While reading Malcolm Gladwell’s New York Times bestseller, The Tipping Point, I came across a line I found fascinating. It is a relatively simple premise; a theory in economics called the 80/20 Principle. The short version is, within any group, the key word being any, “80 percent of the work will be done by 20 percent of the participants.” Stop and take a moment to think about it. Gladwell writes:
“In most societies, 20 percent of criminals commit 80% of crimes. 20 percent of motorists cause 80% of all accidents. 20 percent of beer drinkers drink 80% of all beer.” He further states, “When it comes to epidemics, this disproportionality becomes even more extreme; a tiny percentage of people do the majority of the work.”
This simply means that if we are referring to HIV, STDs, the flu, or any other virus, the 20 percent rule is much lower; it’s closer to 6%. So, 6% of the group will infect 94 percent of the group if the virus is not isolated and/ or treated within a given time period.
After reading this, I began thinking of other areas where this principle could be seen. Currently in the United States there are approximately 300 million people. Approximately 45% of our population—135 million people, are Christian; this includes all denominations. Yet, Christians have enormous influence in the U.S. Our influence encourages or discourages other voters in selecting their regional and national leaders. In an effort to honor Puritan values on sobriety, regional “Blue Laws” are enforced on non-Christians weekly; and, whether we see its remnants or not, the Ten Commandments is still the basis for our judicial system.
So, this leads me to think about prayer. If the 80/20 principle works on a whole in economics and is essentially flawless when referring to an epidemic, why shouldn’t it work in God’s economy? Why shouldn’t it work for prayer in your church?
The original principle came directly from our Bible to begin with. Although God’s effecting percentage is much smaller and covers a much larger group. The Bible says:
“And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; and I will rid evil beast out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land…And 5 (5%) of you shall chase a hundred; and a hundred (1%) of you shall put ten thousand to flight; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” (Leviticus 26:6, 8)
So, here’s the question of the day. Is 20% of your church praying for the other 80% of your group? Who is praying for your family? Who covers your building? What about your block? Your city? Your state? Your country? This planet? Our universe?
In Matthew 9:36-38, Jesus, looking at the multitude remarked how large the harvest was, and how few laborers there were. If forty-five percent of those in our nation are confessed Christians, there should be no grumbling about the state of this world. In God’s economy where 2 or 3 gathered in His name can enact change, 135 million people can surely pray to change the heartfelt desperation of 6 to 7 billion lives. L.
Study Reference: Matthew 9:36-38
From: "The 80/20 Principle." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions For Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell