Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Productivity

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have said and heard these words: "I got so many things done; I had such a productive day!"

Sometimes, I really believe the language we use needs a serious reality check.
Is this our term of measurement for how much we matter?
Is this what life is really about? 
Do, do, and more do. What a crappy way to live! (Yes, it was intended. You knew that already, didn't you?)
This kind of language is marginalizing.
Its message, simply stated, is that your worth is tied directly to what you are able to produce.
We live in a time that values production over human life! Prices over people!
And apparently, accomplishing "things" is the only road to dignity. 
Do you feel the eyes of that invisible taskmaster, ever watching your back?
Does that inner voice shout that you are LAZY if you do not do that one. more. thing!

Consider for a moment the implications of applying this attitude universally.

What if it was the rule for everyone?
Where would that leave the disabled, the less-abled, the elderly, the unemployed, the underprivileged?
Either we are all a bunch of worker bees who deserve what we get, no more and no less, OR, there is a bigger picture and a bigger conversation to be had.
Some of us can't.
We try!
We try so much doggone harder than average, beating ourselves mentally for not being up to standards.
We wear our purple participation ribbons with pride, because that is ALL we ever get for our sweat and tears and bringing up the rear. Sure, we worked as hard as everyone else; tried as hard.
We just didn't measure up to the fittest, so we didn't "really" count.

Why are the poor, the homeless, the chronically ill, anyone a little too different, treated with an air of "if you just tried harder you could be better?" Which eventually turns into a whine of "you aren't even trying at all!" To outrage, "What's mine is mine; I earned it, and you don't deserve any handouts!"
Don't you see?
Life is not a stupid game of Monopoly or, heh, Life. And don't say there is such a thing as a fun game of the aforementioned. I am convinced that it doesn't exist to the point that I refuse to ever play either of those games ever again. ;) Call me a bad sport. I just don't have the heart to be ruthless and gloat over my "lucky" timing, calling it "success." And I will not be satisfied with, "Congratulations, you're a millionaire. Go live in your mansion. The end." (Said in my best "Vanessa" voice.) (Sorry, Phineas & Ferb fan here.)
The beginning of compassion comes when we recognize that the "rules" don't account for the brokenness we are surrounded by. There is no way to "play fair" because we are all starting with different advantages/disadvantages.
(If you are reading this blog, you have two or three of those advantages.)
Can you see already how the worth=productivity is unsustainable?
We are called to live differently. Not in a way that conforms to the pattern of "up by your bootstraps," but in a painfully different kind of way that doesn't make sense to our pocketbooks or our bellies our our vanity or sometimes even, our family and friends.

A way that breathes life and action into the stillness of a sleeping tribe. A way that brings thirst-quenching water into the driest of desert wanderings.
A way like Jesus' way. The One who gave bread and fish to the five thousand, even though they never did anything to earn it. He blessed it, multiplied it, and had it distributed without conditions. Life giving abundance, with leftovers!
It didn't matter whether the crowds who followed Jesus had led a productive day. It mattered that they were hungry.
It mattered not to Mary that she help her sister be productive, for she was being fed the Bread of life!
"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:26 (NKJV)
You are made in God's image and YOU MATTER! Not maybe, probably, but absolutely most definitely!
You have worth because you ARE. Not because you DO.
Every life has a meaning; a purpose. There are no "throw-aways," none "wasted."

Your worth is tied to your humanity, not to your productivity.
Not a number. Not a cog in the wheel of well-oiled machinery. Not a nameless and faceless statistic.

You are loved. Planned. Purposed. Important. Because you are alive!
Please cling to that on your very best and worst days. And the blah ones, too.
Yes, you.


  1. I've just been thinking about this, especially in terms of the mashup between productivity mindset and parenthood. You can't ever "accomplish" parenthood, your kids are never done! Thanks for the message.

  2. Whoa. Yes! You found my blind spot! I was just bemoaning today on how little results I get out of teaching my children, after endless days of breaking up their petty squabbles. So it's about faithfulness in being "Mom" for them, not in how much they "get it right." Thank you for this insight!


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