Paul J Meyers once said,
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
It is because of this understanding of the purposeful attitude needed in order to reach the level of true productivity, that I’ve set out to talk about this subject in detail.
First of all, it is important to understand what productivity is in order to reach that level.
It’s so easy to look at “productive” people and say “They’ve got it. They know what it’s about” because they have to-do lists that are completely accomplished by the end of the day. Perhaps they have a successful business, a life with numerous friends, and/or a wallet with extra cash for leisure spending. Perhaps they have even received numerous well-known awards for great accomplishments. Does that mean they have a productive life? Does a lengthly list of accomplishments equal productivity?
If you’re a Christian looking to have a productive life, the place we need to start this discussion is the Word of God.
Verses like Psalm 1:1-6; Proverbs 21:21; and Matthew 6:33 all discuss success in God’s eyes, but the key to these passages is found in Matthew 16:24-27.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
What is your desire? Is it to be productive in the eyes of the world? Is it to be the one person who can manage all responsibilities without ever dropping the ball? Or… dare I ask, is it to be a spiritually productive child of God in a busy, sinful world?
As I sit back and think about how I commonly view productivity in my day, I realize that my sinful tendency is to do what most people do: look at my to-do list and measure my productivity by the number of cross-outs I have on the list. Sometimes, I’m even tempted to add tasks I’ve already finished to my list just so the ratio of finished tasks versus unfinished is increased. However, as I go back to the foundation of Truth, the Bible, I am convicted that true productivity starts with attention to the eternal.
So, productivity, what is it?
I did a lot of research on the definition of productivity, and the most-interesting definition I found was actually from Wiktionary.com. Let’s take a detailed look at what the world calls “productivity”:
productivity (plural productivities)
- the state of being productive, fertile or efficient
- the rate at which goods or services are produced by a standard population of workers
- the rate at which crops are grown on a standard area of land
There is so much I could say about each of these definitions in regards to productivity and the Christian life. The richness is unbelievable. We should be fertile and efficient in our day-to-day lives, yes, but how much more to be fertile spiritually! We are to be bearing fruit (Psalm 1; Col. 1:6, 10), right? We are to be producing “goods or services” daily in our lives for Christ. We are to be growing crops “100-fold” (Matthew 13:18-23) for the Kingdom of God! What beautiful imagery here.
Sure, you say, but the writer here was by no means intending to challenge us spiritually in the simple definition of “productivity”. However, I hope you are challenged. Our lives are productive if and only if we are focused on the spiritual realm (not to be over-spiritual Pharisees, of course). We need to find our greatest productivity in the pursuit of Christ, wholehearted discipleship, and life-consuming service to His Kingdom.
I want to challenge you as we study productivity to revolutionize your life by measuring your productivity not as a day-to-day list of to-do lists to be accomplished but as a measuring rod of how well you are doing seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). God has offered never-failing promises that He will give us what we need, so take Him at His promise and prioritize your productivity by putting the eternal before the temporal.
How can we do this?
Being in the Word is one of the most-productive things we can do in our day. It is a crucial aspect of our day-to-day lives because it is a direct lifeline to the things of the Lord and His priorities for our lives. It takes discipline, self-control, and trust in Him to fulfill his promises to take that time and to not just read chapters for the sake of crossing off a task from the to-do list, but to actually dive into the Word, study it, soak in it, meditate on it, and desire for it to not only infiltrate but transform your life.
Praying daily and for an extended period of time is also crucial. God has given us the treasured (but often taken-for-granted) ability to enter His Holy Presence and approach Him at the Throne of Grace. He has offered us the ability to make a difference in our world through the power of prayer. (James 5:16) I confess this is often a struggle for me because of my lack of faith and my own “Martha” mentality that I always need to be doing something. However, Luke 10:41 constantly reminds me that being a “Mary” that takes the time to put aside the to-do list and dwell in His presence is the greater choice:
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
So, productivity is, in one simple sentence, “the prioritization of one’s relationship with the Lord in order to find true accomplishment in one’s growth in their knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ and their day-to-day service to Him and His church.”
Tune in next week for more Talk about It Tuesdays‘ discussion on productivity.