Avoiding the Law of Diminishing Returns

by Lee Buford on October 28, 2010

Much of what we experience seems to be defined by the law of diminishing returns. If you’re not familiar with the law, it most commonly relates to economics and production, referring to the scenario in which additional input delivers increasingly less output. In other words, the more you put in, the less you get back in return.

In my experience the law of diminishing returns is best demonstrated in my habit of over indulging in exceptionally good food. Krispy Kreme doughnuts immediately come to mind.


I’m sure you can relate. You know the instant craving and desire that strikes when you see them, the thought that nothing would taste better at that moment than a hot, glazed doughnut straight off the line.  So you decide to indulge your craving. And yes, to your ultimate satisfaction, the doughnut is incredible…exactly as you had imagined it would be. And here’s where the law of diminishing returns begins to rear its ugly head.

As good as the first one was, you must have another. The second will be even better. So will the third, and all of a sudden you begin to notice that now you don’t feel so well. The first one was just what you wanted, but as you continued to eat more in pursuit of that original sense of satisfaction, the opposite result was achieved. More and more of a really good thing became less and less satisfying. The law of diminishing returns won out again.

You could think of numerous situations or examples where a similar thing occurred. It’s more predominant than we realize. The good thing, however, is that the law of diminishing returns doesn’t apply to all good things in life. In fact, following Jesus is the greatest example of the opposing law to that of diminishing returns.

Nothing is quite so satisfying as a life yielded to the pursuit of following and serving our Lord and Savior. His grace and mercy extend far beyond the capacity of our minds to comprehend His goodness, yet we know it’s there. We know it’s true. We feel the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit at work in and around us. And the more we experience Him, the more we long for more of Him.

Only this time the law of diminishing returns is nowhere in play. The more we pursue, seek, and desire Him, the sweeter it is…the more satisfying our lives become. In this case more and more of a really good thing becomes more and more satisfying. He is our satisfaction, and a right relationship with Him yields the ultimate return. It yields a life lived with purpose, for His purposes. He designed it to be that way.

Who or what are you pursuing in your quest for satisfaction and purpose? Is your pursuit mired in the cycle of diminishing returns?


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