First Things First (Productivity Series)

January 25, 2021

Editor’s Note: Happy New Year! Have you ever looked at an organized woman and thought, “How does she do that!” The Together Blog is here to answer that question in our 3-part productivity series, starting today. We’ve asked some of our most organized, efficient ladies to share their secrets with us so that we can invest the moments God gives us as wisely as possible. We hope you glean some great ideas from these articles!    

I’ve always had a reputation for getting things done, but I’m pretty sure this hasn’t always been a good thing. In fact, my husband used to joke that I was so good at organizing things, I could organize him and our family right into a neat little corner of the house. He was actually being quite kind to challenge my motivations for organization. In that season of my life, my own unchecked desires for order and control coupled with a tendency toward perfectionism may have gotten a lot of things done, but I don’t think they served my family, people around me, or the purposes of the Lord very well.

Through the years I’ve sought to bring Scripture to bear on this area of my life, and though I don’t do it perfectly, these are some of the principles that have served me well.

  • Productivity doesn’t mean just getting things done:  It is so easy in the fast pace of life to find our sense of well-being in ticking items off our to-do lists. Everything around us screams for attention, so getting things done feels good. We can plow into our days, to-do lists in hand, and miss much of what the Lord may have for us on any given day. We make our to-do lists ends in themselves rather than tools to help us do what God has called us to do. So how does Scripture define productivity? In John 15:5 Jesus ties productivity to the fruitfulness that comes from abiding in Him. Don’t let “getting things done” trump daily time with the Lord:

“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).

  • Seek to glorify God in all you do: How we do things is as important as what we do. If I elevate my desire to accomplish things above the biblical call to honor Christ in all I do, I may get things done, but in the process unleash irritation, anger, or inattention on my family and those around me. We should never sacrifice Christ-likeness in order to get things done.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

  • Prioritize people:  I have found that being constantly busy, ultra-organized and rigidly scheduled can easily alienate the very people I am trying to serve. Checking things off my to-do list is not the goal. Using my list to help me meet the needs of others God has placed in my life is a worthy goal. Jesus was others-centered in everything he did, but so often my plans for the day center around me and my desires. How much better to follow Jesus’ example. This may mean setting aside what I want to accomplish in order to listen to a friend in need, or draw out an angry child, or spend time with my husband building our relationship.

    “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
  • Don’t neglect planning: When faced with the huge task of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah prayed for God’s help, surveyed what needed to be done, and made plans to accomplish the work. You don’t need to have administrative gifts to plan and there are many ways to do it. I find it helpful to plan on a weekly basis and to start with the non-negotiables (things that can’t change like work, school, and my need to sleep). Once they are in place in my schedule, I’ll add in priorities (time with the Lord, attending church, time with my family members). Then I’ll add other responsibilities (taking care of and my home—cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc., and serving the church). Finally, I’ll add things I may want to do, but don’t fall into the other categories. Putting in the big things first helps the rest of my schedule to fall into place.

    “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).
  • Trust in the Lord’s sovereignty over each day:  I often start my day with an idea of what I want to accomplish. Planning and preparation are good things, but I find that my days seldom proceed according to my plans. I have found it helpful to hold my plans loosely, as God may have other intentions for my day. He is honored when I am flexible to embrace his plans.

    “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand”  Proverbs 19:21.

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