Recently, I wrote about productivity from a Biblical perspective. Today, I would like to ask you a question. Or rather, I have already asked you the question, for it is the title of this article: Has productivity become your idol? Before you have a chance to answer defensively, let’s break the question down and clear up some definitions.
As mentioned in the last article, the Cambridge dictionary defines “productivity” as: “the ability to do as much work as possible in a particular period”. For more on that, go and read Productivity from a Biblical Perspective.
The second word we have to clear up is “idol”. When teaching children, I define an idol as something – anything – that is more important to us than God. Absolutely anything that has taken that #1 place in our hearts. Anything we value more than our relationship with our Lord and Savior.
That may sound simple. Too simple. But truly, that’s what it is. In other words, anything can become an idol – including productivity.
The idol called “productivity”
In our time and age, it is easy to make productivity an idol. Society puts a lot of pressure on us to live productive lives. Therefore, it is no surprise that many fall into this trap. Most people don’t even realize they are worshiping productivity. That leads us to the next question.
How can I know if I have made productivity an idol?
There are many ways to identify idols in your life. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started regarding this one:
- Do I measure how good my day was by how much I got done?
- Is it difficult for me to spend time resting in God’s presence because I feel like I should be “doing” something?
- Do I hurry through tasks instead of doing them well, just because I want to get as much done as possible?
- Am I tempted to multitask during my Quiet Time?
- Do I like reading my Bible early in the day, so that I can tick it off my to-do list?
There are many more things you can ask yourself, but these are a few to get you started. If you found yourself saying “yes” to one or multiple of these, it can well be that productivity has taken a place above God in your heart.
How can I fight this idol?
The way to fight the idol called productivity is the same way we must fight any idol. There are three steps you can follow as a guideline.
Discovering an idol in your life is a serious thing. The Bible clearly says in the 10 commandments that God must be the most important in our lives. If He isn’t, we must humbly come before Him and ask for forgiveness. If you do this, He will forgive, since He has promised this (If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. John 1:9)
2. Turn away
The next logical step is to turn away from the sin in our lives. We cannot do this on our own, but with God’s help, we can. Pray for wisdom and help regarding this. Often, it also helps to ask a friend to hold you accountable. There is something uncomfortable about having to tell someone about how we deliberately didn’t do what we wanted to do. Use that to your advantage.
3. Turn to God
Turning away from the sin doesn’t help if we don’t turn to God at the same time. The only way to keep idols from our life is to make sure that Jesus is our #1. Keep your focus on Him. Keep Him on the throne of your life.
Seek the Lord and His strength; seek his presence continually! (Psalm 105:4)
It is easy to fall into the trap of making productivity an idol. But, with Christ’s help, it is possible to get out of it again. God is always there to help you, and no matter what, He wants to be the #1 in your life.
We hope you enjoyed this two part series by our columnist, Sarah! If you did, please leave her a comment! God bless you all!
Productivity. It’s one of those “trendy” words that have been around for a while, but still are “in”. You might have seen posts like “how to be more productive”, you may have downloaded a “productivity app” or even read books on the topic.
As Christians, it is always important to look at anything society says through a biblical lens. Before we do that, though, we must always be sure to clarify what we mean when we use certain words.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, “to be productive” means: resulting in or providing a large amount or supply of something and “productivity” is: the ability to do as much work as possible in a particular period.
In other words, the more you manage to get done in one day, the better.
What the Bible says about time management
We have probably all read this verse so, so many times: “[Make] the best use of the time” (Ephesians 5:16a). The Bible tells us to use our time wisely. Time is a gift from God and what we make of it, is our gift back to Him.
When I was younger, one of my favorite quotes was: “Time here on earth is limited. Use it or lose it.” I sadly cannot remember by whom it is.
From what we can see until now, it looks like the Bible supports the idea of productivity. But we must go deeper. We must look at the One who alone is perfect.
Did Jesus live a “productive” life?
To answer this question, we must once again remind ourselves of the definition of the word. Productivity is “the ability to do as much work as possible in a particular period”. Was that the way Jesus lived? Did Jesus do as much as possible in a day?
No. We can see at many occasions that he didn’t. Even when there was lots and lots to do, Jesus stopped for the one. My favorite example of this is in Mark 5.
Jesus is busy. He is surrounded by crowds upon crowds of people. In addition to that, he must hurry to get to a certain place. An important man is waiting for him. That man is Jairus. But on his way, something, or rather someone, holds him up. A woman.
And Jesus stops and turns. He has a lot to do, and yet, Jesus “wastes” time on the woman.
The difference between productivity and using our time wisely
The Bible tells us to use our time wisely. It does not tell us to do as much as possible in one day. The question we should ask ourselves again and again should not be How much can I fit into my schedule today?
Instead, the question should be What does God want me to do today? If we do what Christ wants us to do, some days it may look like we are “wasting” time on the wrong things. Our peers might condemn us for that.
In those situations, however, you can remember that you are in good company. Jesus did that as well. He “wasted” time on the right people instead of being productive in the wrong things. The truth is that time spent on what God wants us to do is never wasted.
So, dear sister, go stop for the one. Go “waste” time on the people around you. Go spend your time wisely… not productively.
Stay tuned for part two coming next week! :)
Hey friends! I'm Livy, founder and designer of CLM. First and foremost I am a follower of Jesus, and besides that I am a ministry leader, small business operator and writer. I love putting words to paper, going to Starbucks, photography, connecting with friends and much more. This is a place for me to share encouragement with you all. I hope you will enjoy your stay. :)