Do you get hung up on numbers?

I know I do. I shouldn’t, really. But there are so many that make important bench marks.

The number of years on your latest birthdate, the number on the scale, the tape measure around your waist, the numbers that sit in your bank account, the numbers in your business’ bank account or lack thereof.

I was thinking about numbers as the talk centered around Steve Jobs’ death. He was 56, rich beyond rich and nothing could save him from cancer. With all of his accomplishments, it would seem as if he was always running a race against time. Had the man stopped being productive after 56 and lived, we would have know him as being a master creator.

It reminds me of a college professor who stated that had Wordsworth died at 36, it would not have mattered because his best works came before then. John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron all died young  after writing immortal poetry. Would it follow that had they lived longer, their work would have continued?

Numbers have gained importance lately as I added two new apps to my Droid phone. One is an app to remind me to drink water, eight glasses a day. I click on an empty glass and it fills, letting me know I have completed another glass for the day. That is working out nicely.

The other app I have added is called Noom. With this app I can record my food intake, monitor my workout and record my weight on a weekly basis.  While I am doing my workout (walking the dog for about a mile), I turn on the app and hit workout. Once it is started, I get reminders every minute at first. I can hear how far I have gone, what is the speed I am going, and how much time I have been at it.

I am wondering if I can change the voice to sound like Hugh Jackman. Can you imagine have Hugh Jackman encouraging you to keep going and that you have gone “.50 miles” or that you are at a pace of “3.4 miles per hour?” Oh, those numbers would be sweet to hear.

I have been doing these new apps because for the first time in a few years I have stayed below my ‘really bad weight’ number for months at a time. Not only that but my belly number has finally gotten below 42 inches. Suddenly, that number of 35 inches that should be the belly circumference is looking obtainable.   

While these numbers are good, there are others that are not so much. Our church is facing a decreasing attendance. But we are trying to gain strength once more. I once read in a magazine for youth leaders that numbers should not matter as long as you are reaching out to people and teaching them the word of God. The article stated that the number of attendees should not be the focus.

But the truth is, those numbers matter. We have kids in the program although there used to be more. We used to have more small group programs and more activity. But people have left the church, people have died or moved out of the area. Our church has slowed down and so have the numbers. These numbers shouldn’t matter but they do. I wonder what it will take to make the church relevant once more.

Another number I wonder about is the number of people arrested in the Occupy Wall Street. 700 people were arrested on October 1 when they blocked the vehicle section of the Brooklyn Bridge. These people weren’t throwing rocks or destroying cars. If you believe one poster in the comment section, the marchers were led to this section by police. When people saw what was happening, some of them moved to the pedestrian walk way.

Yet, as we know from Charles Ferguson, the maker of the Oscar award-winning movie Inside Job about the 2008 financial crisis, not a single executive has gone to jail over this colossal mess.

I understand people are frustrated at not having jobs, at not being able to have a job that is full-time work or in the field you studied long and hard to join. I understand how frustrated one can get when you hear reports of the latest golden parachute or the trillions of profits the oil companies are making. It all leads to one conclusion in my mind.

Trickle down economics does not work. Steve Jobs and his buddy started Apple in a family garage. Microsoft was started at the Gates’ home. Dell was started in a dorm room, just as Facebook and Google were. New things don’t happen because some rich guy decides to mess with something. New things happen because there is an idea, a spark of how something can make life better. It might be a dishwasher to prevent breakage of china or a series of lights to control traffic flow.

What a good idea can lead to is the creation of a company and a product, jobs and wages. And that leads to people being able to spend that money. I usually end my posts with a question in order to encourage discussion. I could ask you what you think of the “Occupy” movement or weight loss or church attendance or how to encourage job growth.

Or I could ask what is the most important number in your life right now?