The chains of efficiency seem to be lifting us up to increasing demands for productivity. Many are looking for that golden bullet that will help them get more things done in a shorter amount of time. We pick up new productivity books or leadership conferences or scan blog posts for tips and tricks to turn our lives into well oiled, productivity machines. If you are like me, chances are you have experience the pressure and demand of your responsibilities. It is a good thing to work and to be productive, but yet I am fearful that the zeal for productivity, success, and checking off tasks puts an enslaving yoke around our necks.
Work and Productivity are Good
As we develop a theology of work and productivity the Scriptures clearly outline them as good things. Work was around before the corruption of sin entered into the world as Adam tended and cultivated the garden. As you read the Gospels you see Jesus productively teaching, preaching, and healing. His ministry and schedule was one few could bare. You even see the apostle Paul laboring and toiling for the spread of the Gospel traveling, writing letters, preaching, planting churches, and training leaders. Work, productivity, and busyness are not bad things. The Bible doesn't just praise a man or woman with a work ethic, but it rebukes the lazy. Paul commands the church at Thessolinca that if a man is unwilling to work, to not let him eat. (2 Thess 3:10)
So if work and productivity are good things how does the Gospel speak into these areas?
1. Work from Christ's Finished Work
As we begin working and laboring in our jobs, careers, or tasks we most always remember the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is for us in our passion for efficiency to begin to add to the work Christ has finished. In our work we are not proving ourselves to God or earning our salvation and redemption. Knowing that we work out of joy and thanksgiving to the glory of God frees us from becoming productivity slaves.
2. You are Only Human
Human Beings are finite creatures and must rest. There is a reason God designed us to spend a third of our lives sleeping. We are weak and require rest. This is one of the reasons God has given us the Sabbath to rest and remember that we are finite creatures.creatures
No matter how many productivity techniques you master or your ability to keep your inbox to zero, you will require rest. You are not a machine but a human being. Your work will have ebbs and flows of extreme productivity and then periods of lack of focus and clarity. Part of being human means that there is sometimes an unpredictable element to our work not only because we do not know what each day will bring, but because of our often unpredictable emotional strength and will.
3. Work for the Glory of God
It is easy to turn our work into a selfish personal quest. We work long hours to increase our sales to increase our lifestyle. We exhaust ourselves earning a promotion so we can feel superior and important. So often our motivations for hard work are selfish. Yet the Scriptures tells us that whatever we do we do it for the glory of God. We work diligently in our work place seeking God's name to be praised in our productivity. Although hard work will often increase your salary or earn you that promotion, those things must be secondary to our God given purpose of bringing glory to his name.
4. Work Hard for the Kingdom of God
Sometimes in life there will be seasons when we over work. Yet this is not always a bad thing. As we look at the Scriptures and see the pace of Jesus ministry or of the missionary Paul it is good to spend ourselves serving others in our work. The desire for hard work and productivity is a good thing if we channel it to focus on God and His Kingdom. We must find balance in our lives and always keep a proper perspective on our priorities, but it is good to be spent for the glory of God. It is good not to waste our life in laziness and self-indulgence, but to work hard for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the spread of the reign of Christ through justice.
Remember the finished work of Christ, work hard, be productive, remember to regularly rest, and spend your life for the glory of God.