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The Numbers Game

July 23, 2019

Have you ever felt completely bogged down by the numbers? Sometimes I feel like the conversation in my head goes something like this:  

At home: Did you get paid yet? Have we made our mortgage payment? Did we pay our rent this month? Have we paid for our insurance coverage? Did the doctor’s bills come in? Are we going to have enough money at the end of the month? I know I’m supposed to be saving—who has time for that?   

In business: What’s the profit margin on this project? Are we going to hit our quota for this month? Were we able to beat last year’s numbers? How many people do we need to cover this shift? What is our percentage of growth year over year? How much are we paying in labor? How can we increase the number of customers we’re serving?  

Pastors may think about: How many people are we hoping to attend our services this week? Do we have enough greeters at the door? How many bulletins should be printed? Do we have enough visitor’s cards? Three people on the worship team are sick this week; who will replace them? How are we going to find five more volunteers to serve in childcare?  

Society causes us to ask: How many likes did I get on my most recent Facebook post? Why did no one comment on that photo on Instagram? Why did that tweet get retweeted so many times? How come no one reacted to my Instagram story—does no one think my kid is cute?! How many connections do you have on LinkedIn?  

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. I do it all the time. That’s why I think this is a good time for a reminder from Albert Einstein. Remember, Einstein was one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. His job was numbers, and he was an expert in his field. But even this mathematician was wise enough to say: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.  

What a poignant reminder.  

It’s not that the numbers don’t matter—they do. But if you’re like me and sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the things we measure on a daily basis, maybe this message comes at the right time.  

Take a step back. Take a deep breath.   

You can keep counting—in fact, you should. Just remember, the most important things in life may not be measurable.

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