I had intended to go. It’s on my calendar to go. But last night, as my husband and I were figuring out plans for the weekend, I realized that he has a music rehearsal in the morning, so I’m the driver on tap for carpooling to skating practice.
I won’t be cleaning the church tomorrow, but I can probably tell you exactly who will be — which ward members have thoughtfully prearranged their schedules so they’re not caught unaware like I was.
I can tell you this because it’s usually the exact same people, faithful stalwarts all. They are among the best people I know. They’re the first to arrive at any ward potluck to set up the chairs, and the last to leave after they put those chairs away.
They’re the ones who drive the youth on temple trips to Louisville, who complete their home and visiting teaching with gold stars, and who always hold Family Home Evening.This is Mormonism’s Pareto Principle: 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work.
Originally, the Pareto Principle was about economics. If you’ve ever heard the statistic that 80 percent of the world’s wealth is held by 20 percent of the world’s population, well, the germ of that idea originated with Pareto.
Over the years people have applied it in all sorts of ways – 80 percent of your business and profits come from 20 percent of your customers; 80 percent of the customer complaints about Microsoft Word come from 20 percent of the bugs (so why don’t they fix them already?).
But I am claiming a Mormon corollary for Pareto’s Principle because of my observation that in every ward I’ve ever been in, a predictable fraction of the members does the bulk of the heavy lifting.
The Pareto Mormons helped us clean out my mother’s house after her death and brought my part-member family dinner every night when my husband was in the hospital.
And on the rare occasions when they’re not in sacrament meeting, you know it right away, because they sit in the same pew week after week, as stalwarts do.Today I’d like to raise my non-alcoholic drink to Mormonism’s Pareto People, who are the salt of the earth.
Without their love and commitment the rest of us would be:
- Worshiping in Cheerio-encrusted chapels
- Bereft of casseroles and greeting cards when we are sick
- Eating hastily purchased KFC and store-bought cupcakes at ward potlucks, since no one took the time to cook
- Hauling our own freakin’ furniture every time we move to a new house
- Listening to a teacher just read the boring manual out loud, since no one prepared an actual lesson
- Walking to the temple a hundred miles away
So here’s my message to the stalwart 20 percent: I’m 100 percent grateful for you.