“After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned.”
~Titus 3:10-11 (NRSV)
We have all faced this problem: trying to influence certain people to accept truths that most people would accept easily, and finding deep, unyielding resistance.
Whenever we are in the position of needing to influence a critical mass it bodes us well to remember that 10% of the population are early-adopters and, equally, 10% of the population are never-adopters. We can literally waste a lot of time putting our efforts into this collective 20%.
Our efforts for influence pay off best when we focus on the critical mass lying within the remaining 80%. Whilst these may not convert easily, they will tend to see the sense in the removal of barriers to things 80% of the population desire improvements on.
Lessons For Discipleship And Evangelism
Surely this 80/20 rule—work diligently with the 80% and studiously avoid the 20%—is applicable to discipleship and evangelism. This was the Apostle Paul’s point. Why would Titus (or Timothy, or, for that matter, us) waste his time on those who intended him to chase his tail?
Important work is focused work. And when we focus on the target audience that is most likely to shift, and to benefit from our influence, we get the biggest bang for our God-willed buck.
Furthermore, we are encouraged by the results of our work for the Lord, and we will suffer less frustration, even within what can occasionally be a tiring and frustrating practice: the spiritual training of others.
When we discover strategies and actions for disabling the power of the stubborn minority, not wasting our time there, we feel more empowered.
Operating In A Time Where There Is No Time To Waste
This is our reality: none of us can really afford to waste our time. The time appointed for impacting lives for Christ is now. Tomorrow is too late to do what we can only do today.
Though we are forgiven for missing opportunities, and we always will, we are blessed for the opportunities we do now identify, tackle and bring home.
When we begin seeing each event intentionally, each event with a purpose, we maximise each event. As a result we waste less time on meaningless ventures. We know by now that people are central to ventures, both meaningful and meaningless.
When we are strategic about not wasting time and effort we are prepared to ignore certain targets: those who are already convinced and those who will never be convinced.
Those who remain to be convinced, but may also be influenced; these are our targets.
80% of the population will move with us when we prove the removal of barriers.
Our efforts for influence work best only on 80% of the population. Identifying the 20% that are a waste of our time is important in maximising our efforts. There is less frustration and more satisfaction in working with people who may possibly be committed to change.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.