Goodhart’s Law

Goodhart’s law states: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

I heard a story of a municipality in India had a huge problem with rats. In order to get rid of them, the ruler decided to award persons with payment, according to the number of rats killed. He would accept the tails of the rats as proof in exchange for payment.

Time passed and the problem persisted, even though many people were awarded and he had accumulated many tails. The number of rats should have shrunken at least proportionally to the amount of tails.

He later witnessed a lot of rats without tails running around and found out that people were raising rats for their tails to take advantage of the opportunity and letting them go.

This reminds me of how excellence is measured in the church. A “good” Pastor is measured by how well he or she speaks and how many persons are baptized. Good pastors are retained and “bad” ones are fired. However this measure doesn’t sum up the entire role of Pastorhood. This measure over-promotes one aspect of a good Pastor and allows for an inaccurate measure of performance.”

The word Pastor is closely related to the word shepherd. It would follow that a good Pastor should be rated against the qualities he shares with the Good Shepherd. The Bible contrast the qualities of a shepherd and a hireling in John chapter 10.

When the wolf comes the hireling runs away , but the good shepherd cares for his sheep.

Another passage shows a man leaving his 99 sheep to go after the one which was lost. In Matthew chapter 18 it shows that the shepherd after searching and finding his lost lamb, celebrates finding the one lost

I believe that as the Bible shows us a good shepherd cares for the sheep, protects them from danger, and seeks out the ones that are lost.

We should measure a pastor by his nurturing and retention skills. Not all pastors are evangelists as 1 Cor 12 (:27-31)

The question is this: how do we measure this?

Reconciliation within the Church

As brothers and sisters in Christ, I agree, family issues should be settled at home and not out in the streets.

Imagine a court of law. There is a judge  and sometimes a jury.  (a lot of the below references are from the second edition of the Common Law Process of Torts published by Lexis Nexis). In a trial before both judge and jury, issues of law (issues concerning what the law permits or requires) are decided by a judge,  while issues of fact  (issues concerning what happened in the events on which the suit is based) are considered by the jury.

Most can agree that the judge should be impartial, having no stake in the outcome of the suit. If the judge has a personal stake, there is danger that the proceedings would be conducted in favor of one of the parties.  The judge should, therefore, disqualify him/herself. If this does not happen lawyers are entitled to move for disqualification. To do this the lawyer must make a compelling case that the judge has or appears to have a personal interest in the outcome.

Similar to the court of law, church issues may be handled by the board (jury?) under its responsibility for spiritual nurture, and its chairman (judge?) a pastor or if otherwise not able an elder. There is not much procedural detail on the matter. The manual does not explicitly allow for the disqualification of a chairman for reasons of “personal interest”.  There should be such a provision at least in the church operational procedures to promote  fairness or the appearance of it.

In a civil suit, each party (plaintiff and defendant) presents her case in a manner to impress judge and jury of the strength of her position.  Even in mediation both sides are heard. Apologies cannot be said before one know’s what he apologizing for. A matter should not be called for a vote  without the affected party answering for herself.

Furthermore, there should be standard procedures for reconciliation and mediation since it is a common issue for churches. The mediator should be unbiased and allow a chance for both sides to heard. After both sides are heard, the mediator should seek middle ground and suggest ways for both parties to commit to moving forward. The two parties agree to a plan and move forward.

What happens if there is still disagreement?

Matthew 18 :(15-18) requires that the offence be spoken between the affected parties alone. If this doesn’t work try again with a few more persons to be witnesses. If he still refuses to listen, tell it to the church. If still, then he will be as a heathen or a publican. Pretty clear.

What model do we use, however,  if church powers are abused?

maybe  Martin Luther’s experience may shed some light.


Christmas is Here: Should we Celebrate?

Imagine you are in a new marriage with a spouse who already has children and had been married before.  Your spouse tells you that there is a running tradition in the family in which there is  a large celebration in the middle of the Summer where family and friends and the entire neighbor hood comes together to celebrate your birthday! A little different, since your birthday is in February…but maybe it is more convenient for everyone else. Coming closer to the celebration you find out that the day they are celebrating is of the previous spouse – Who not only is still alive but will be attending!

Many Christians know that Christmas time is not the real birthday of Christ and that the celebration at such a time was reserved for the winter solstice feasts , such as Yule, Koleda, and Saturnalia festivals.

When Christianity became popular in Rome, in order to make it an acceptable religion of the state, they began to make compromises to please the worshipers of the former religion. Throughout the years statues of roman gods became statues of Peter and Paul simply by changing the names.  The same happened with the holidays.

Most people see nothing wrong with this since they themselves are not worshiping the pagan “dieties.” What would you think if you were being  “celebrated” on the birthday of your new spouse’s  ex?  What do think our jealous God feels in light that the ex is the enemy. But we continue for the sake of tradition even though we know better.

But what should we do?

I recommend stripping away the tradition and spending the free time getting closer with God.