January 29, 2021
Weekly Reflection – Reengineering the Christian Life
Reengineering the Christian life will not be easy. I worked in the corporate world for some 30 years before transitioning to the vocation of Chaplain. My fundamental skill set began as a “production engineer” in the oil fields. That led to project management and, ultimately, financial analysis.
Toward the end, I spent a year serving as a “reengineering consultant,” helping chemical plants improve their workflow. I recall two aspects that popped up over and over again. The first we called “best practices.” The second was “continuous improvement.” I saw it in the oil industry.
I saw it in the chemical business. And I have observed it in major hospital systems. For example, each used long workflow charts that adorned the walls and encouraged people to add “yellow sticky” notes suggesting areas for improvement.
What might be the “best practice” in caring for a hospital patient? What might be the “best practice” for using contracted services in a large chemical plant? How can we become more efficient and productive in getting oil out of the ground? How might we move from where we are to that more effective place? Does our work reflect “continuous improvement”?
That was my world. And it made sense. Almost all of us want to be the best we can as soon as we can for as long as we can. Isn’t the same especially true for living the Christian life? The Bible defines “best practices.”
The Holy Spirit empowers us to move “continuously” toward that perfect life. And our never-ending search for fulfillment, happiness, and peace is enhanced as we consciously choose to install these “best practices” that are only found in Jesus. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27)
What is the best way to live each of the activities of your life? What works best? How about eating? Do we eat off and on during the day, or are we disciplined to eat modestly at regularly scheduled intervals? How about sleep? Benjamin Franklin, an early American statesman. wrote, “Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
How attentive are we to our sleeping habits? How about exercise? And, of course, how do we manage our money? Do we operate based on a thought through a budget, or do we just deplete our resources impulsively? Do we control these aspects of life, or do they control us? I have a personal saying that “What you measure grows. What you do not measure goes.”
How we pursue each of these areas of life will impact our happiness, peace, and success. And, of course, how attentive we are to our spiritual disciplines is even more critical. How is our prayer life? How effective is our worship? What does our Bible study look like? Does our life reflect the love that Jesus demonstrated? What would the “best practice” for each of these look like?
It is said that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” There is often a great gap between where we are and where we want to be. Ask anyone who wishes to lose weight! The concept of “continuous improvement” encourages us to move in the direction we wish to go “one step at a time.” Reengineering the Christian life can be done. Measure it. Control it. Savor the positive movements! And then, from time to time, look back and see how far you’ve gone.
Let us live the most effective and worthy lives that we can. And the God of peace will reward us.