By: Pastor Mary Beth Hartenstein

As we are on the verge of the opening day of yet another Hog Wild Days Event, I have been thinking about the 80/20 rule, otherwise known as Pareto Principle or the Rule of the Vital Few.  Most, if not all of you reading this posting, are familiar with this principle.  Named after an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, this principle evolved as he observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  He even went on to observe that 80% of the pea pods, in his garden, came from 20% of the plants.

As the leadership team scrambles to make sure that there is enough coverage to support the needs of our food tent, as the 50th Anniversary Celebration Team works to get our float ready for the parade on Saturday, as the Women’s Fellowship group works to make and bake enough pies to serve our guests over the next four days, it does not take long to recognize that the Pareto Principle is evident in the happenings around our participation in Hog Wild Days.

It is easy to grumble about this principle:

“It is always the same people doing all the work.”

“It is time for the younger people to step up and do their part.”

“I work full time.  Everything is scheduled when I cannot help.”

“Our schedules are already full with our children’s activities.”

“I have done my part.”

This list of grumblings could go on and on.

The fact is that the Pareto Principle may have been named in the early 1900’s, but my guess is that it has been practiced for as long as we humans have been around.  In my own imagination, the early cave dwellers probably complained about the same things as we do today as they gathered food and went out to hunt for meat.

Whether working with the track team, the cheerleading squad, and the baseball team; the Lions Club, the Kiwanis, and the Parent-Teacher Organization; the local realtor company, the national engineering firm and world-wide cereal producer; and here at Hope United Church of Christ, it is the same everywhere.

So what does that mean for us today?  I actually wish I had a good answer so that I could write a book because every organization would want a copy as this phenomenon is not going to change any time soon.

I cannot change anyone but myself.  Therefore, perhaps I can change my own attitude and focus on what is happening rather than what is not happening.  Perhaps I can offer to help in ways that I had not thought of rather than focusing on ways others are not helping.  Perhaps I am able to be more bold and courageous by inviting others to come and join me when I am working or participating in something.  Perhaps I can begin to imagine something that we can do that would break the mold of this Pareto Principle so that others would want to come and be a part of the event, the program, the mission or the ministry.

The only way to break the effects of the Pareto Principle is by each person making a commitment to step forward and pledging to be an active participant of this community of faith that we profess to belong to as followers of Jesus.  May we each prayerfully consider making such a commitment and bring an end to the Pareto Principle at Hope United Church of Christ.