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The 80/20 Principle and God's Kingdom

by Marilyn Adamson, director of EveryStudent.com and StartingwithGod.com

Years ago I read a book called, “The 80/20 Principle” by Richard Koch. He was not the first to notice this principle, but he does an excellent job of explaining it.

Bottom line is this…it is often the case that 20% of efforts brings 80% of results.

20% of the shirts in your closet, you wear 80% of the time.
20% of a store’s products results in 80% of their profits.
20% of employees in a company bring 80% of the company’s success.
20% of a country’s rainstorms might bring 80% of its annual rain totals.

It’s not always exactly 20/80. It might be 10/90 sometimes. But it’s a general principle that often holds true.

You might consider this principle as you plan your time and commitments.

Each day, as I look at my long “to-do” list, I ask God to guide my time and efforts to the right 20% that will bring the greatest results, toward what I believe he’s called me to do.

Why am I sharing this 80/20 principle with you?

It’s good to know that all efforts are not equal. I hope that encourages you! It isn’t a matter of working equally hard on everything!! It means choosing to focus on the most strategic 20% of possible options that you think are most likely to bring the greatest results.

Ultimately we want to be led by God. But in that, I see God also commending people for wisdom. If we have freedom in how we use our time, if we have freedom in choosing what to commit ourselves to….ask God to help you realize and focus on that 20% that is most strategic, most useful, toward accomplishing what he has put on your heart.

This 80/20 principle came to mind today as I was studying the “kingdom of God.”

I looked at how Jesus describes the kingdom of God in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. And I saw small efforts, small starts, leading to huge results.

Jesus gave these analogies for the kingdom of God:

Mark 4:31 – a tiny mustard seed becomes the largest tree.
Mark 4:26 – small seeds become a whole field of tall wheat.
Luke 13:21 – a tiny amount of leaven (yeast) causes dough to rise large.

Jesus said as the sower sows, the seed lands everywhere…on rocks, path, in weeds, on good soil. On some, it multiplies to a hundredfold.

Further, Jesus says of those who hear (of those who take his word to their heart), to them more will be given. He who is faithful in little, will be faithful in much.

I don’t know about you, but this frees me!! Jesus asks us to listen, to be faithful in small things.

Jesus said “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

We can ask God to help us be faithful with the small things, and have joy in doing those things. We can sow seeds of the gospel and watch Jesus create huge fields of harvest.

We do what Jesus puts in front of us. He’ll take care of the rest. He’ll accomplish more. Just as Jesus took the two fish and five loaves and multiplied it to thousands, to accomplish his purposes.

Listen to God’s direction in your life. Look for the 20% most strategic efforts to focus on. Be faithful in small things. And rejoice that God can cause great growth, a great harvest!!