Embracing Inefficiency

By October 18, 2021 No Comments

            I love getting lots of things done quickly and efficiently! Efficiency is nice, neat, and tidy. Efficiency can be quantified and measured. The sense of satisfaction that I get from check marks on my to-do lists borders on obsessive. On the one hand, there’s something to be said for not needlessly wasting time. On the other hand, time is only as valuable as how we spend it, and some of life’s most valuable realities are by their very nature inefficient.

            The New Testament Greek language used two different words to describe time. The first was Chronos, which describes clock time: minutes and hours. Nothing could be more efficient than minutes and hours. Every minute lasts exactly a minute, and every hour comes and goes with exacting precision. The second is Kairos, which describes experiences and moments. Kairos time resists the rigidity of efficiency. Try to rush that special dinner with someone you love, and you’re guaranteed to ruin the evening.

Efficiency is intoxicating. For many people wired like me, there is a satisfaction that comes with getting large quantities of things done, so much so that we easily forget that the best moments in life are not efficient. If we are wise, we work efficiently for the very purpose of making room for life’s best inefficiencies.


  • Relationships are inefficient – We know that relationships that matter benefit from the intentional choice to relax, linger, and be fully present. The nature of love is patient, which means it doesn’t rush. Joy is never experienced while in a hurry.
  • Interruptions are inefficient – Some interruptions are unnecessary and unproductive, but many of the sweetest moments come out of unanticipated interruptions. Our children are famous for these moments. If we are driven by efficiency, we may miss the surprising gift of an interruption.
  • Reflection is inefficient – I deeply believe that reflection is one of the most inefficient, critical habits that one can practice. Reflection breeds clarity, which leads to quality and substance.
  • God is inefficient – God will not be crammed into our tiny little blocks of efficiency. He is our Shepherd. He makes us lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside quiet waters. He restores our soul.

Stop for a moment and consider the pattern of your life. There is a time for everything under the sun. Efficiency and checklists have their place. Yet, they are not the master. They serve the more important inefficient joys that life offers us if we will only slow down.

Will you slow down? Will you linger? Will you make room and space and time for the very best life has to offer?

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