There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” G K Chesterton
Productivity is not just about more.
It is about enough. Getting the most out of your intentioned, invested input, so that you can enjoy the benefits of time and money it affords you.
The payoff is not more boxes ticked, more lists annihilated, more dollars flowing, more minutes filled, more activity, notoriety, fame, fortune…
Rewards of this kind have their payoff, many of them positive, but like a hungry dragon some ambitions will never be satiated.
Praying just last week I heard these words come out of my mouth, “Lord I want to serve you in simplicity and sincerity, uncluttered by my ambitions.”
It made me think about the nature of growth, and the importance of knowing what success looks like.
As the prophet Jeremiah so clearly warned:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.” (Jeremiah 17:9–11 KJV)
What pierces my thinking in this verse, as I read it today, is the statement, “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins.”
“Try the reins” is good ole’ King James lingo for test the motives.
Elsewhere in the New Testament we read:
“For the word of God is … is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 KJV)
At the end of the day, it is not just our “making” that matters, it is the motive behind the making.
Determine your real payoff – the liberties that success and productivity could grant you – and be careful to notice when you arrive at your rich point (never forgetting to enjoy the journey, of course).
Your rich points may be:
• Time with family.
• Time and finance to travel.
• Opportunity to be with your elderly parent.
• Time to study and expand your spiritual horizons…
This list will vary from person to person, but it should not just be a nebulous carrot on a stick like, “be rich”, “be happy” or “be free”.
Specific goals (if we call them that, really they are much more) can be measured.
I believe in abundance.
Laboring against the limitations that poor places you under is not much fun. Rich gives you options. Rich in money. Rich in time. Rich in motivation.
But rich is a relative term, and you need to know when you reach your rich point. My rich point is probably quite moderate, I guess, and for that I am relieved. It saves me a life of striving.
The temptation is to keep reaching for more when you have already surpassed what could have been your real rich point – the point where you have more than enough to make choices and move in the directions you want to move.
I confess, I can easily fall into the endless chase.
I guess that’s why the reins of my heart pulled this prayer from my belly – let my life and path to purpose be uncluttered by my ambitions.
Ambitions can so easily be moulded by mixed motives.
You have nothing to prove. No-one to impress.
You are unique, and your contribution to the world is not measured by everyone else’s idea of how, what, or where you should be.
Having said all this, let me also flip this coin.
Many people are not overly ambitious, they underplay.
They do not realise or accept just how much they bring to the game, and settle for less than is promised.
Paul the apostle urged his followers to lengthen their stride and run for the prize.
“This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13–14 GWORD)
There are prizes for you to obtain in life, ones that will affirm your call and your ability.
How can you lengthen your stride today, knowing that you have a heavenly call that right now is being worked out here on earth?