Points to Ponder – The IKEA Effect

Pastor Darin Phillips, Oceanview Community Church, Ladysmith, BC

Have you ever purchased a table or chairs or shelves from IKEA?

You grab your Phillips screwdriver, the Alan key and those funny little instruction diagrams and you dive into the assembly. Even though you didn’t do the measuring, cut the wood or have any hand in its design, you still feel a sense of accomplishment when you put it together. You know I’m right. Admit it.

Most of us intuitively believe that the things we labour at are the things we love. Michael Norton at the Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely at Duke University have turned that concept on its head. What if, they asked, it isn’t love that leads to labour, but labour that leads to love?

In a series of experiments, they have demonstrated that people attach greater value to things they built than if the very same product was built by someone else. And in new experiments published recently, they’ve discovered why it happens: Building your own stuff boosts your feelings of pride and competence and also signals to others that you are competent.

“Get involved and do it yourself” also applies to our spiritual life.

As a Christian Pastor, I see the people that put the effort into reading their Bible, spending time in prayer and serving alongside other followers of Jesus — those are the ones who get the most joy out of it.

The great message of the Christian faith is that we don’t have to do it all ourselves, but it also doesn’t mean we do nothing. The Apostle Paul describes how the partnership works: “To this end, I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

Wherever you are at in your journey to know God, my strong encouragement is to not just sit back and be a passive receiver. If you are skeptical, research the answers. If you have been turned off in the past, give it a second look. If you are open to it, check out one of the many churches in Cedar, Ladysmith or Chemainus. I am confident that if you put in some effort, God will meet you halfway and turn your labour into love.