If life on earth is just preparation for the new heaven and new earth, why would we spend so much time, money, and brainwidth on things that aren’t going to last and instead focus all of our efforts on building for a retirement that will never end?
What About the Mundane?
Yes, the oil needs to be changed, the conference table has a big scratch and needs replacing, and your middle child needs help on her math homework. But is there anything in this list that can’t be done out of a spirit of eternal responsibility, faithfulness, and stewardship? Am I the only one who sees the connection between present obedience and eternal rewards? When we look at the menial tasks of daily living, do we do them knowing God is watching and waiting to reward us for being productive in all things, large and small?
Don’t Efficiency and Effectiveness Matter?
When it comes to productivity, I used to think only in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. But, if that’s where productivity ends, all I’d have wound up with are a lot of to-do lists converted to “to-done” lists. Gospel-driven productivity contains efficiency and effectiveness as elements, but the core of Clean Slate is not so much about getting more done in less time, rather being found faithful in the face of the Father.
The Aim of the Game
Jesus never told parables that ended in “well done, good and efficient servant”, did He? While Paul does command us to be fruitful or effective, God is the ultimate judge of what was effective or not. He will be the one to weigh both motives and outcomes and promises to reward us accordingly.
If we look at individual scriptures, we’ll find efficiency (Prov. 21:5, Eph. 5:15-16, Matt. 25:14-30, etc.). We’ll find effectiveness (1 Cor. 16:9, Philemon 1:6, Phil. 1.22, etc.). Heck, we’ll even find excellence & zeal, (Col. 3:23, Eph. 6:7) right? But, I believe if we comb the entirety of scripture, we’ll see something much more sizeable, significant, and simple as we seek God’s definition of productivity. Here’s my definition from a biblical perspective:
Gospel-driven productivity: Right things, done well, in God’s power and timing, for His glory.
Productivity happens when faithful followers take extreme ownership of the stewardships God has entrusted to them and in gratitude for what Christ has done and will do (2 Cor. 5:10), work diligently at them. It involves everything that comes across our desk, our phones, our inboxes and beyond.
What are you doing regularly at work, at home, and elsewhere to ensure you’re doing right things well in God’s power and timing and for His glory?
If you’re into productivity and getting things done, this is going to sound like the strangest exercise, ever. I get it. But, humor me because as I read the scriptures, it’s the only productivity exercise that matters.
You will need about 2 minutes and your to do list or calendar for this exercise. Before you begin, let me give you the essential backdrop for it:
What Does Matter?
One day, we will each come before Jesus. Here, I’m specifically referring to those who are “in Christ”, saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. We will be rewarded for the things we did while living here in the body. Here, for the first time, we will know the true measure of our earthly productivity from the only perspective that matters: God’s. See 2 Cor. 5:10. We call this the bema (BAY-muh) seat judgment. While we don’t exactly know what how it will go down, we know that it will go down. Some will hear the word “welcome”. Others will hear “well done”.
Exercise, Part 1:
Look at today’s to-do list and/or calendar, reading each item and appointment briefly. Imagine you accomplished everything on the list and met every appointment on your calendar. Imagine at the end of that day, everything you’d hoped to accomplish was not only checked off the list, but also catalogued in detail in the book of your life. From this book, you will account for what you accomplished – see Romans 14:12.
On that particular day, you die and appeared before Christ to account for everything He just recorded in the book of your life. You received some rewards for things done well and experienced loss for some things you did out of selfish motive, but you’re still saved and you’ll still spend eternity with Him. Suddenly, heaven disappears and you’re back here at the beginning of that day with your list and calendar. The day has just begun – and I sit down across the table or desk from you. “So, what did you see?” I ask. Could you tell me at that point?
Exercise, Part 2:
The prophet Daniel details a vision of standing before God. It’s a vision of national judgment, not personal, but gives us valuable insight regarding what it will be like to stand before God. Before you tell me about your encounter with Christ, you need a picture of what you’re about to describe to me. It’s crucial that you read this in a very specific way:
- Stare wide eyed as if looking off into space. (I know, weird, but you’ll understand why in a moment.)
- Read this in a whisper as if you’re telling me every stunning detail of what you actually saw with your own eyes just before being called to account for your life:
As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened. (Dan. 7:9-10)
- NOW… Look back at your list. Glance at your calendar. Is there anything on either that you don’t want to have to account for in front of the God you just described to me? Not because you don’t feel like doing it, but because you know our time on earth is short and if you invest time in doing that activity it will steal time away from something more important that the Christ you just described has called you to do?
- Eliminate what does not line up with this judgment. You know you have responsibilities. You know there are pleasant distractions you’d like to follow. But, you know there’s only so much time and you… will… receive rewards or suffer loss… (1 Cor. 3:12-15) in front of… the God of the universe – Ancient of Days (El Olam!!!) – seated on a flaming throne, attended by millions, aware of every detail of your life… longing to reward you with a “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
One day, we’ll all be called home. And, that’s great news because we’ll spend forever worshiping Christ. But, He promised rewards, detailed rewards, and commanded us to store them up in heaven (not for our glory, but to His). If we’ll spend forever enjoying Him and the rewards He’s given us (to which some would add “enjoying Him in proportion to the rewards attained”), why would we waste what little time we have here on things that will turn to ash at the bema seat?
Eternity is the only proper base line for temporal productivity. That’s the connection between That Day and Clean Slate. You’re going to be judged for everything you do. Make sure what you do is worth judging.
Now, go. Be eternally productive.
What’s Killing YOUR Productivity?
As more people come to me for advice on productivity, the most common issue I’m asked about is this:
“urgent things keep intruding on important things” a.k.a., “distractions & interruptions”
My best response is God’s response:
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds. (Prov. 27:23a)”
Not the answer you were looking for? I’ll elaborate…
Meet Your Sheep
You’ve got stuff to do… That’s your flock.
You may not have actual sheep like Solomon’s audience 2,500 years ago. But, you do have a flock of “P.R.I.O.R.” commitments: Projects, Responsibilities, Ideas, Opportunities, and Relationships. For these God will hold you accountable and reward you (2 Cor. 5:10). Therefore, “knowing the condition of your flocks and giving careful attention to your herds” is of critical importance to you.
Some translations even render this phrase “be diligent to know the state of your flocks”. So…
On a scale of 1 to 10, how diligent are you right now in knowing your state of flock?
What’s Your Better?
At the end of 2016 nearly 100% of Americans wanted 2017 to be better. But, which better?
The prayer requests I got sounded like “clarity & direction”, “make the right decisions at work”, “be more fully present in key relationships” (wife or significant other, kids, extended family), “stay in the word”, “stop playing catch up at work and actually get ahead”. What were yours? Crushing it yet? Didn’t make any? Read on…
This year, about 41% of Americans made New Year’s resolutions. Almost 45% of those people will make it 6 months or more on those resolutions. In other words, while a lot of people are interested in change, not everyone is committed to lasting change in their lives. Even fewer actually achieve it.
Two Kinds of People – Which Are You?
Some of you are really active people – you do a lot of stuff. Others are highly productive people – you get a lot of stuff done. But, I firmly assert that God doesn’t want either. I believe God doesn’t want us to settle for merely doing more stuff. He calls us to something better: getting the right stuff done in His power and His timing with right motives. How about you? Comment below.
You can be in one place alone: on track or off track. If you’re on track, good for you. Just know you have an enemy who wants you off track and will do all in his power to get you there. The great news is, God has an order and a power (grace) designed to get you back on track every time you’re off. The most productive people have plans in place designed to help them get back on track as quickly and often as possible. Are you one of them?
This week, I’m offering a free webinar under the Clean Slate banner: “Re:gaining Productivity”. So, whether you’ve lost momentum or just want help keeping it, I’m here to partner with you in the process with biblical solutions to real world problems.
Is that worth 45 minutes of your time? What I’m covering hasn’t just changed my life, it’s helping people, churches and businesses keep the main thing the main thing. If that’s important to you, click here and register for Thursday’s webinar.
Ever Felt Overwhelmed?
Ten years ago, I got a job promotion. Sounds good, right? But, without an immediate replacement for my old position, I found myself responsible for both my new job and my old job… for almost 4 months!
In very short order, I started experiencing burnout. All the while, I was being told “work smarter, not harder” by several well meaning colleagues. But, when I asked them “what’s that look like”? No one had any definitive answers that I could immediately put to work. Besides being frustrated, I felt like the light at the end of the tunnel was getting dimmer the harder I worked.
After a ton of fervent prayer, God brought to my attention a book by a secular author outlining what appeared to be completely secular ideas and practices. I would later learn he hadn’t taught me anything that God hadn’t already thought of first. Once I understood this framework, I was able to process (not merely “delete”) over 4,500 emails and make a respectable dent in my swelling in basket… in just 72 hours.
I got to share a little of this story with Ministry Ventures’ “Leader Infusion Podcast” last quarter. You can listen to it here.
God has never given us work to do without the perspective needed to accomplish it. Productivity is woven throughout the scriptures, believe it or not, and an experienced guide can help you pick up that trail, if you’re willing to watch and listen. We call it “Clean Slate”. We’ve designed a full day workshop to help men, women, and organizations rethink their work from God’s perspective and remove as many barriers to “productivity” as possible. Stage 1 of engaging with is like “Clean Slate Lite” – a free, introductory webinar that serves as a first step on the road to freedom from overwhelm.
If you’re overcommitted, overwhelmed, or just plain “over it”, carve some time out on Wednesday afternoon, August 12th and attend our introductory webinar “5 Steps to End an Inbox Crisis”. My friend, Don, attended our workshop last year and regularly reminds me how we worked together to get him from thousands of emails in his inbox to “done” in just 5 days. A ministry leader friend who attended our last webinar reminds me that if people actually do what we’re teaching, there’s no reason why they can’t catch up and get ahead when it comes to “to do”.
I hope to see you or someone you love on our upcoming webinar and look forward to helping you do what God designed you to do, further, faster, with greater impact.
- To attend the webinar, click here and register. We’ll handle the rest.
- To spread the word on the webinar, click here to watch & share our video.