The Crucial 5%

Wayne Cordeiro is the pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii.  In his book, Leading on Empty, he makes a proposition that is well worth considering.*

Wayne says that 85% of what we do can be done by anybody: ordering supplies, mailing packages, making phone calls, cooking meals, running errands, etc.  The next 10% of what we do can be done by anybody with the proper training: running the company computer program, leading a meeting, organizing a task force, etc.  The final 5% of what we do can only be done by the individual himself.

In my case, for example:

No one can build my relationship with Christ for me.  I have to do it myself.

No one can fulfill the vows I made to my wife for me.  I have to do it myself.

No one can exercise for me.  I have to do it myself.

The problem is that most of us invest the vast majority of our time and energy in the 85%.  Why?  Probably two reasons.  One, the 85% is always right in front of us crying out for our attention.  And two, the 85% is easy.  (Remember, anybody can do it.)

The question is, how would our lives be different if we delegated a lot of the 85% and some of the 10% and focused our energies on the 5%?

One of the reasons this resonates with me is because a few years ago I experienced the principle first hand.  I was trying to handle everything that went with being the pastor of a church and an author all at the same time.  I was going through stacks of snail mail every day and answering dozens of emails.  I was writing sermons, teaching classes, writing new books, doing PR work for my old books, booking speaking engagements and then traveling all over creation to fulfill them.

One day, I had a meltdown.  It happened when I forgot to show up at a speaking engagement that I had booked myself.  The poor people who were waiting on me to speak assumed I was hung up in traffic.  They later found out that I wasn’t even in their town!  I’d never been more embarrassed.

That day, Marilyn and I sat down and had a heart to heart.  She said, “You’re trying to do too much.  You’ve got to start delegating most of what you’re doing and just focus on the stuff that only you can do.”  She’d never read Wayne Cordeiro’s book, but she was saying exactly the same thing.

So that’s what we did.  (I say “we” because she helped me more than you can imagine.)  I no longer look at any of the mail that comes to our church.  I no longer serve as my own booking agent.  I no longer do regular counseling appointments.  I no longer serve on any advisory boards.  I no longer accept invitations to pray before ballgames or scout meetings or county commission meetings.  I no longer coach a softball team.  It was our conclusion that all of these things (and many more) can be done by others, and in many cases, done much better than I was doing them.

In addition to my own spiritual life, I now focus on the family God has given me, the church he has led me to serve, and the writing ministry he has opened up to me.  Sure, there are things that play off of those four responsibilities, like speaking and maintaining this blog, for example.  But my life is much more streamlined than it used to be.  For that reason, I am much more productive than I used to be.  My family is much happier than it used to be.  And I believe I am a better Christian than I used to be.

What about you?  Are you spending every waking moment trying to keep up with the 85% while the crucial 5% is neglected?

*I want to thank Jorge Pelayo and Jasmin Castillo of Los Angeles, California, for sending me this book.

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One Response to The Crucial 5%

  1. Dave Robinson says:

    I had a similar moment of clarity myself. During my moment of crisis, my wife said, “you are worried about pleasing the wrong people”. Equally important is something I read in Let It Go–It is OK to say no and it is OK to change my mind. Sounds simple, but that concept was a spiritual awakening for me!

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