Tim Challies

Tim Challies is a writer, pastor and speaker. More than 30,000 people visit www.Challies.com each day, making it one of the most widely read and recognized Christian blogs in the world. Challies is the author of several books, including “Visual Theology” and “Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity.” He and his family reside near Toronto, Canada.

What is productivity?

Type in the word “productivity” at www.amazon.com, and it yields over 90,000 results.

That’s the irony of productivity: an increase of options decreases our output.

Whether it’s projects to tackle, tasks to complete, people to meet or groups to join, the countless choices challenge our ability to be productive.

Challies said productivity starts with God because He gives us direction in our everyday decisions.

“The more we have a good sense of the things that God has called us to, the better equipped we are to learn what to say ‘no’ to,” Challies said. “There’s great advice that comes from Greg McKeown, ‘We need to learn the slow “yes” and the quick “no.”’”

A productive person isn’t defined by how much they get done, but by what they get done. Activity and productivity aren’t synonymous.

“We’re all prone to define it as quantity rather than quality,” Challies said. “We tend to feel we’ve done valuable things when we’ve done a lot of things, not necessarily when we’ve done the right things. Productivity is effectively using my gifts, talents, time, energy and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.”

How should a Christian’s motives differ from a nonbeliever’s motives?

In a performance-based society, we attach who we are to what we do.

People have a fear of not reaching their dreams, not making it, not being enough or being seen as lazy. The downside of this is a nonstop drive to be somebody and say, “I made it in life.”

Challies wrote a “theology of productivity” because he wanted to get back to the foundation of, “Why should I be productive? What does being productive have to do with being a Christian?”

Challies said productivity is pointless if our motivation is self-centered.

“If you’re not living for the Lord ultimately, you’re living for yourself ultimately,” Challies said. “You can only have one master. You either serve God or you serve self. (You might ask God), ‘You gave me life, so what am I to do with this life You’ve given me—this little fleeting bit of time?’ The Scriptural answer is that we’re to do good to others because as we do good to others, we bring glory to God. The average definition of productivity out there is to do what fulfills me, what I find personally fulfilling and makes me feel good about myself.”

What are the dangers of being consumed with productivity?

Being consumed with productivity can cause us to perceive people as obstacles to our goals or instruments to achieve our goals.

A productive day to Jesus was defined by investing in others. Challies said we never should put productivity over people.

“In many ways, people are ministry,” Challies said. “People are the only thing in this world that are going to last. We’re not here to create wealth. People can be interruptions to productivity, but people can be productivity. Introverts have the temptation to shut people out. Extroverts have the temptation to be too easily distracted or lean toward people and be sidetracked by human concerns. (We might ask), ‘In this situation, is this a divine interruption or do I need to put this person off to another time?’”

How should we prioritize our priorities?

There are those of us who are early birds or night owls, while some work best in the afternoon.

Since our energy levels ebb and flow throughout the day, we need to figure out when we are most productive.

Challies shared a few practical ways to prioritize:

>Be prayerful when weighing each opportunity.

>Do the hardest thing on your list first.

>Break big tasks into small ones.

>Be aware of the endless web of distractions.