Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think, “Today is going to be different, only to realize that by lunch you have fallen back into those same old ways of relating to people and those same old bad habits.  You feel like there’s a tug of war going on inside of you.  You feel like your life could be summed up in one word – disappointment.  I have tried everything from prayer, to resolutions, to self-help tapes and even hypnosis.  But you end up frustrated because you can’t seem to stop making the same mistakes? 

Have you ever felt that way?  The truth is good intentions are never good enough to change us.  It takes more than just desire to change.  If desire was all you needed to change I’d wear size medium shirts and size 32 waist pants right now but it takes more than desire and it takes more than good intentions to change. 

We get stuck in a cycle that goes like this: Good intentions – Failure – Guilt – Good intentions – Failure – Guilt – Good intentions – Failure – Guilt … and round and round and round the Merry-Go-Round we go!  We can all relate when Paul talks about this in Romans 7:  “I don’t understand myself at all for I really want to do what is right but I don’t do it.  Instead I do the very things I hate.”  He says, “All the things I want to do I end up not doing and all the things I know are wrong I end up doing.  I’m a mess”

If you’ve ever felt that way then you are going to be very thankful you found this blog this week.  This week I am going to share with you a plan that will help you defeat those stubborn, persistent, lifelong temptations that keep dragging you down.  Those struggles that no matter how much you’ve tried to stop, no matter how much you’ve tried to change they just keep coming back and coming back.  And you’ve struggled with them all your life.

The Bible gives us the pathway to freedom but before we look at this five point plan I am going to ask you to prepare the ground of your heart to receive them.  Sometimes we get so used to the Merry-Go-Round that we would rather stay in the cycle than risk what is outside the carnival of pain and slavery.  So today’s assignment is to:

  1. Ask yourself if where you are is where you want to spend the rest of your life.  Most people won’t risk change unless the pain of the present is greater than the fear of change.
  2. Pray that God would empower you to act on what you learn.  The power for change comes from the same One who supplies the power for salvation… God.  You say yes and He says let’s go!
  3. If you know of someone who is trapped in the cycle mentioned above, direct them to this blog this week.  Friends who care share (Hey, that’s pretty good.  I may have to share that again!).

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A third way you can create a significant life is…

3. Look for eternal significance in all you do.
Three brick-workers were asked what they were doing. One said, “I’m laying bricks.” Another said, “I’m making $17.50 an hour.” The third said, “I’m building a cathedral for the glory of God.” All three were doing the same job, yet all three had a different perspective about it.

The key to significance–to living a satisfying life without regrets–is in recognizing the eternal value of the little things you do.

Steve May, a pastor to whom I give much credit to for this series, punctuated this truth. He said a young widow told him “It was about a year after her husband, Tim, had passed away. She and her family were having Thanksgiving Dinner and everyone was saying what they were thankful for. Her 8-year-old son said ‘I’m thankful for the days that Dad went outside and played catch with me.’ The woman said, ‘Tim’s office was at the house. Whenever a client missed an appointment, he would take Michael outside to play catch. He did it to defuse his anger over the client missing a session; he had no idea he was creating a memory that would last a lifetime.’ Then she said, ‘If he had realized how significant it was, I’m sure he would have done it more often.'”

Every day matters, even the mundane, are filled with eternal significance. It may seem to us that we’re just killing time, but we could be strengthening the bond of a relationship. It may appear just small talk to us, but we could be saying something that will change someone’s life forever. We may think we’re just laying bricks, but we could be building a cathedral for the glory of God. Look for meaning in the little things.

We see this principle in the life of Christ again and again. He would be having a meal with a friend and turn it into a life-changing experience. He would be walking along the road with his disciples and see a tree, and teach his disciples a lesson in faith.

Do you want to create a life without regrets? Remember this: There are no throw-away moments. Every day matters. Look for the eternal significance in your work, your words, your relationships, and your actions.

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I am writing this week about how to manage your life in a way that will help you reach your goals and accomplish things that last far beyond your lifetime. Maybe you wasted yesterday—maybe you wasted all your yesterdays—but today is yours. Today you can take charge of today, and begin doing things to ensure that you get the most out of today, and in the process you will make your future what you want it to be. Over the next couple of days I want to humbly offer three things you can do to build a life without regrets. First of all…

1. Make up your mind what kind of person you want to be–and do something today to make it true.

What kind of person do you want to be? If someone were to speak at your funeral, what would you want them to be able to say truthfully about you? What values are most important to you?

As we read the writings of Paul the Apostle, it is obvious that he placed a great deal of importance on consistency and faithfulness. Near the end of his ministry he wrote… “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Earlier in his ministry Paul said… “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” (Acts 20:24)

If you were to ask Paul the question “What do you want to be true about you?” he would most likely say, “I want to be faithful to the very end.” How did he make sure that it happened? He knew what kind of person he wanted to be, and everyday he did something to make it true. That’s why he said… “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Paul is obviously using a metaphor in this verse. The point he is making is in order to be found faithful at the end of his race, he had to be faithful today. He lived everyday like it has eternal significance.

Do you want to live a life of significance? Do something significant today. Do you want to be generous? Give today. Do you want to be known as a kind person? Be kind today. Whatever you want to be true about you, do something today to start making it true. In fact, I would like to give you a little homework assignment to work on this week. Think of the three most important character qualities you would like to develop over the course of your life. For the rest of this week, do at least one thing each day that will move you in the direction of making that character quality a reality in your life.

For example, if you want to be a caring person, then for the next seven days go out of your way to be caring AT LEAST ONCE each day. This seems simple, but it works. People who live lives of significance don’t get there by accident, they get there by effort. The Bible says… “A prudent man gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)

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Who is up for a little journey today? We’re going to a funeral; yours.  I know you’re thinking, “Just what I need on a Monday, to attend my own funeral!”  

As you slip in the back door and take your seat, you see that the altar is covered with flowers, the organ is playing softly, and the church is full of people who have come to bid you farewell.

Four people have been asked to make a few remarks about you. The first is a member of your family. The second is one of your friends. The third is someone you work with. The fourth is someone from church. They’re all going to say a few things about you, but there’s a catch that will make this funeral different from some: everything they say about you will be true.

Now, think for a minute. What would you like each speaker to be able to say about you? What kind of person do you want them to say that you were? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother? What kind of friend or fellow worker? What would you want them to say about your character? Which achievements you would you want them to mention? As you look around at the people who are there, what difference would you like to have made in their lives? What phrases would you like to hear? Maybe…

  • “He was a hard-worker.”
  • “She always had a smile.”
  • “You could depend on him for anything…He never let me down.”
  • “I’ve never met a more honest person.”
  • “She was generous and caring.”

Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that thinking through these questions–deciding what you would want people to say at your funeral–can help you determine your purpose in life. Thinking through these questions will also help you make plans for the future so that you don’t find yourself someday looking back on your life and regret those things you did and didn’t do.

Let me sound a warning today as you plan the rest of your life.  There are two mistakes to avoid. One is to be so future focused that you miss out on the important matters of today. The other is to spend your life living only for today with total disregard for the future. The Bible warns against both. There is, however, a happy medium–a balance that can be achieved. This is it: Live Today Like It Matters For All Eternity–because it does. Each day of our lives has eternal significance. What you do today will make a difference in how you perceive the value of your life when your time on earth is through. What’s more, what you do today will continue to be significant even thousands of years from now.

The Bible says… The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways. (Proverbs 14:8)  I’ve never met a person who says, “I really don’t want my life to count for anything.  I just want to live my life, die, and be forgotten.”  This week I want to think about ways to make our life count; ways to make a positive impact on the world around us. 

Start today working on your eulogy.  I know, I’m weird… but work with me here people.

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 Do you know what the problem is with greed? There is no limit on it! As soon as you reach one level you have to climb to the next rung, and sooner or later you reach the top to find out there is nothing at the top except a long slide down the other side of the ladder. Do you really think that you can find satisfaction in things? The answer is, “No”.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 (NLT)Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth—except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!

Money and desire for stuff can consume us. We have been convinced that happiness is just one more purchase away. Our whole society is based upon that premise, and our marketing is geared towards it.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth. After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

When you and I learn the secret of contentment, it is at that moment we begin to experience true peace in life. To start being content try the following:

  • Make a list of your possessions.
  • Refuse to compare yourself to others.
  • Give away something you value a lot
  • Choose to live on less than you are comfortable with rather than more than you make!
  • Remember – ultimately everything you have is a gift from God!

 I want to illustrate this with a clipping I kept from a 1994 issue of OUR DAILY BREAD:

 Lazy Fisherman

Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.

“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.

“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?’ the rich man asked.

“What would I do with them?”

“You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”

The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?”

“You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.

“What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea.

When you and I learn to be content with what we have we can learn to enjoy what we have. We can enjoy life, our work, our home, and our car, whatever we have.

  • Always be content with WHAT YOU HAVE, but never with WHAT YOU ARE.

To be productive with our lives we have to get to the point where we roll up our sleeves and become difference makers. We are either busy people or busy bodies – the choice is up to each one of us.

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 (NLT)Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people’s business. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we appeal to such people—no, we command them: Settle down and get to work. Earn your own living.

This applies to work, church, family. Have you ever noticed that those who whine to most are often those who do the least? Why is that? Because

  • If you are ROWING the boat you don’t have time to ROCK the boat!

 If you find yourself being critical of others more often than encouraging, then you are probably not working as hard as you could be in the areas that you are responsible for. Start implementing these 5 principle and see what happens!

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Yesterday I began a look at the 5 life principles that seem to guide the lives of successful, productive people based on John The Baptist’s teaching in Luke chapter 3.  Let’s continue with the next two today and wrap it up tomorrow.  I like to break my posts into smaller bite sized pieces because that is the way I personally digest material best.  It is slowly sinking in to me that others are like that also.  My Sunday sermons are getting shorter and shorter.  There is something to the old adage that the mind can only process what the behind can endure.  But I digress!


 If you truly want to be a successful parent, boss, worker, church leader, you have to learn how to handle authority. There is a fine line between arrogance and authority, but the end results of each are miles apart.

A leader who usurps his authority is a dictator. Dictators are followed out of fear or obligation. How well do you function under either of those? You know, I am sure you have worked for one of these kinds of people before. As a matter of fact, many churches are run by boards, a totally unbiblical concept, where the church dictates what the pastor does. Why is this so? Because many people have seen the abuse of power in a church and are unable to trust, or do not want to be hurt again.

A leader who exercises and respects his authority will sacrifice to do what is best for those under his or her care, even if it is unpopular. Jesus set the pattern for this by giving up his life for us.

Luke 22:25-26 (NLT)Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men order their people around, and yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.

 If people only follow you because of your title or authority then you will never be very productive. When I feel I have to do something I am not nearly as productive as when I want to do something. You gain followers and supporters when you learn to serve those you lead.

To be productive you have to be willing to put others first. Why? Because a team is far more valuable than an individual. One man can only do so much, but two can do four times as much!

  • The most DIRECT way to the top is from the BOTTOM.


 Have you ever studied small towns? I love life in a small town! You know, that “Cheers” mentality – “where everybody knows your name”.

I have noticed that almost every town has a Main Street and a Church Street. Almost every small town has a Pizza Place. Not every small town has a paper mill like the one I grew up in but I have noticed that every small town has a rumor mill! Today’s “connected” world has got nothing on the small town rumor mill! Just tell the right person and everyone and their brother knows about it!

Nothing can be as devastating as a rumor mill! If someone wants to get even with someone, or if they want to hurt someone, all they have to do is get the right lie going through the rumor mill and it will be unbearable for the other person. And the first one to do it wins… or so they think.

Now, sometimes it’s not all that malicious. We simply relay what we hear from others without checking out the facts, or we get the facts confused about others. This is just as destructive – whether in the community, workplace or church.

Often we fail to realize what it does to OUR credibility to give false testimony about someone else.

 Proverbs 25:18 (NLT)Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.

If I lie about someone I cut him or her down. If I tell the truth about someone I can build him or her up. I have the power with my words to hurt or to heal, to build up or tear down. If I am going to be productive I have to build up others.

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Have you ever felt like you were getting nowhere in life? Have you ever thought, “If only I had a better boss, a better job, a better home, or a better life? Well, I have learned that it is not what life dishes up that makes the difference; it is how you digest it!

The main difference between productive people and unproductive people is NOT circumstances, nor is it environment – it is excellence in work ethic. If you want to be successful you have to recognize that you cannot rely upon titles or positions. To be successful you have to continually be working to improve and to grow. There is no place in the line of successes for slackers. Good intentions are just that – intentions. To be effective it takes work, it takes effort.

Proverbs 13:4 (NLT)Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper and be satisfied.

When the crowds approached John the Baptist, they wanted to know how to be successful, and John told them what to do.

Luke 3:8-14 (NLT) – Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say, ‘We’re safe—we’re the descendants of Abraham.’ That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham. 9 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” 10 The crowd asked, “What should we do?” 11 John replied, “If you have two coats, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” 12 Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 “Show your honesty,” he replied. “Make sure you collect no more taxes than the Roman government requires you to.” 14 “What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money, and don’t accuse people of things you know they didn’t do. And be content with your pay.”

This is not an all-inclusive list, but if you build these five things into your life you will be much more productive with your life.



 The first principle for being productive in life is to be generous. Give and give and then give some more. Why? Because:

  • Success is not measured by what we POSSESS; it is by what we INVEST in others.

 Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

 Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything.

You can only be successful as you give generously to others.



 Proverbs 11:3 (NLT)Good people are guided by their honesty; treacherous people are destroyed by their dishonesty.

 It can take a lifetime to gain the trust of someone, but only moments to lose that trust. You cannot be successful if people do not trust you.

  • If you are in sales and someone does not trust you… (you are a used car salesman, right?) how successful will you be?
  • How successful would I be as a pastor if I lied to you and cheated? I would be a mockery and an excuse for people to avoid church.

 Luke 16:10-12 (NLT)“Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s money, why should you be trusted with money of your own?

Honesty is an integrity issue, and you cannot be productive without integrity. When you are honest with people then you gain their trust and their respect. When you are honest with God you gain His trust and blessing.

Proverbs 11:1 (NLT)The Lord hates cheating, but he delights in honesty.

You will not be productive if you are not honest.

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