Some of you may have heard of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, which states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  This rule, based on the findings of the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, has become a common rule of thumb in business, demonstrating, for example, that 80% of sales and complaints come from 20% of customers,  roughly 80% of the world’s wealth is controlled by 20% of its population,  80% of sales and human resource problems come from 20% of  employees, 80% of computer problems come from 20% of computer bugs, 80% of injuries come from 20% of hazards,  80% of health care costs come from 20% of patients, and 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals.  This amazing phenomenon has been used by personal growth scholars to project powerful strategies for human development.  If 80% of our problems come from 20% of our lives and 80% of our achievement and happiness comes from 20% of what we do, it stands to reason, Divine Reason, that we can transform our lives, our eternal salvation, and that of others by simply focusing on the 20% of what is most important in our lives and efforts 80% of the time and cutting out as much of the 80% of our lives that is getting us nowhere eternally.

Given all of the above, it occurred to me that, if this principle has been so successfully applied to business, one should be able to apply it to the most important business of all, which is our personal salvation and the salvation of those we cross paths with.

Thus, I propose that 80% of our sins come from 20% of our activities;  80% of our salvation possibilities come from 20% of our words and deeds; 80% of the good we do is only directed at 20% of the people we come in contact with; 80% of our worries are spent on only 20% of what is truly important; 80% of our time is spent on only 20% of what Christ has taught us;  80% of our prayer is directed at 20% of what we should be truly praying for.  I further suggest that 80% of what it takes to become a saint requires a change in 20% of our effort, but that that 80% of that very same effort is only 20% of our usual attention and care.  I could go on and on, and I invite you to send me your own elaborations of this 80-20 rule applied to the business of salvation, of following Christ, and of bringing Christ to this world on a daily basis.

My purpose behind all of this is to suggest that we apply Pareto to Paradise by following a few simple steps. First, we must identify and expand the mere 20% of our lives that is actually moving us closer to God. Second, we must identify and reduce the 80% of our lives that is actually moving us farther from God or causing us to simply spin our wheels on what is most important.  Third, we must identify and expand the 20% of our prayers that are properly and constructively applied toward connecting us with our Creator and identify and reduce the 80% of our prayers that are improperly and destructively applied toward favoring our wants and whims over God’s Divine Providence and love and service of others.  As St. Therese of Lisieux, “the little flower” of Jesus often observed, it is the little changes in our lives that often make the greatest impact on our holiness.

Ultimately, we must ask ourselves if we would call someone our friend if they supported, assisted, cared, and defended us 20% of the time. Despite our inconsistency, stubbornness, arrogance, disloyalty, and weakness, Christ continues to reach out to us, hoping that we will turn that 20% into our 80%.

Gabriel Garnica,  Copyright, 2013,   All rights reserved.


The Parable of The Vineyard Workers: Divine Mercy in Action

One of my favorite Scripture stories is the Parable of The Vineyard Workers ( Matthew 20:1-16) wherein a landowner pays the exact same pay to workers who work different amounts of the day, much to the subsequent anger of the original workers who worked an entire day for, as it turns out, the same pay as those who had only worked a few hours.  We can all relate to those workers who worked the full day.  Not fair!  Are you kidding me?  This is an outrage!  Imagine how you would feel if a co-worker who worked three hours was given the same pay as you were given for eight hours of work.

By human and earthly standards, this landowner is either crazy, sinister, drunk, viciously malicious or, at the very least, stupid. After all, why would any boss want to create a riot by being so blatantly unfair?  Truth be told, however, a simple and careful reading of the parable will demonstrate that the landowner was not, in fact, deceiving or playing with anyone.  He gave every single worker what he promised to give him. The landowner paid the full day workers exactly what he said he would pay them, and he paid the other workers what he felt was right.

Our human perception of unfairness in this story comes, not from the interaction between the landowner and the workers but, actually, from the comparison between the pay given the workers in relation to what they worked.  Steeped in our flimsy human arrogance and presumption, we assume that the pay here is proportional to the work because that is our earthly measure.  We arrogantly presume that this landowner must adhere to our perceptions of fairness and justice because, after all, aren’t those very same perceptions simply brimming with our wisdom and common sense?

Our arrogance allows, even demands, that we measure the landowner’s actions by our measures of justice, with no regard to the fact that, at the end of the day, as the landowner reminds all of the workers, it is his money to do as we wishes.

Enter Christ’s Divine Mercy as brought to us directly through St. Faustina and indirectly through the writings of other saints.  Try as we might, we simply cannot put our brain around the fact that, like that landowner, Almighty God is so generous as to offer us salvation, via an incredibly generous supply of mercy, regardless of how little we have paid our share of service and loyalty to His promises, if only we will do our best once afforded the chance and with what opportunities are presented to us.

We would be fools to presume that we come anywhere near deserving the generous payment of eternal salvation offered us by our Eternal Landowner, yet we are just as likely, and foolish, to both disbelieve the reliability of that Divine Generosity as well as dare to compare ourselves to others in its attainment.

When you come right down to it, most, if not all, of sin is about worrying more about ourselves and our relation to others than keeping our souls and being focused on God and the beautiful eternity He lovingly, generously, and mercifully offers us.

The next time you feel that God has been unfair, unjust, or ignored you, look to the great saints who lived to love and serve others, lived the idea that the last shall be first, and were too humbly content, and grateful, to be working in God’s vineyard to be worrying about who was getting how much mercy and reward for doing what.  Love and serve God by loving and serving others, put others ahead of yourself, and  faithfully believe that God will do right by you, and you will be cashing the greatest paycheck of all when all is said and done.

Copyright, 2013,  Gabriel Garnica  All rights reserved.