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Who doesn’t want to be more productive with their time?
But Christians must be careful that in pursuing efficiency we don’t fall for these five lies of productivity.
1. The Tool Can Do It for You
Whether it’s a hammer or an iPhone app, tools are a common grace from God that make work easier.
(I could write a whole post on how amazing it is that the same God who cursed our work after the fall, graciously provided us the wisdom to create tools to lighten the load of the curse. Amazing!)
But one pernicious lie of productivity is that tools can do the work for you.
You see this in advertising for household appliances, productivity apps, or in the promises of “passive income” businesses. Just get the right tool, and you’ll never have to lift a finger!
The truth is tools can help our work, but they’ll never relieve us of the need to work.
If you chase productivity tools in pursuit of creating a labor-less heaven on earth, you will find yourself sadly disappointed.
2. Faster Is Always Better
It is good that we want to accomplish more in less time. If we can remove tedium and repetitiveness from our work, we can focus on higher value activities.
Faster is often better. But faster is not always better.
Some things take time and it’s good that they do.
There are things in this life that aren’t supposed to be fast. You can microwave a brisket. But if you care at all about food, you know it will taste better if you smoke it for 8 hours. It takes a lot more time, but it’s worth it.
The same is true of relationships, and writing, and any work that requires craftsmanship. Faster is not always better.
If you think being productive means rushing through everything in life, you may soon find you’ve rushed through the very stuff of life itself.
3. Work Hard So You Can Be Lazy Later
Often the appeal of productivity is if you hustle now, you can kick back later. And it’s certainly true that there’s a time for hustle and a time for relaxation.
But there’s a clever and ironic lie embedded in productivity that bears special appeal for those of us given to sloth. “Productivity can help me be lazy.”
Like when you were a kid and you hastily completed your chores so you could play outside. When our work is marked not by a desire to do it well, but simply to get through it, quality suffers.
We work hard so we can please the Lord.
4. Your Accomplishments Define You
One of the most pernicious lies that productive Christians can imbibe is the lie that our accomplishments define us.
This lie can show up in how we pursue our goals, our motivations, or the moments we berate ourselves up for failing.
The amazing truth I must constantly remind myself of is that my accomplishments don’t define me.
Christ’s accomplishments define me.
My pursuit of productive labor is not a search for an identity but an expression of my true identity in Christ. I want to work hard not to earn something, but because I’m worshipping someone in how I work.
5. If You Can Do More, You Should
Lastly, is the lie that leads to overcommitment. This lie tells us that redeeming the time means packing every minute full to the brim with productive activity. And if we have a spare moment, we should do something with it or feel guilty.
But man was made from dust not steel. We are people not machines. We have limitations.
Allowing yourself time that isn’t perfectly scheduled, flawlessly efficienct, or carefully calculated isn’t a lazy luxury, it’s part of being a human. And our frailty is something God is well aware of, because He made us.
“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” – Psalm 103:14
Productivity is important for Christians because we serve a productive God who has given us work to do. But Christians must pursue productivity as Christians and be wary of the subtle lies which can lead us astray.