Productivity-minded people tend to focus on what they don’t have. It’s a natural byproduct of ambition. You want to get more, find more success, and refine yourself, so you’re always reaching for the next thing. Because of this, we focus primarily on improving our weaknesses. And while it’s good to want to get better where we fall short, the downside of this mindset is that it can cause us to underestimate the unique way God has gifted us. Instead of flourishing in our strengths, we spend our time wishing we had so-and-so’s gifts instead.
In their 2020 book, The Unfair Advantage, authors Hasan Hubba and Ash Ali suggest to entrepreneurs an alternative approach to competition. Instead of trying to compete against the strengths of other businesses, they encourage their readers to focus their attention on their own unique strengths. By leaning into your unfair advantages, you can develop a unique identity that’s difficult to copy. I believe God has provided Christians with unique productivity advantages.Sometimes we fail to see just how much productive power God has given us because we are too focused on the latest and best productivity systems the world offers.
The world says be productive in your own strength, but the Bible says be productive in God’s power. Christians cannot produce fruit by their own efforts; it’s only via their connection to Christ that they can do anything that truly matters (John 15:5). Believers in Jesus Christ know that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). God-honoring productivity is fueled by His power working through me for His glory. The power to produce the fruit of good works in our jobs, homes, churches, and neighborhoods isn’t found in this technique or that system; it’s found in the sufficient grace granted to us in Christ Jesus. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). Christians already have what it takes to be productive. God has equipped us to “abound in every good work.” So, for the Christian, productivity is not primarily about being the strongest, smartest, or hardest working. It’s about drawing on God’s power to serve others and bring Him glory.
“Believers are on a can’t-fail mission.”
One thing I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve studied what the Bible has to say about productivity is that God has specially equipped believers for the task. There may be a lot to be gained from the world’s methods, but every believer already holds several unfair advantages when it comes to personal productivity.
Some of these advantages are common to all Christians, and some are unique to each individual. Let’s first look at some of the unfair productivity advantages every Christian possesses.
The first unfair productivity advantage Christians have is that we are under grace. Those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ have a new relationship to their work. Many people employ productivity techniques out of fear—fear of failure, fear of financial ruin, or fear of embarrassment. But because Christ has paid the penalty for our sins, we’ve got nothing to fear. Perfect love has cast it out (1 John 4:18). Christians know that our identity is not in our ability to get stuff done but in Christ’s “It is finished” (John 19:30). What a relief!
Still, we often look to productivity to find peace. We think that if we work hard enough, we can find the peace of financial security, respect from the world, or just some relief from life’s daily pressures. But by grace, we already have peace through Jesus Christ. Our productivity, therefore, becomes an expression of quiet worship, not desperation. When we have a bad day, don’t finish our to-do list, or miss a goal, we don’t beat ourselves up about it—we turn it over to God. Christ is the basis of our peace, not our productivity.
The second unfair productivity advantage Christians have is prayer. The veil is torn; we now have access to God the Father through Jesus Christ. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). And prayer isn’t just another weapon in our productivity arsenal, it’s a tactical nuke. Yet too few of us take advantage of it. Not only is being able to talk to God an unimaginable privilege, but prayer is also supernaturally effective. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (NIV). Prayer works. If our aim is to be productive in bearing good fruit for God’s glory, why wouldn’t we take advantage of the resources He gave us to accomplish that mission? Too often we set out in pursuit of our goals or daily plan without pausing to seek heavenly aid. If God wants you to be productive and He promises to provide assistance if you ask, then why don’t we pray more?
Imagine if we prayed throughout the day at work. Imagine if we were disciplined in asking the Lord to establish the work of our hands (Ps. 90:17). What would happen if we wrote time to pray into our daily schedules and took it just as seriously as we take our lunch breaks or Zoom meetings? Of the many things you can squeeze onto your to-do list, does prayer make the cut? Prayer is indeed an unfair productivity advantage. If only we took prayer more seriously.
Knowing why you are here on this planet is an unbelievable advantage. While the rest of the world gropes for meaning or seeks to construct its own sense of purpose, we have ours etched in stone. We know exactly why we are here. We exist to glorify God. Having that north star of purpose can save the productive Christian from countless griefs. When our ultimate aim is the fame of the Maker, we will steer clear of traps like the love of money, vainglory, or corner cutting. Productive Christians get up and work each day because we know that ultimately our work brings glory to the King we so love. Knowing our purpose gives Christians an unfair productivity advantage.
Finally, every Christian has the unfair productivity advantage of knowing our success is guaranteed. Believers are on a can’t-fail mission. As we seek to manage our time well and be efficient and productive, we are constantly committing our work to God and trusting that He will establish our plans (Prov. 16:3). But following the Lord does not mean you will always succeed in the short term. Your business may fail, you might fail the assignment, or your boss may hate your presentation. Following Jesus does not guarantee temporal success, but it does guarantee eternal success. “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).
The ending has already been written, and the winner is Jesus Christ and His followers. When we work in a manner worthy of our calling with right motives, even if our immediate plans fail, we have succeeded where it matters most. Productive Christians have an eternal perspective on success. Because of this we have the amazing ability to dust ourselves off with a joyful heart even after an epic failure.
by Reagan Rose
Feeling overwhelmed and unproductive? The answer isn’t to do more. What image forms in your mind when you think of productivity? An...
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