often complain about the lack of time they have to accomplish everything that is expected of them. One of the reasons for that lack of time is that we often refuse to delegate some tasks to others. There are lay people in our churches who could do some of the things we do better than we can, but we never give them the opportunity.

Each of us are given certain gifts by God for the purpose of ministry. None of us have all the gifts which means we are not going to be good at everything. While we may be responsible for certain things to be done, that does not mean that we have to do them. We should assign responsibility for some tasks to others who are more gifted in those areas than we are. We are responsible to see that those things are done, but we can allow others to do them while we focus on those areas of ministry in which we are more gifted.

This will allow them to serve in the areas where they are gifted, and it will allow us additional time to work in the areas of our own giftedness. Everyone wins in such a scenario.

As I finished writing this article, my mechanic called to say my car is ready to be picked up. Win-win!

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