Emma DaShiell Children’s Ministry Coordinator, Cherry Street Baptist Church
In his book, “Do More Better”, Tim Challies defines productivity as “effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. Stewarding gifts: check. Talents: check. Time: you bet. Energy: I got this. Enthusiasm: Wait, what? For the good of others...*eyebrows furrow* ...and the glory of God *woof*.
I tracked with everything until the word “enthusiasm.” I am a hard worker, but in order for it to be considered productive, it has to be enthusiastic? Enthusiasm is defined by Merriam-Webster as “strong excitement of feeling or something inspiring zeal or fervor.” Why on earth does enthusiasm matter? I’m glad you asked. Enthusiasm in productivity matters for two reasons. God desires it, and others need it.
God desires it. In I Corinthians we are called to do all things decently and in order. I cling to this verse to a fault sometimes. But what I have to remember is that we are also called to do those things heartily as unto the Lord. Time and time again in Scripture, we see that heart attitude is paramount...the widow’s mite, the loaves and fishes, the washing of Jesus’ feet. Each instance looks the insignificance of the task in the eye and ups the ante to the heart. I don’t want to minimize the importance of work. It is important. Vital even. But this begs the question, “Am I most productive when I get things done, or when I do my best with an enthusiastic heart?” II Corinthians 9:7 says, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” While we mostly talk about this verse in regard to our money, the principle is the same for our gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm.
Others need it. I find a lot of personal satisfaction in completing tasks. I’m on board to work heartily unto the Lord. But, for the good of others? ….What if they aren’t good toward me? Productivity has never been about what I produce, but rather what I steward. And more times than not, who I steward...the ministry team I work with, volunteers in our children’s ministry, my friends and my family. We have a great opportunity to provoke one another to love and good works when we do what we do with enthusiasm. Romans 12 tells us to be kindly affectioned one to another, prefer one another, to not be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Work becomes more enjoyable and productive for ourselves and others when we are enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm is contagious. God desires it because He is more interested in our hearts than our work. Others need it because some things are better caught than taught. If you’re feeling stuck in your productive world, I highly recommend Tim Challies’ book “Do More Better.” In my experience, being unproductive is typically a symptom of a deeper rooted issue that sprouts from my heart. This practical definition has given me a new perspective on productivity. One in which I believe will reap far more reward not just here, but also in heaven.
One more time just to let it marinate…
Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.