The Center of a Productive Life: God
These are probably the best few pages I have ever read on being productive.
... Perhaps the chief competitor to God-centeredness is simply making our own aims our center. This, then, leads us to be work-centered, or possession -centered, or pleasure-centered, or having any of those other centers. So it’s important to say that not only do we need to go beyond principle-centeredness to God-centeredness; we also need to avoid the trap of settling for any other center. In fact, a concern for productivity naturally points us to the need for us to put God’s purposes at the center of our lives and productivity, rather than our own purposes . Consider a few reasons.
1. We will give an account to God of how we spent our time.
The apostle Paul states, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. . . . Each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14: 10, 12). This account has to do with all of our life, including how we treat people and operate at work (see Eph. 6: 5 – 9) and not just the time we spend (or don’t spend) at church.
This means that God is the ultimate measure and judge of our productivity. Things that do not pass muster at the final judgment are, by definition, not productive in an ultimate sense. On the other hand, passing the final judgment is the ultimate meaning of a productive life. Hence , in order to know what is truly productive, we need to look to God first, not ourselves or even our own desires.
2. Excluding God is the ultimate in unproductivity.
Jesus makes an important statement in Luke 9: 25: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” Now that is the ultimate in unproductivity: gaining the entire world but losing yourself. Then what do you have?
If you get everything you want in this life, but do it apart from God and receive no eternal value from what you've done, have you been productive? Not in the slightest. Productivity cannot be accomplished apart from Christ. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15: 5). On the other hand, if you live a life that pleases God, in spite of the fact that you are persecuted and mistreated for it, have you been productive? Yes. For God will make up for this in eternity and reward you greatly. “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19: 29).
3. God offers ultimate productivity.
When we are productive in Christ and for his sake, everything we do has an eternal impact. Literally everything. “In everything he does, he prospers” (Ps. 1: 3). “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15: 58). We are to abound (be productive) in the work of the Lord and, beyond that, we are to know that the abundant results of our work in the Lord will not be simply temporal but will last forever (they are not “in vain”).
If we care about productivity , then it makes sense that we would want the things we do to have an eternal impact and last forever . That’s the ultimate in productivity. We have this when we do everything we do for Christ, in his power, and for his glory. It is ultimately unproductive to look only at this life.
4. God answers our need for fulfillment.
As Augustine said, God has made us for himself, and our hearts are restless until they find our rest in him. Or as Jesus said, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4: 14). The chief villain of the story — lack of fulfillment — is answered and conquered only by God himself.
The ultimate reason to center your life and productivity on God is because Jesus is worth it. Jesus is what makes it “your best life now,” if we were to talk in those terms (though I prefer “your best life — later”).
5. God does a better job of planning our lives than we ever can.
While it is important for us to make plans and work for those plans to succeed, we don’t want to fall into the trap of planning our entire lives in meticulous detail, for this simple reason: we are finite and fallible creatures.
You don’t want to be the one to plan your whole life, because God does a better job than you ever will. Again, there is a place for planning. But if your plans are never upset or disrupted, if all that happens to you is something you have planned, your productivity will be very limited. Some of the best, most productive moments in life are the things that we don’t plan — the surprises of life.
Perman, Matthew Aaron (2014-03-04). What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (pp. 55-57). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.