“The obsession with economic profit and technical efficiency puts the human rhythms of life at risk.”

– Pope Francis

Grocery shopping is by far my favorite pastime, provided I get to do it my way. Nothing brings me more joy than going early in the morning and by myself. My neighborhood Wegman’s, while not the cheapest, is always well-stocked. I have every turn, stop, and brand down to a science. Despite how empty the store is when I go, I don’t dawdle. No. A large part of my joy comes from my produce productivity. For the thirty-seven minutes it takes me to buy a week’s worth of groceries for six people, I am unincumbered by little feet and endless questions, and free from a perpetual stream of emails or zoom meetings. I even have the bagging down to a science, ensuring that the carloading and unloading will be the epitome of efficiency.

On the last trip to my little heaven on earth, I couldn’t believe how quickly I was moving. It was effortless. It was almost art! As I approached the shortest checkout line, I realized why it was the shortest – a new store associate was being trained. I was so pleased with myself that I wasn’t even annoyed. As the young woman finished with the prior customer, I approached, groceries already on the belt, and made my kind and usual offer, “I’ll help with bagging.” The more senior associate observing her progress translated as if I had spoken in Italian. “Now, when he says that” she explained, “it means he doesn’t want you involved because he wants to do it his way.” Had she not been so accurate, I might have been offended.

As I lifted my perfectly packed groceries into my car in the spot I always park, I couldn’t help but wonder where else my proclivity for persnickety processes may not be interpreted as “help” but as “hands off my stuff.” In life and leadership, where have I gotten things so “down pat” that it’s nearly impossible for others to touch? When I strive to make sure no one does it as well as I do, why would anyone even want to try? Am I moving so fast that I forget to pick up the most important item on my list – others? While being a good steward of one’s time is important, where is “efficiency” in the Lord’s model or call? In my journey as a disciple, am I focused on finding the quickest way to checkout or am I helping others with their bags?

As I unpacked my groceries, I decided there could be worse guilty pleasures than my grocery game as long as everything else isn’t always my way but His. I pray you find everything that’s on His list for you this week.

by Daniel Cellucci

May 06, 2024

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