Just-In-Time

by Jonathan Whitaker
in Blog

Sometimes you find truth in unexpected places. In 1950, American statistician and engineer Edwards Deming went to Japan.  He was a missionary of sorts, but his mission was for business, not God.  Deming is the father of a concept called Statistical Product Quality Administration (SPQA).  The philosophy was simple: businesses would improve and compete if they designed better products that didn’t break as often, had assembly lines that produced higher levels of uniformity in products, improved product research and testing, and sought foreign markets for sales.  All of these things seem obvious to us today, but they are only obvious to us because Edwards Deming made them obvious by his life’s work.                                Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

In 1950, nobody in American business would listen to Deming or heed his SPQA method.  Post-World War II Japan was another story.  The country bought into SPQA wholeheartedly, and Deming is largely credited as the catalyst for the economic miracle that catapulted Japan from a nation in ruins in 1950 to the world’s second-largest economy by 1960.  Though SPQA is not a biblical tenet, it gave rise to a business practice that I find to be quite evangelical: Just-In-Time manufacturing. 

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The notion of storing God’s word in your heart got me thinking about Just-In-Time manufacturing.  My graduate degree is in Procurement and Acquisitions Management, and supply chain management was a big portion of my study.  Supplies are basically anything you keep on hand before you need it.  To keep shipping costs low while minimizing real estate devoted to storing materials, a manufacturer must synchronize delivery of materials as close as possible to the moment they are needed to assemble a product.  For example, if you need five tons of ice cream per day at your ice cream sandwich factory, you lose money for every day that you have to refrigerate any excess ice cream not used to make a sandwich.  Get it?

Storing God’s word in your heart is a lot like running an ice cream sandwich factory.  Ostensibly, like the ice cream, you are storing God’s Word for a purpose.  Psalm 119:11 gives one such example: so that you won’t sin against God.  According to the Psalmist, having God’s word on hand, stored in your heart, produces the effect of not sinning.  I like that idea.  But I also realize that it is difficult to memorize and store a great deal of rote knowledge so that it can be effectively recalled when needed.  What if we used a Just-In-Time method to store our scripture?

Psalm 119:11 gives one reason to have scripture on hand, so we can avoid sin in our life.  The great commission gives us another (Matthew 28:16-20): to reach the world in salvation.  If we were to apply the concept of Just-In-Time to scripture storage, we would always have a fresh scripture on hand when we needed it in order to witness.  Just-In-Time scripture comes from daily study and renewing your mind in God’s Word.  Imagine the effect of having fresh scripture delivered to your heart every day.   Truly, you can only keep so much material in storage before you have to start using it or giving it away. 

Deming is known as the father of the quality manufacturing movement, but I assure you the quality of your walk with God can only improve the more you hone your scripture supply chain.