Relationships Aren’t Efficient

Nathan Smith Family, Life Skills

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One of the many buzz words of society in the last 10 years has been ‘efficiency’. Increasingly, the population has been striving for getting more out of less. This is great in so many ways.  I’m a bit of a minimalist in my approach to many things (except when it comes to ice cream… still working on that!). I like the idea of not wasting time, money, resources or whatever. Therefore, I am not writing this post with the desire to minimize the value of efficiency. However, much like I did last week, I want to highlight how one tool doesn’t solve every problem. Efficiency is important in many scenarios in life, but in the most important part of life- relationships- efficiency is a killer.  (Read my previous post on the importance of moving forward by clicking here)

People aren’t robots. As much as it may break your heart to hear it, Siri isn’t a real person… at least, not the one you ask random questions to on your Apple device. People aren’t efficient.  People are emotional and complicated and creative and frustrating and oh so incredibly wonderful. I love people. They are amazing. But people aren’t binary. People don’t work like machines. They aren’t processes or procedures. In a world that is constantly trying to improve its ‘workflow’ it can be easy to start treating people and relationships like problems to solve instead of adventures to discover. Adventures are curious and exciting, scary and challenging and so are relationships. They’re supposed to be. Because, like an adventure, relationships are designed to take you places you’ve never been and impact you in such a way that you’re never the same again. But to truly enjoy a new adventure you have to let go of control. And efficiency is rooted in control.

It’s All Out of Control

Fitbit wants me to count my steps and take control of my health. Weight Watchers wants me to count my calories and take control of my waist size. Smart home devices want me to take control of my power consumption at home. Evernote wants me to take control of my projects and filing system. On and on…. All of these things are wonderful but, as you can see, it is all rooted in ‘taking control’ of a situation and improving it. That is great for impersonal objects and objectives but we all know it doesn’t work with people. When we try and take control of relationships by automating our interactions and reducing our conversations to 2 minute highlight reels between smart phone binges, the adventure begins to die. The beautiful, witty, intriguing person we used to know becomes one more task to manage efficiently. We might even be nice about it, but without realizing it we can reduce our relationships to tasks to manage and problems to solve. You are worth so much more and so are the beautiful people in your life.  (Click here to read my most popular post ‘My Smartphone Ate My Prayer Life’)

I have heard it said in many different ways, from many different sources that ‘people skills’ often rank higher than both education and experience when it comes to getting a good job. (Connie Timpson writes about it here and there’s an interesting article on it by AccountTemps here)  Being able to treat people like people is seen as valuable in even the most highly efficient organizations in the world. While many are so focused on getting the right answers in the shortest amount of time, the company you may want to work for one day is wanting to know the that you can relate to people well in the process. No matter what goals we have, people are involved and if we don’t invest the time, energy and emotion needed to build relationships no one may care long enough to learn about our amazing, efficient plans and products we produce. (Click here to read I Need More Grey Hair In My Life)

Jesus stopped to talk with, touch and engage people. He cared and He listened. He still cares and listens. Let’s do the same. Value the people in your life by giving of your time, energy, emotions and input. Check your efficiency at the door when you walk in the room with people you love. Don’t figure them out, love them well. So many relationships have been sacrificed on the altar of efficiency. When it comes to loving and listening and laughing, give and receive generously. Life, family, work and community is so much better when you do.

From The Bible

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV 

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:3 ESV

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 ESV

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