A Theology of Productivity

My life goes in a lot of different directions.  I am a husband, a father of 4 kids, and pastor of a church.  I try to read a lot and am trying to write my first book.  I do some extra work facilitating ropes courses.  I also did many of these things while I was getting my Masters of Divinity and in the Fall I will be starting a Doctor of Ministry program.  Needless to say, my days and weeks can get full.  It can be hard to get everything done or at least get the right things done.  For that reason, I have always read a lot about goal setting, time management, and

My perspective changed when, on a whim, I picked up the book What’s Best Next by Matt Perlman.  Not only does Perlman give a number of great tips on getting things done, but he does so from a theologically and Biblical astute perspective.  He says at one point that if the Gospel changes everything, then it must change how we approach our work.  Since reading this book I have been thinking about and developing my own theology of productivity.

To begin, God is active and productive.  When we see God in the Bible we see God doing things and getting things done.  God creates, begets, sends, leads, plans, calls, reveals…  In God’s very triune nature there is relationship but there is also responsibility.  God has purposes and God works them out.

When God creates human beings, God creates human beings in God’s image.  God tells them to fill the earth and subdue it.  This means having children, but it also means continuing the work of God to create and progress the world to its fulfillment.  The Bible gives several metaphors for this.   God expects us to produce.–  Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and we are to bear fruit.  Paul even names some of the fruit we are supposed to produce.  We are also building something.–  We are building our lives and building our churches.  We need to plan the costs and build on a solid foundation.  The other way the Bible talks about this is that God has good works for us to do.  The Bible even says that God has prepared things for us to do before time.

It is important that we keep perspective on our work.  First, our work is not saving, but it is responding.  We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works.  Furthermore, God is only as dependent on our good works as God chooses to be.  God does not need us or our efforts, but God has tied God’s work in the world to the work of His people.

Especially important is the reality that our work is broken.  When sin hits humanity, our work is cursed.  There are thorns and thistles in the work that we have to accomplish.  Paul says it this way:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)

The days are evil, so we need to be wise.  Paul defines wisdom as “making the best use of the time.”  It is Biblical that we need to get organized,manage time, and set priorities.  If God has plans and purposes for us, then we should at least take some time to think about what they are and make plans to accomplish them.  Important things will not accomplish themselves in our broken world.  As Christians, we need to intentionally pursue God’s plans and purposes for us.

I will look at specifically how to do this in a future blog, but this entry I just wanted to lay out a theological need for productivity.

I recently preached on this topic.  For my sermon on Getting Things Done, listen here or follow the link to http://jordanrimmer.podbean.com/2014/04/27/getting-things-done-a-theology-of-productivity/

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