The Lean Christian: Introduction

Introduction

I am the Lean Coordinator. Banisher of waste. The enemy of all things inefficient. My arsenal is a quiver, filled not with arrows, but Japanese buzz words. Kaizen, poka-yoke, muda. You may have no idea what I am talking about. You may really have no idea how this has anything to do with being a better Christian. If so, then you are on the same journey that I was not so long ago.

We are all looking for significance. We seek it in our devotionals, our spiritual retreats, through churches, in prayer. But more than anything else, we seek significance in our jobs. In what we do. It is the area of our lives where we spend most of our time, for the majority of people. This is how I found my significance. This is not a life-long significance. I am not saying I found what I am supposed to be doing for the rest of my life. What I am saying is that there is significance in what you are doing right now. No day is useless. Indeed, it can become that way. But you have control over that. Find ways that link what you are doing to what God wants you to do. Find ways to relate your experiences to biblical teaching. You may find that what you are doing will actually bring some of the biblical teachings to life for you, as I have.

I am seeking my significance still; I always will. That is how I became a Lean Coordinator. I went in for an interview with my church, desperate to find a career with meaning. I was told the position I was interviewing for would not be a great fit, but that it would be prayed about and that I should do the same. I did, and the pastor that interviewed me was right – this is not what God had in store for me.

At the time I was doing a job that did not allow for me to utilize my creativity, which is a God-gift of mine. When stifled, I become bored, and everything becomes mundane to the point that I shut down. That’s why I was in the interview at church. I felt a little disappointed when the position turned out not to be for me. I didn’t have to wait much longer for something that could give me some significance. Less than a month went by, and I was offered the position of Lean Coordinator at my company. This is something I thought would take me years to reach. God had come knocking. I didn’t know it at the time, but this path would strengthen my spiritual life in ways that I could never have foreseen.

What is it?

Alright, so what is a Lean Coordinator? Let’s start with lean. Lean is a different way of thinking in the business world. A systematic way of reducing waste while striving for continuous improvement is one definition. Doing more and more with less and less is another.  The goal is to strive for the removal of all wasteful activities in a process.

To understand what I mean, let’s look at an example. Picture an automobile assembly line, perhaps one like Henry Ford made famous. At each point on the assembly line the idea is for each worker to be doing something to add value to the car. Installing a safety mechanism, adding a gas petal, etc. These kinds of activities are called value-added activities, because they add something to the product that the customer would be willing to pay for. But think of all the things that happen at those work stations. You have people walking to get parts, fixing something that was done wrong the step before, and spending time setting up the machine for their job. None of these add value to the finished product. These are non-value added activities. A lean thinker is looking for ways to eliminate all such activities.

To remove all waste from a process is striving for perfection. Something that is unattainable, yet we still pursue it. Why? Because it makes you better. Starting to sound more Christian? Now, to get there, there are a variety of tools, methodologies, and yes, Japanese buzz words. I will walk you through each one and explain how you can apply it to your spiritual life and become a Lean Christian.

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