The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule

July 06, 2013
Written by Daniel Hazard

Donna Schaper

"The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few…"  - Luke 10:2

When we hear that the harvest is plenty and the workers are few, we can go "Duh," and say we are familiar with the 80/20 rule.  80% of the people in just about any system are AWOL while 20% of the people are carrying double and triple burdens. We can say "Duh," and continue to pragmatically, if cynically, assign the best jobs to the person who is already too busy to do them.

We could also say, Hmmm…what was Jesus trying to say here?  Why are there so few workers working on the harvest? Is it because no one has invited them?  Or because the talented hoard talent?  Or the super- usy hoard power?  What would unlock the door to more participation in communal life?

Leadership, the pundits say, is the art of maximizing people's gifts while minimizing their liabilities.  What if we had a goal of 30% as opposed to 20% participation and set out to invite people "in" instead of being cynically aware that they are "out?"

Very few people come to church or maturity or participation without being invited and then mentored  after they are invited.  Mentoring is the art of invitation – and the art of getting out of the way once a gift is invited.  Absent the 20% getting out of the 80%'s way, those in power will continue to be able to say that they just have too much work to do.


Help us understand what Jesus meant when he said that there was more work to be done than the harvest could bear.  Help us understand his desire for all to be in.  Amen.

About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her blog, Grace at Table, at

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