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Can everything that matters be measured? We talk about measuring the output and health of a community, competition between groups, growing a community without losing authenticity, and embracing "holy inefficiency".


Conversations may be edited for clarity. (edit)

00:00 Henry: Right, so in this episode, uh, I wanted to talk about organizational health. I know you just wrote a post about the health of an open source project and how we measure it, whether it’s by contributors or activity or output. Uh, it just got me thinking about how we measure that in a church, and what’s the relationship between church growth and health, like popularity of open source projects versus health or sustainability.

00:31 Nadia: It’s interesting, ‘cause I feel like I s- … even though I believe that we should be measuring projects, activity, an- and output over number of contributors, I still fum- … it’s just, like, an easier thing to visualize when you talk about, like, people coming to your project or leaving your project as a sign of health. And yeah, even as a … we’ve talked about this with church stuff, of, like, bringing people into your congregation and, like, who’s attending, how many people are there? So it’s just, like, such an easy visual to fall back on that, yeah, the stuff I was writing about was trying to make the case that number of contributors or number of attendees or whatever, like, doesn’t really matter. What matters more is, like, what are you actually producing and putting out.

01:07 Nadia: Which actually relates, I was just thinking, to that, what, Call to Commitment, about, like, they purposely kept a really small congregation because they were like, “Yeah, we don’t … it doesn’t matter h- … we don’t need to, like, inflate this with a bunch of fake numbers. Like, it’s really about, um …” But then I was thinking, yeah, for church stuff, like, how would you even measure … what would output even really be in a church if it’s not the number of people attending or listening?

01:29 Henry: Yeah. I- I think … Yeah, it’s in the … in that book. Um, well I guess they, they just cared a lot about the, um, I guess the individual people. Like, we, we … it’s all about, like, how well are they doing, like, mentally or spiritually, and so we don’t want like, I guess, shallowness or just, like, numbers like what you said. Even though it’s, like, an easy way to way … way to think about it, like, “Oh, as long as we have more people that means probably more people are tithing and that means that we’re gonna sustain this thing ‘cause if we don’t have money then it’s not gonna work anymore.”

02:07 Henry: Um, but I think for, I guess, output, um, yeah, I think it’s really hard to quantify, which is why I don’t know if we can use attendance, because, you know, people can go to church all- every week, that doesn’t mean they’re any closer to God or other people. Um, yeah.

02:28 Nadia: But what is a church’s output? Like, for an open source project it’s easier to make the argument and say, like, code is ultimately your output and that’s why you can measure it based on, like, PRs or commits or whatever, versus number of people contributing. But like, yeah, what’s the equivalent that a church is trying to put out if not trying to, like, I don’t know, touch people basically?

02:47 Henry: I mean, even with open source, like, just because we’re adding more code doesn’t mean, like … Well, I guess there’s, like, the mission of the project versus, like, is it still going? Like, we can make PRs all day that all they do is update dependencies and it looks like it’s really active (laughs), but, um, are people actually gonna benefit from it? Are, are … That’s more of like a measure of like how useful something is. Um, and maybe, I don’t know if those are conflated or it’s hard to know the difference sometimes, and at church it’s the same, where like you would think that if there are more people coming then maybe that means that more people can serve or more people can help the community that that church is a part of.

03:26 Henry: I think our output is, is hard, because yeah, i- it shouldn’t be about like, “Oh, you know, people attended this much, they gave this much money,” ‘cause then it becomes about like themselves I guess and it’s like how is it about like helping others or, of individually how are they growing in, in Christ? So that means that, um, that, how do we differentiate between knowing God, like an academic point of view versus like actually knowing him, like from a relational view?

03:59 Henry: And so the problem is you can’t real- … it’s hard to measure like basically it’s saying like how, how well is your relationship with your church or God or other people and tha- that’s hard to measure in any relationship, right?

04:11 Nadia: Yeah, I don’t know that there is like a, like a metric in that way. I was thinking like with open source projects there’s the talk about the - I talked about some of this in my post - of like the latest commit as being this really quick heuristic of like when’s the last time this thing was updated? And I’m trying to think of what would the equivalent be if someone like walked into a church they’d never been to before and, and like, “Oh, I know this is the place for me,” but it’s kind of an intangible thing, right? It’s like it just feels right or you like the vibe of it or whatever. Um, so yeah, that’s sounds … I don’t really know if there is like, if it’s the same.

04:44 Henry: Yeah, I guess it’s … I mean I, I think about it’s, it’s almost like you know doing an interview for someone, like getting a job or, uh, whether you should work at that company and it’s like all I did was look at their website and now I’m gonna figure out what I want to be there from that, same as like they, people decide whether to use a project based on like so many random things, right? Like how many stars they have or, or yeah, if the last commit was an hour ago versus like a month ago and in a church it’s like you just go in, then you see certain people or you heard something.

05:16 Henry: But I almost feel like you have to spend more time to know that, um, and to like kind of be there for the whole service if they’re talking about church and it’s weird because, um, (laughs) that reminds me that now there’s like this term that people use called church hopping, um, which is, I would say is a negative term of people not being willing to commit to something ‘cause they, it doesn’t fit them.

05:41 Nadia: Hmm.

05:42 Henry: And not that fit, trying to find a fit is bad or anything, but it’s like, it’s really easy for people to like, “I don’t think anywhere fits me, so I’m just gonna keep going place to place,” and you’re never like actually committed to a local body. It’s kinda just like, “I, I want to like keep getting from it,” versus like, You’re not … at that point you’re probably not even thinking about like, “How am I gonna give back?” It’s just like, “I wa- I need something that like makes me like feel good about myself,” kind of thing.

06:09 Nadia: Is that a new behavior, church hopping?

06:11 Henry: I, I think the term is pretty relatively recent. I’m not gonna say like, like last years or something. It’s been for a little while.

06:20 Nadia: Like is it like trending towards more people doing it and if so-

06:23 Henry: Especially if it’s like you’re moving to a new city, you’re trying to find the thi- but i- it’s more of a, it’s not like you should be diligent about finding a good church for you, maybe you go to one or two or three, whatever, but it’s more like if it becomes a behavior of like, oh, you’re actually like ev-, like this week, I’ll, hey, go here and then (laughs) this week I’ll go here, um, and you’re doing that for like a whole year or something.

06:44 Henry: Maybe that’s normal and I, I don’t think it that’s that’s healthy, right? ‘Cause that means that like everyone is kinda loosely connected and we’re trying to find like deeper connections, like with each other and i-, you know with the church or open source project, um, and I think the symptom is kind of this consumerist mentality, you know, like joining or club or you know buying something or going to the mall, those kind of ideas and like kind of that kind of almost got comp in, in the church where people are like, “Oh, I do these things in my rest my life like this, and so at church I’m gonna do the same thing.” Like go here and there.

07:24 Nadia: Yeah, I mean it feels like that’s a thing that people are experiencing beyond church or open source or whatever, just sort of how does, how does the world around you serve you versus how do you be a part of it or be an active participant in it? Um, yeah, I think it’s like a really hard question everyone is, is grappling right now. We were talking about this a little bit about like how to bring that feeling of like localization or local communities to an internet context where I think like, I don’t know, it feels like the early promise of the internet was that you’re connected to this like global community and it, u- borders are gonna break down and we’re just gonna be part of this one big happy family on the internet and there’s like peace on earth or whatever.

08:06 Nadia: And I feel like in reality we’re coming to this like hard realization that com-, like a more localized community is actually really, really important for people to feel grounded and some shape or form and you can’t just like scale this thing to like some massive global scale.

08:20 Nadia: Um, yeah. So I, I wonder like, I … it’s interesting that people are church hopping ‘cause I feel like church would be an example of something where people could feel a little bit more like localized. Um, it makes sense in like an open source context that I think be-

08:34 Henry: Hmm.

08:35 Nadia: … just because like you’re using so many more projects than you did before and there are so many more choices that like … and I feel like GitHub in particular has just made it so easy to hop around from like, one product to another that I, I think that’s like some of the conflict between like earlier open source and now is like … the, the earlier ones had like smaller groups of developers that were just like, you know, knew each other better and like had, yeah, just more like context for each other and now like you can just use things or hop in, say something and go onto the next project. But I don’t know if, if it’s realistic for open source at least to expect that people will like find a community to settle into, like that might just be the way it is.

09:18 Henry: Yeah, I guess that’s different. Like I wouldn’t expect someone to be committed to multiple churches, that seems kind of-

09:25 Nadia: Yeah.

09:25 Henry: … counterintuitive or just doesn’t make sense, but open source, yeah, I can see you being … like I’m a maintainer of multiple projects or you’re a contributor to multiple projects and then also those projects are like related to each other and not every project is like a huge thing that you have to spend all your time in, right?

09:41 Nadia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

09:41 Henry: Like you could have smaller, uh-

09:43 Nadia: And there’s like a meta-community maybe there, right? I mean-

09:45 Henry: Yeah.

09:45 Nadia: … you’re like part of like a JavaScript community within JavaScript.

09:48 Henry: Right.

09:48 Nadia: There’s like other like smaller subcultures. I was musing with someone about this with like, open source in general and sort of like why, why has, uh, like earlier open source kinda had this like coherent sense of what open source was and now there aren’t that many people thinking about like open source on like a meta level. Um, and you see this actually with like open source conferences, like conferences that are just about open source in general are kind of like declining in popularity because people are going to conferences that are about like a specific ecosystem or language or framework or whatever.

10:24 Nadia: Um, and so yeah, I feel like, like open source has become so popular now that it’s become just so much more nuanced that there isn’t like a giant open source community ‘cause it’s like well everything is open source but like now you ha-, I feel like with these like smaller things but then people kinda forget to like, there are some behaviors that are pervasive across open source, like around, I don’t know, yeah, community management or project management, things like that and like no one is really thinking about it because no one really affiliates with it, you have like open source in general anymore, even though that’s probably a good thing long-term.

10:59 Henry: Yeah, I think that’s really interesting, like when, when something kind of like, not splits up, but like it’s, it gets so big that there has, there is like subgroups or whatever and then they kind of focus on their own thing and they should because they have different, you know, goals or whatever, but then it’s like there are also people that want to like bring that back and that we can all learn from each other and so with church it’s the same, it’s like each, um, church is its own little, you know, community, like and it should be local, and I don’t think it makes sense to kind of have the same “message” to every church.

11:42 Henry: Like it is the same, we all have the same values or goals or whatever, but then the way you present that to people has to be local. And so I, I was reading this tweet, um, from James K. Smith and he was saying that, that when you … like say you have a pastor who’s preaching or whatever, he doesn’t give a generic message to the person. Basically ‘cause then I would assume that like you don’t even have to be there. You could do them like a livestream sermon online, anyone in the world can listen to you.

12:12 Henry: But it’s like that person should know all the people in their congregation, you know, what they’re dealing and all that stuff so that’s like who are these people, where are they at and then wha- like what time period is this in? And so tha- that’s like super high contextual, right? It’s like, all those things matter in what you’re trying to say to people versus just some generic like, saying … kind of like, I think he mentioned like it’s you don’t, we don’t wanna turn church into like this McDonald’s franchise kind of thing where like it’s all the … like anywhere you go it’s like the same thing. It’s like kind of, but then it a-, they all roots back to the same like overall goal, but then specifically it’s like that, it needs to, you know, cater to those people that are there.

12:57 Nadia: Hmm. It’s a hard balance.

13:00 Henry: Yeah.

13:00 Nadia: ‘Cause I think there’s, there are some … yeah, I don’t know, i- it’s like there are some benefits to feeling like you can be home wherever you are. Like there’s something I really like about having like internet friends (laughs) where like any city- I’ve been traveling a bunch this month and it’s like oh, any city I go to it’s just like, Yeah, I like know people there and I can always feel kind of that home, like my social group is bigger than just the physical city I live in.

13:21 Nadia: But at the same time, like I know that going back to San Francisco is like going home and that’s like a really nice thing. And yeah, I guess like with like … I don’t know, I wasn’t raised in a very like, um … well, I don’t know if that’s true. I guess it’s sort of baffled me a little bit with like Christianity, and like, uh, you can, you can identify as a Christian, but you also identify with like your denomination-

13:46 Henry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

13:46 Nadia: … and you also might identify with your church and so you do have these multiple layers of community where yeah, if I go to another … so like, I went to like Quaker high school and like I’ve gone to Quaker meeting in other cities, in other countries and it’s, it’s nice to do ‘cause they’re like, oh, I can like, you know, find a meeting for worship in some other country, but it’s like not the same at all.

14:06 Nadia: I think also maybe because people practice Quakerism just in like very different ways around the world, but it’s also like not your people and it’s like in particular, in Quakerism it’s like you, like meeting for worship, at least the way that I did it in Pennsylvania, you like sit in silence and you only stand when you’re moved to speak and there’s no like, there’s no pastor, there’s no like program or anything.

14:28 Nadia: It’s like everyone is basically like meditating in silence for an hour, and you just like stand, you reflect on something and then you like sit back down, and it makes it like a very intimate thing that you’re doing with like other people in your community ‘cause like if someone stands and speaks you’re like, “Oh, I know that person. I know why they’re thinking about the thing they’re thinking about,” but if you’re in like another country and some random person stands up and reflects on their week, you’re just kinda like, “I don’t really know.” I mean it’s nice to hear, but it’s like it’s just not the same.

14:53 Nadia: But at the same time I still feel an affiliation if I went to another country and I’m like, “Oh, you’re Quaker, like I know Quakers.” Um, yeah, I don’t know, it’s weir- I don’t know if like where you always draw that dividing line between, how do we share the same affiliation as like in one way, but in other ways I know that we’re not really the same community.

15:10 Henry: Yeah. No I, those are good points. I, I think that’s the benefit of a denomination or something like that structure, you know, maybe there’s a network of churches or denominations that you’re part of and if you’re in that and you are, when you, yeah, when you do travel you can like kind of vaguely know that they either believe the same things or do service in the same way and that’s that’s good.

15:34 Henry: I guess it’s just saying that like it shouldn’t literally be the same everywhere.

15:40 Nadia: Yeah, it’s not-

15:41 Henry: And kinda like what you said, like you, how people like that you actually know versus just like some, you know, random anonymous person.

15:51 Nadia: Yeah, it’s not, it’s not like literally (laughs) the same friends or something in every city, but it’s its own flavor wherever you go. I feel like it’s such a hard balance to achieve ‘cause there is some values to like a universality of experience, but you don’t want it to be so universal that it doesn’t even feel special.

16:06 Henry: Yeah, and I think that’s, um, I think the word we use is ecumenical. Or any … there’s also like-

16:13 Nadia: What does that mean?

16:14 Henry: … Catholic, um, and so there’s differentiating between like capital C Catholic versus Catholic Church versus catholic, which is more like universal and so same thing, it’s a, it’s just the idea that, you know, we should, um, even if we have different maybe secondary values that we all kind of agree on the core things we should work together kind of thing.

16:35 Henry: And that’s important because otherwise you’re kind of just isolated in your own thing … or yeah, there’s always gonna be a conflict because it’s like some people are gonna be like, “Well, they believe this thing and, I, we don’t and so should we even engage?” There’s always gonna be that issue. Some people are more willing to engage.

16:53 Nadia: We were talking about this in relation to evangelism, right, with like feeling it’s … I mean you can make the same argument that like in some ways all developers have some shared sense of identity because you’re all software developers, right, at like the highest level or something, but then there’s always these like weird turf wars about people and like the best tool to use, the best language, or whatever and, and then they like can really like put down other people’s choices and opinions (laughs) because they, they’re just, they feel so strongly about whatever tool they use and that’s kind of weird because it’s like why would you not … I don’t know. You’re all kinda, we’re all kinda the same here, but then also not …

17:37 Henry: Yeah, I … it is really interesting ‘cause, yeah, whether it’s programming language or like all those tab spaces, all that stuff, it’s like I don’t know why we end up … I don’t know, it’s like the more you … it’s almost like the more you go specific or local, there’s also the same opportunity for you to kind of like start pushing people away, but then it’s good to know what you like and it’s good to know what you believe in as well. And so there’s that balance of you shouldn’t let your like, I guess, I don’t know, appreciation for what you actually believe take over your level of, I don’t know, grace that you should show people in, when you’re engaging and talking with people. Like I, that shouldn’t go beyond that.

18:23 Nadia: Yep. we can like agree to, agree to disagree

18:26 Henry: Agree to disagree, yeah.

18:28 Nadia: Yeah. I wonder if it’s sort of like the uncanny valley thing of like, yeah, when theoretically two developers will do like really, really similar stuff they’re gonna argue more violently about the diff- the very small differences than people from like two totally different like, I don’t know, there’s more like in-fighting between like Christian denominations than there would be between-

18:50 Henry: Non-Christian.

18:50 Nadia: … Christian and like … yeah-

18:51 Henry: Yeah.

18:51 Nadia: … someone totally different kind of thing.

18:52 Henry: Yeah, actually that’s really interesting. It’s like, we talk about, um, this is kind of church health that goes into like spiritual health or like, uh, spiritual formation, so like how you develop into being a Christian or a disciple of Christ.

19:10 Henry: And so the problem there is the same thing, it’s a meta-, it’s a, a question of measuring and so people want to do like, “Oh, I, you know, I go to church more than you,” or like they start comparing or like, “I’m serving more,” like all those things and or, “I know more about Christianity,” and it’s like, “Oh, I’ve been a Christian for X years,” so it’s about like experience.

19:31 Henry: But actually that’s not true at all because like you could even be a pastor and, and in some ways you don’t know Christ as much as other people, ‘cause you haven’t experienced it. And so I gu- I guess I was trying to say that before, but it’s like, uh, experiencing God is different from like reading about God or, or like spending er, all your time doing it. It’s like it’s weird. It’s like really hard to, to, just think about, um, when it’s like something you have to live out.

20:02 Henry: In the, even in the Bible like we talk about the Pharisees, which are the people that, um, they know a lot about the Bible, they know a lot about laws, but the problem with them was that they ended up caring so much about laws that they would, all they would do is call out people that they didn’t follow the rule, that kind of thing.

20:20 Henry: This is obviously true in anything s- even now and for us it’s like how do we learn to kind of show that, you know, we’re just like everyone else too. So when you end up knowing more than someone you’re not gonna like look on like down on people for not knowing it, but you’re gonna help them get to where they are versus like only, you know, say negative things about what people are dealing with.

20:44 Nadia: It kinda goes back to this idea of like being an eternal student or, I don’t know, committing yourself to the process versus being like, “I figured it out and now I’m gonna go like tell everyone else what I think,” um, which is just a good practice for humans in general (laughs).

21:01 Henry: Yeah, practicing humility and-

21:03 Nadia: Yeah.

21:03 Henry: I think like especially for spirituality it’s like the whole point of like being Christian is to say that it wasn’t you and so it’s funny because the more you learn there’s that kind of, not risk, but like there’s a chance that if you don’t actually understand that well, then you’re gonna look back and be like, “Oh, I learned all this. I’m so good,” like all of those things and it’ll come out in those ways, you know, even through Evangelism or whatever and like when you do meet an Evangelist and two people are talking about it and then people are like, “Oh, all you’re doing is telling me that I’m bad and that you’re good,” and that’s to the point, but it’s, it can be hard for people to like know that and understand that.

21:47 Nadia: I really like what you had said to me about like that you have like that you don’t need to like actively convince somebody, you should just like be the model person that you’re aspiring to, er, whatever, just like live it out through the things that you’re doing versus like telling someone that they should be doing something that way. That’s just like so much more effective I think when you’re showing versus telling, um …

22:14 Henry: Yeah, I, I, I guess I wouldn’t say that telling is necessarily wrong ‘cause maybe, you know, that’s what that person needs, but I think that’s where we would use the word discernment. You have to know like that person and in order to know that person you should probably like actually know that person (laughs) like through relationship versus like kind of … you know, there’s like street Evangelism and all that stuff, like they all know who you are, they’re probably never gonna see you ever again.

22:38 Henry: And, you know, maybe that, that is okay for those people, but for me personally, I would rather like I guess develop a relationship with someone over time and I mean it’s, it’s gonna be way harder ‘cause you’re like basically saying that for the foreseeable future you’re gonna be like engaging with someone, just knowing them and just helping them or whatever that it is, um, for your whole life I guess, and, and that’s gonna be like … that’s just something you have to commit to. But yeah, you’re right, it’s gonna be way more effective because it shows that you actually care about them versus just kind of like just saying words.

23:13 Nadia: I think it also, um, lowers these barriers around in-group, out-group thinking because if you’re telling someone that means you’re, you’re also sort of acknowledging that they’re not, they’re not the same as you. Like that’s why I need to tell you why like my way is so much better, but if it’s more about developing a relationship or just sort of like living your values and your principles then it’s, there’s some underlying subtle there I think that suggests like we’re all kind of the same and like I’m not, I’m not any better than you, I’m not doing anything really, anything differently.

23:44 Nadia: But, um, yeah, just some area of develop Quakerism ‘cause it, it was always about like … I don’t know, there was just never any like hard lines between like who is or isn’t, it was more about if everyone has like God within them then everyone has … we’re all … Yeah, we’re all just like … it just played on these like, the, I think the values and Quakers were just like very egalitarian for that reason. And I, that’s what I like also about just the idea of like being in an, an eternal student and never really like thinking of yourself as having mastered anything.

24:17 Henry: Yeah. I mean I guess even with the thing about studying Christianity, you know, we have, we even have colleges for studying God, like there’s seminary and all those things and I think it, it is a lifelong pursuit and even like being okay with like reading the same thing over and over because you’re gonna gain new s- insight from the same thing or talking about the same things over and over ‘cause those pro-, a lot of those problems might not go away.

24:45 Henry: And I think one of the, I think you mentioned this ol- in previous conversations about how like there’s a certain mystery to it and even though in our age it’s all about like knowledge and science and like kind of instant wanting to know the answer, there’s, I think there’s something special or interesting about not knowing and maybe never really understanding completely, but knowing it like truly and that we can know but we, we might not know exhaustively. I think that’s really good.

25:19 Nadia: That’s the value of documenting everything you’re learning, in, in public to me also ‘cause it, I don’t know, it just seems like it almost makes it necessary to be like, if the whole point is the process and everything is a lifelong process, then it’s really important that I’m documenting that process in a way that other people can learn from wherever they’re at because I’m never gonna just be done and then publish a thing where I’m like, “Look, I figured it out (laughs) here it is.”

25:45 Nadia: I really struggle with that if like just all the like open source research that I’m doing now ‘cause I think when I came in I was really, I just felt like, “All right the problem is really obvious,” which means like we should have just like figured out an answer, but, um, the more I dig into it the more I’m like, “Oh,” I’m like, “that’s just like really, really complicated,” and in general I think with research not just mine, but just in, in general it’s like you’re kinda exploring these questions that you just don’t really have answers to and you’re just gonna have to keep like probing at.

26:16 Nadia: But so if you’re never gonna ar- arrive at the answer, then it’s all you can really do to show progress or to show that you are actively thinking about things is to like record it, but that’s also something I think I’ve lifted from open source and just like the importance of like you don’t have to like make a thing, you don’t have to make like the best tool ever and then like put it out there and just like along the way, just like put yourself out there and publish it.

26:41 Henry: Yeah, I think that goes back to what we said about how with software in general or open source it’s never done and, and I think people forget that the maintainers are just people that are trying to improve on something, versus like having a finished product and same thing with your faith as well, it’s, it is never gonna be done, and we should look to that as a source of, I guess inspiration and versus like a sense of dread.

27:10 Henry: It kinda reminds me of, uh, I, I heard this sermon in our church like two weeks ago, the title was actually Holy Inefficiency, which is a really interesting title-

27:19 Nadia: Hmm.

27:19 Henry: … but it was just talking about in our current age it’s all about like information and, you know notifications and overload of too much information, not too less and so there’s a rush to like kind of know everything and we kind of lost a sense of, you know, what does it mean to like rest and to take breaks, to just enjoy being alive and learning things? In the process of like all this, you know, efficiency and doing things it’s just like in with the algorithmic way, it’s like, it almost feels like non-human, like we’re trying to into robots.

27:59 Henry: And so he used this analogy, which is really funny ‘cause it works for people that are our generation (laughs). Um, he, he mentioned Pokémon. So he said he grew up playing Pokémon and in the game, uh, you start off by walking everywhere and the first time you encounter Pokémon you’re like, “Wow, there’s a Pidgey,” or whatever it is and you catch it or something and everything, everything that you do in the beginning is like very like, I don’t know, like awe inspiring or just like cool.

28:27 Henry: But then eventually you get like a bike and after you do that you’ll never go back to walking ever again because you know that, “I want to get to the end,” it gets, it turns into like wanting to complete the game versus just like kind of having fun during the game.

28:41 Nadia: Hmm.

28:41 Henry: Like every time you exit a like a house you- you’ll turn on the bike button or whatever, you zoom off to wherever you’re going and then even funnier is later you, you get, you learn the fly ability and so now you don’t have to bike anywhere, you’ll just fly directly to the place that you’re trying to go to.

28:58 Henry: And it reminds me of every, all the new video games where there’s like a fast travel mode where you can kinda like teleport wherever you want and then, um, yeah, the game is literally is just grinding through the game. And same with life, it’s like all we’re doing is just like trying to get to this end and at the end of it like you don’t feel, you feel really empty actually. You se- you lost the sense of like the enjoyment and wonder of doing something that you enjoy and same with open source. So maybe it’s all about like how many downloads you have and how many PRs like whatever and how many contributors and at the end you’re like, “I don’t even know if I want to do this anymore.”

29:37 Nadia: That’s deep (laughs).

29:40 Henry: Yeah, it’s too real, that’s why (laughs)-

29:41 Nadia: Too real, too real. The Pokémon in particular. Um, is the term holy inefficiency the idea that it’s almost like a holy day of rest or, or intentionality about being inefficient, is that the idea?

29:54 Henry: I think there are multiple parts to it. So he used this passage, um, where it’s talking about Mary and Martha, and so one of them was kind of washing the dishes basically you could say and the other one was kind of washing Jesus’s feet and so she was like, “Hey, why don’t you help me in the kitchen ‘cause we have to like get stuff done?” And the other person is just like being with Jesus, like in relationship.

30:18 Henry: And so his point was that, you know you can spend your whole life, you know, in terms … this is spirituality, like in terms of like you can go to a seminary and study about God, you can read about God, you can read, you can listen to podcasts about God, um, you can talk about it, like all these things and yet in the end do yo- … like you might not actually know him at all because you turned it into like this kind of like game where there’s a number attached to it versus like what washing someone’s feet, that’s a very like different thing from accomplishing all these things.

30:53 Henry: And so it’s like how do we remember what it means to like know someone? And to know them … Well, we would use the word intimacy, right? And so that’s something that, um, that we should be doing. And so I think his point with the inefficiency part is that to, to be in a relationship is actually to be inefficient.

31:14 Henry: You actually, you don’t want to like meet someone and then only talk to them for five minutes because you’re like, “Oh, I need to like go on with the rest of my day,” or whatever, but it’s like if you like them and you want to know them more, so if it’s God or another person then you’re gonna wanna be inefficient, right, “inefficient.” You wanna stay there as long as possible, you wanna just talk about whatever, maybe you just be like what you said, in silence, you’re just like there, uh, waiting.

31:39 Henry: I think one of the most important things that we can do as a Christian is to wait, um, which is … I think it’s really interesting because that is the opposite of what we would want to do as people, and, or i- if you don’t know God, same thing. It’s like we, we have this urge to wanna like do something ‘cause like we feel guilty or you feel like, “If I don’t do anything nothing is gonna happen,” but that, it, your implying that God can’t move, that he can’t work in your life.

32:11 Henry: And so we’re called to be people that wait on a king, um, which is like very, I don’t know, like weird metaphors to talk about, but, like you know, I, it’s, by the phrase that we would use is “awaiting the king,” yeah.

32:34 Nadia: Hmm. I like that. I definitely noticed that with, uh, just relationship building and with work stuff where like a- and I think maybe this is just to some extent like a natural trajectory as you start to get to know more people and just feel more comfortable with the people you do and don’t want to talk to, but like if you just have a day filled with like one hour meetings with a zillion people, like it’s actually like pretty exhausting (laughs) in the end and you could say like by this one measure is to, you know, meet as many people as possible and like you have all these meetings, but like it doesn’t actually feel that good in the end and you don’t feel like deep lasting relationships.

33:10 Nadia: And so now I try to be just a lot more unstructured about, um, it means like saying “no” to more people, which is like I guess a tradeoff, but then also like if there is someone that I’m really looking forward to getting to know or talking to, like not having it feel like this has to be a one hour thing and like at the end of this coffee, like I need to go off and go to my other one hour thing, but instead just like have it be a little bit more open, a little more unstructured.

33:35 Nadia: And yeah, I feel like you end up … when you’re not thinking about it as like, “Oh it’s, you know, 11:59 and I need to go,” (laughs), um, yo- like all the like interesting like chatter like comes about more naturally when you’re, you’re willing to just like give it up at like … yeah. I mean if you asked me that like a few years ago it would have been like, “Ugh, I can’t, I don’t have time to spend like two-and-a-half hours talking to someone (laughs), like I need to go do other things,” but, uh, yeah trying to … and I still am, you know, I still struggle with this a lot, but, um, just trying to be more comfortable with the idea that just don’t look at the clock and just enjoy the person that you’re spending time with, but it’s harder.

34:13 Nadia: I was thinking about that and I was thinking about, um, a friend of mine described a friend of his, I don’t think it was description, but he has a friend who’s known for being, as he put it, uh, very good at resting-

34:23 Henry: Hmm.

34:24 Nadia: … and it’s like such a weird way to describe someone, that like he’s good at resting, not, not in terms of like meditating or like doing some active thing, but just like literally just sitting there with like his eyes closed and like not doing anything, which is like a funny thing for me to imagine, but I’ve been trying to like think about it and like the stuff I, I do day-to-day now too, where like sometimes like I’ll have a good like couple hours where I’m getting stuff done and I can kinda wrap up my big thing and then, and then, you know, I kinda like to take a little break before I do something else and normally I think I would just like go on Twitter or something or check my email or something, but now I’m just like, “I want to be good at resting too,” and I’m just like sitting there (laughs) and just like being in the moment. It actually it’s like really, really nice …

35:07 Nadia: Yeah, I don’t know it’s like, it’s like we also have to find a reason, like something you have to be doing while you’re waiting or something. It’s like you have an active resting activity, but like to just actually just like sit there and like stare out the window for a little bit is like really, really nice.

35:23 Henry: Yeah, that’s really cool. Um, yeah, I think it’s like we want to learn to push back on this sense of like hustling and like, especially in like a city like New York-

35:35 Nadia: Yeah.

35:35 Henry: … or San Francisco, like having to always do things or but in the startup culture it’s all about like, you know, you know, feuding and doing all this stuff and open source it might not be like that, um, from other people but internally it might be like, “Oh, I need to keep moving forward.”

35:53 Henry: I remember like when I was doing it, not at [inaudible 00:35:57] I was doing it outside of work, for some reason I always felt like it was like another job to me where I was like I needed, I have a certain expectation for how this should move forward. Even though I obviously on- knew that I didn’t have a lot of time. I don’t know why I just felt like I assumed I had like eight hours a day to do it, uh, and that we’re not getting there so I always had to push myself. So it’s like, it’s not bad to like wanna move forward and you know professionism and all that stuff can be helpful, but when it turns into just like, I don’t know, just restlessness, I think that is, that can be really detrimental and that’s why we have burnout and all that.

36:39 Henry: I think what you said, learning to not do anything is good and it really is a skill, especially in our day where, you know, if you’re in line for something or you’re on subway, whatever, you always have to like do something, learn something, get better at something, but maybe we should get better at not doing anything.

36:57 Henry: That is something to value, almost. And I think that sho- is expressed well in faith, at least in Christianity where like literally God, like when we s- read about like the creation story and the seventh day he like rested and if we believe that God is like a powerful God that can do whatever, he’s still decided to rest, so it doesn’t mean that he was like tired. He actually rested ‘cause he enjoyed it. He wanted to enjoy what he made. There’s a sense of like pride that he had in that, and so we ha-, we can do that too. We should have a sense of enjoyment in the thing that we’ve done over in the past week, where yeah, you shouldn’t have to work.

37:34 Nadia: Thanks for listening. If you’d like to continue the conversation, you can find us on Twitter at @left_pad or @nayafia or on our website hopeinsource.com.


Hosted by Nadia Eghbal and Henry Zhu.
Edited by Henry Zhu.
Cover art by Jessica Han.
Music by Ken Wheeler.

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