Greasy fingers

“Beware of the greasy finger effect,” my new supervisor warned me.

“What’s that?” I asked.

I was a brand-new engineer, I had just completed my studies and was now newly employed as an assistant engineer in an engineering consulting company. I would be working at a power station for 6 months as a system engineer to resolve a number of problems that the power station was experiencing. 

“Power stations are complex interconnected systems,” he responded to my enquiry, “The engineers who designed the power station designed it that way for a reason. So don’t just go and make modifications without first asking yourself why the systems have been put together the way that they have been. Else, you may find one modification ruining the system and necessitating another modification, which in turn might further ruin the system necessitating another modification and so on.” 


In other words, to improve the performance of a power station, a holistic approach was required and the engineer must consider the station as a whole when making design changes. Human beings are even more complex. We are made up of a range of differing facets, systems and parts and each one depends on the proper function of the others. In addition, each system also requires its own unique method of cultivation and maintenance. Therefore, we can say that a holistic approach is required in the care and the development of our body, mind and soul. 

The activities we perform while pursuing personal care and development are referred to as duties and responsibilities. For example, good spirituality depends on Bible study. On the other hand, effective Bible study is only possible when the body is healthy. And good health is directly related to exercise. Can you see the connection?

In other words, Christian education—which does not stop after school here on earth, but continues into eternity—requires a holistic approach to be effective. In the Bible we learn that Jesus increased, or developed, not just in one area, but “in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (King James Version, Luke 2:52). Jesus’ example shows us that holistic development is essential. 


A great danger to holistic development is the neglect of known duties and responsibilities. In fact, we belong to a vastly interconnected and complex system called “life” that was created by a super-intelligent God. Every fibre is dependent upon the well-being of the next fibre. This is why God cannot allow even one speck (that is, our planet) of disharmony, pain or suffering. It is a threat to the well-being of the entire universe. Indeed, all of creation has been groaning because of man’s disobedience (Romans 8:22). 

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Justice is indivisible; injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I would say that care and development are each indivisible and neglect in any area of your life is a threat to every other facet of your being and therefore, holistic development is a necessity. 

Sadly, in pursuit of personal goals, we are often guilty of neglecting such things as: Bible study, prayer, Christian standards, health, physical labour, church duties, sleep, recreation, or the development of our minds and intellects. The neglect of any one of these areas results in a reduction of effectiveness in every area. 

We read in Messages to Young People, “Some students put the whole being into their studies, and concentrate their minds upon the object of obtaining an education. They work the brain, but allow the physical powers to remain inactive. … And after having obtained their education, they are often invalids for life. They have neglected their health by remaining too much indoors, deprived of the pure air of heaven and of the God-given sunlight. … Health is a great treasure. It is the richest possession that mortals can have. Wealth, honor, or learning is dearly purchased if it be at the loss of the vigor of health. None of these attainments can secure happiness if health is wanting” (White, 240).

It seems that when these students enter the workforce they have not learned their lesson for we read in Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, “The brethren in the office feel that they cannot leave the work for a few days for a change, for recreation; but this is a mistake. They can and should do so. Even if there were not as much accomplished, it would be better to leave for a few days than to be prostrated by disease and be separated from the work for months, and perhaps never be able to engage in it again” (White, 519).


A turning point in my journey for holistic development was when God helped me to understand the importance of a daily schedule. Consider the following statement from Child Guidance: “As far as possible, it is well to consider what is to be accomplished through the day. Make a memorandum of the different duties that await your attention, and set apart a certain time for the doing of each duty. Let everything be done with thoroughness, neatness, and dispatch. … Give yourself a number of minutes to do the work, and do not stop to read papers and books that take your eye, but say to yourself, “No, I have just so many minutes in which to do my work, and I must accomplish my task in the given time” (White, 124).

Proper management of time allows us to be more thorough. If you do not assign time for each aspect of development the following may result: (1) a reduction of overall efficiency (2) worry for undone tasks and (3) imbalance in time distribution for various responsibilities. 

In my third year of undergraduate studies, I decided, based on what I had learned about holistic development, that I needed a daily schedule or timetable. Up until then, it seemed I was only “putting out fires.” In other words, I was doing assignments as I got them and I was neglecting some subjects and even areas of personal development. I decided that I was going to do school work for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week—that was it, no more.

I did the best that I could in those 10 hours, setting aside equal time for each class to revise lectures and to do homework assignments. After hours I concentrated on Bible study, exercise, spending time with the family and helping around the house. I did not do school work on Sundays, unless something came up that was absolutely necessary. Sundays were set aside for working in the garden at home.

This approach ensured that that I did not neglect any class or any other significant area of my life, whether health, family, or devotion to God. While doing Bible study, I did not have to worry about an assignment for my thermodynamics class because I knew that I would be working on it, say, Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. as per my schedule. In fact, I completed my studies within the minimum period of four years—a major accomplishment for any engineering student and I believe due in large part to following a schedule. Therefore, to this day, I still make use of a daily schedule. 

God has designed that we should love Him with our heart, soul and mind. Therefore, all of these areas are important for our development. To neglect one is to threaten every other. It is my prayer for you that you do not neglect any area of your development. May you increase in wisdom without neglecting your stature. May you increase in stature without neglecting favour with God and men.

Shanley Lutchman is a mechanical engineer from South Africa. He works as a consultant and entrepreneur in the energy sector. He has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with specialization in renewable energy technology. Shanley was baptized at the age of 12 and is a faithful member of his local church in Pretoria, South Africa.