Efficiency with Consideration
ARE you perhaps one of those multitudes of persons who have felt themselves to be just small, slighted cogs in a large, efficient, machinelike organization? If so, you probably feel justified in being resentful. Even if there is justification, however, is it really to your advantage to allow resentment to eat away at your sense of happiness and well-being? Surely not. How much better to try to understand the value of genuine efficiency, apply it in your own life and relationships, and confidently expect that your good example will rub off on some of those who observe you.
When Pharaoh of Egypt discontinued supplying straw to Israelite slaves but insisted that they find their own straw and maintain the same production of bricks, this was not efficiency. It was downright oppression. On the other hand, if you are head of a family, you do like to see the household operating smoothly and economically, do you not? Efficiency means attainment of the desired results without waste. So, is not that the very thing you are after?
Now, take a look at how things go in your own family. If you demand perfection of everyone and set up rules and regulations to enforce your requirements, you soon encounter a reaction of resentment if not open rebellion. But is it wrong to expect your family continually to do better and better? No, for Jesus called upon his imperfect followers to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) We know, of course, that man in his present state is not perfect. Nevertheless, this invitation is to strive to be like our heavenly Father. Striving to be like him will keep us on the right path and in the right mental attitude, and will result in our spending our lives in a happy, productive and satisfying manner.
From your own experience you know that efficient handling of your household takes more than a list of cold rules and regulations. It takes patient education of the family on your part, a readiness to give personal demonstrations of how things should be done. Then, too, you have to take into account the age, ability and emotional makeup of each member, and give to each one just the right kind of encouragement and help. From this you begin to see that the wastage that combats genuine efficiency is not merely waste of time and material. It includes waste and wear of the precious human assets that go to make up a family. Worldly bosses often do not take this most vital asset of their organization into full account. Their programs of efficiency are devoid of loving consideration.
While it is true that no family head and no overseer of men can afford to countenance laziness or heedlessness, they should realize that pressuring people or expecting too much of them is not the way of efficiency. The highest standard of work will be performed by those who are in a happy, contented frame of mind. Such ones will be willing to accept correction when deserved, as long as they are also receiving commendation for jobs well done. And when they do make an infrequent blunder, patient training, and not the crack of a whiplike tongue, will work wonders.
Consider the position of a Christian who happens to be an overseer in some plant or office. He is properly anxious to promote and increase the interests entrusted to his care, for this is in accord with Bible principle. (Luke 19:11-27) How will he achieve efficiency? Not by cold, impersonal directives and not by loud, insistent demands for greater and greater production. Rather, he will be convinced that, of all the assets of the organization he is serving, human creatures are the most valuable; for they have a marvelous potential of intelligence, resourcefulness and adaptability. The finest machines in the world are useless without the know-how and technique of the men and women required to operate them. So he will be concerned about their well-being, their mental and emotional as well as their physical health. He will strive to maintain a relationship with each one of them on a level that accords with the proper dignity of human creations of God.
It is well known that when machines are continually operated at speeds beyond those for which they were built, the life of the machines is drastically shortened and costly repair bills make their appearance. This reminds us that machines are usually started off, when new, at comparatively low speeds, and then gradually stepped up to maximum speed as time goes on. The wise operator knows when he has reached the safe maximum speed. Though humans are not machines, the Christian overseer will see in this illustration the basis for expecting each worker gradually to build up his or her efforts to maximum efficiency, and will perceive when the safe peak of efficiency has been reached in each individual case. That safe peak is the tempo of production at which the worker can continue indefinitely without undue physical or mental strain.
Thus, while a Christian will work hard to keep waste at a minimum and guard against slothfulness, he knows that he cannot produce perfection out of imperfection. The hard-driving, demanding boss may be extolled in the business world, but he is disapproved by God’s Word for his lack of consideration. Under inspiration Solomon wrote: “I myself have seen all the hard work and all the proficiency in work, that it means the rivalry of one toward another; this also is vanity and a striving after the wind.” (Eccl. 4:4) The world’s tactics in this respect grow out of the selfish nature of the works in which they are engaged. They produce ruthless competitions, hatreds, stomach ulcers and a host of other ills—in a word, vanity.
Even though you may feel, then, that you are not receiving proper recognition and loving consideration, why indulge in resentment? It can only do damage to you. Rather, determine that the members of your family and others who may work under your direction are going to be aided, with loving consideration, to be efficient.