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Metric Fixation

2 Peter 1:5-8 New International Version (NIV)

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I have been thinking a lot about numbers in recent days. In my full-time job I look at a lot of numbers. It seems schools are now measuring everything. We are to be data driven in all we do.

It is not just schools; everyone in the Western World seems to be obsessed with data.

Jerry Z. Muller, a professor at the Catholic University of America in DC, calls this new trend “metric fixation.”

He is not a fan of this use of data to drive all decision making.

He writes the following:

“More and more companies, government agencies, educational institutions, and philanthropic organizations are today in the grip of a new phenomenon. ‘Metric fixation.’ The key components of metric fixation are the belief that it is possible–and desirable–to replace professional judgment (acquired through personal experience and talent) with numerical indicators of comparative performance based upon standardized data (metrics); and that the best way to motivate people within these organizations is by attaching rewards and penalties to their measured performance…

Compelling people in an organization to focus their efforts on a narrow range of measurable features degrades the experience of work. Subject to performance metrics, people are forced to focus on limited goals, imposed by others who might not understand the work that they do.”

In this second letter Peter is writing to the church to teach them how to deal with false teachers and evildoers who have come into the church. I think Peter would include this metric fixation as a false teacher. Peter is pretty clear in what he sees as the driving focus of the church of Jesus Christ, and it is not something that can be measured on an excel spreadsheet.

Certainly, Peter understood the importance of numbers. At Pentecost thousands were converted but in talking to the church about growth, he doesn’t write one word about the number of converts each person or church needed to get. His concern about the church’s growth was not based on anything else you can weigh or measure with a ruler or assign a monetary value. Peter declares what we need to worry about growth involves something quite different.

The list he shares is goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. While we all know they exist and can tell when we improve at them, it is impossible to graph them in any real tangible way.

Robin Williams has a great scene in the movie Dead Poets’ Society which shows the problem with measuring the unmeasurable.

The problem of course is trying to only measure and count to prove faith totally missed the point. If I can measure and count it, it doesn’t require much faith.

On Sunday at the session meeting I challenged the session to change their point of view. I asked them to start telling folks that we are a growing church. At first, they looked at me funny, but I asked them if in the last six months they had grown in faith, in wisdom, in love for others and for God. Everyone indicated that they had. Thus, I believe we are growing. And in my understanding of scripture it seems this is the growth God sees as most important.

Yes, we all want increased numbers…but not of at the expense of authentic, true faithful growth of the heart and mind and soul for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

That kind of growth is what is important—because that kind of growth gives us the gifts we need to change lives. Peter says, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The other metrics might look good on a spreadsheet, but spreadsheets don’t change lives. Only the faithful people of God do that. Only you and I can do that! So I pray we will all keep growing as I believe we have been. I promise it will make a difference!

Have a great week.

Payer Concerns

Please pray for Anne and the heeling of her arm. Please continue to prayer for Louise Burton (Clay’s grandmother)

Please pray for Teri Hall who has been diagnosed with lymphoma.

Please pray for Heather Holloway, Glenda’s daughter, as she recovers from back surgery.

Please pray for Toni Autello who is recovering from a severe sinus and throat infection.

Please pray for Rob Lamborn as he heals from a melanoma tumor inside his eye.

Please pray for Sue Shuford, a family friend of Richard Carlton’s. She is facing major back surgery due to osteoporosis and RA damage to her T12. A date has not yet been scheduled for surgery.

From Friends Feeding Friends: Please pray for Charlotte Arnold who has a spot on her lung.

Please keep Suzy Smith in your prayers as she copes with cancer. (submitted by Jane Shelton)

Please keep Matt Degutes and his family in your prayers. He was a neighbor of Richard and Ray’s and his daughter and family live here. He had surgery recently and will be undergoing chemotherapy.

Please keep Phil Shelton and his family in your prayers as Phil recovers from a stroke.

Please pray for Richard’s brother, Michael Carlton, who recently had a kidney transplant.

Pray for Jessica Forester who is stationed near Dallas, TX.

Please pray for Steven and the Denson Family.

Please continue to pray for all those in our church family with special needs: Bob Lamborn, Zee Martin, Toni Autullo, Harold Wilson, Melissa, and Walter.

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