We, especially those of us in the good ol’ U S of A, love convenience. We’ve been raised believing that convenience is the sign of world domination. As long as we can get ours, fast (and at a reasonable cost), we’re leading the world. After all, it’s important that we get what we need, whether gas, breakfast-in-a-bag, or our drive-through venti iced soy mocha. That’s how I know we’re winning the war on terror.
Speaking of convenience and coffee, last night I ran a quick errand to our local Target, with the convenient Starbucks just inside the door. I needed some coffee beans, and rather than having to drive a couple of miles out of my way to go to my regular dealer, here was one right in front of me as I came through the check-out!
So, I drifted over to the bean display, and was glad to find the variety I was looking for. I took my selections to the girl at the counter, told her how I wanted them ground (ok, so I’m really lazy), and then I realized the true cost of convenience. These pocket-sized Starbucks, as convenient as they may be, are no substitue for a real, full-sized store. If anything, they are Starbucks “light.”
On one other occasion I had dared purchase a bag of beans at this particular store, and as is my usual habit, requested the beans be ground for a paper cone filter. I’ve done it for years. The girl replied, “what’s that?” I knew I was in for trouble, and I was right.
So, I should have known better, but again, this was convenient. Besides, I had carefully examined the machines at the other Starbucks, and now knew which setting I wanted the beans ground on. So, I walked up to the counter with self-assurance and made my request, only to discover that these mini-stores don’t have the same grinders! Ooops.
Convenience has its costs. You can’t always get what you want. There is no free lunch. And, you can’t get a properly ground bag of coffee at a mini-Starbucks. I think at some point the Starbucks Corp. will have to realize that these “express” are a corporate irresponsibility, and it will cost them… unless, they know the real truth: that their coffee contains a secret addictive ingredient, and they’re assured that you have to have their coffee, no matter how badly the beans are ground.
So, count the cost of convenience. I am, as I sit here typing, drinking my morning coffee made from poorly-ground Sumatra beans. But, I have to go now; my cup is empty.
“You dont’ always get what you want.
No, you don’t always get what you want.
But if you try some times, you just might find
you get what you need”
The opening paragraph is great!
Your humorous take on convenience has serious implications for how we do Christianity too. The church I attend has wanted their own building for some 15 years now. About 5 years ago, when they mistakenly thought they had found something, the pastor asked for feedback on purchasing. In my long letter of “feedback,” I questioned some of the assumptions we were making about the “need” for a building of our own:
“The first of these is that convenience is always better. The reason most often cited in my hearing for us to buy a building is that we wouldn’t have to work so hard to do church. We could leave things set up so nobody would have to come in early or pack up after meetings. We wouldn’t have to deal with someone else’s rules or scheduling quirks or those niggling annoyances (tear down noise, awkward classroom logistics, etc.). For the church people I’ve listened to, eliminating these hassles seems to be the main reason for buying a place. More effective ministry is an afterthought, if it is mentioned at all. Ease of use seems the big priority among the sheep in the pews.
“There’s nothing wrong with convenience (just try to take my coffee grinder from me); but convenience is a value in itself and its own reward. It neither instills nor enhances other values. Just because we wouldn’t have to work at setting up, does not mean we would redirect our saved energies elsewhere. In fact, based on my limited observations, eliminating hassles seems to be the primary benefit of building ownership, not an opportunity to serve “higher” Kingdom values. A place of our own might make church easier, but won’t necessarily motivate us toward our mission. And this convenience will come at a price that will be measured in more important things than dollars.”
I was read the riot-act for the letter. I had failed to realize, it seems, that convenience is more than convenient; it is a cardinal virtue.