Productivity Primer

Productivity is one of those subjects that we are very interested in, but we are not sure that the Bible has much to say about it. So we turn to secular sources for insight. But I would argue the Bible says the most profound truths about true productivity. I list here four: 

We are freed for productivity by the gospel producing in us humble love. Biblical humility is self-forgetting, in the sight of God. This self-forgetfulness frees us to love our neighbor, in our various vocations. What produces this humility? See Phil. 3:12: Paul presses on, bearing down in life, to make Christlikeness in all things “his own”. What freed him for this strenuous effort? “Christ Jesus has made me his own.” The slave of Christ is free to love. 

The most crucial step in an effective life is . . . prayer. Surprised? If true productivity is being effective at the most important things, at what we are called to do in life, then prayer accomplishes two requirements of productivity. First, prayer orients us to what actually is most important. Think about the order of the Lord’s Prayer. Pray it by subject, in order, and every time you are bent back from self to being oriented to God’s interests first. But secondly, prayer calls down the necessary power to do the things that matter - and the things that really matter are always beyond our power, our wisdom, our grace. 

Consistency in productivity is fed by humble review. When one is in Christ, productivity is now just something I do, not who I am. So I’m free to humbly solicit feedback - because my identity is not wrapped up in whatever the other person might say. I’m free to seek out a mentor, to ask for advice, to listen. I’m free to look at my past week critically and ask, “Did I spend my time as unto the Lord?” I’m free to solicit feedback, and not shrink from it. 

Some people, less-spiritual than you, are smarter at productivity. D. A. Carson has said that Jethro’s arrival to give Moses organizational, administrative advice on leading God’s people (Exodus 18), was no less a miraculous provision by God as the Red Sea crossing. Though all knowledge terminates on God, and Moses talked “face-to-face” with God, it seemed fitting to God to send Jethro, a man barely on the edges of the worship of God. The wise recognize such gifts of people, and humbly listen to them - all the while keeping one finger in Scripture.