In my previous post, I wrote that the person in front of you is more important than the task in front of you.
No finer example of the task vs people tension can be found than the 1973 social experiment by John Darley and Daniel Batson. The researches took the plot of the Good Samaritan and ran a social experiment to see if a person who was in a hurry would take the time from their busy schedule to stop to help a stranger in desperate need.
The results literally shocked the Christian world. And it should have.
The researches hired an actor to pretend to be injured lying down on the path, blocking part of the route that the students would have to take to get to their class. What class were they headed to? These students were in a preaching class, and the professor had assigned the Good Samaritan passage to them (Luke 10:25-37). So, the student who had prepared a sermon on stopping to help a stranger in need would literally have to physically step over the actors writhing body in order to make it to their class on time – to preach on helping a stranger in need. They divided the students into three groups:
One group was told that their sermon would happen later that day so they had plenty of time to get there.
A second group was told that they'd make it in time, but only if they set off immediately.
But a third group was told that they were already late, they needed to Sprint over there right away.
Their results were really striking: Only 63% of the students in group one, who had time to spare, stopped to help the hurt stranger. So that means that even when the ministers in training had time to spare, 1/3 of them simply stepped over a stranger in need and went on to their class--- to preach about helping strangers in need? Wow!
But wait, it gets better (or worse!). What happened when subjects were in a hurry? Only 10% of students in the 3rd group stopped to help, which means 90% of the students completely ignored and obviously injured person on the street because they were rushing to give a sermon about how Jesus said you should stop to help injured people on the street. Now that’s ironic!
And, it emphasizes the truth that the person in front of you is more important than the task in front of you.
Let’s continue to remember that as Christmas approaches and our To Do list gets longer 😊