work, and the relationship between productivity and joy

DSC_1145Tuesday lunchtime I met my friend Tim for a sandwich in downtown Wake Forest. We were getting together at noon-thirty, so I planned to stop work at 12:15. It had been a fairly good writing morning, but I was getting a little bogged down and beginning to spin my wheels. So, instead of pushing it hard, pressuring myself to be more productive, then rushing to lunch, I stopped work at noon and walked the mile into town.

It’s been a wet week, so the air was thick and the trees drippy. But the temperature was down and I wasn’t in a hurry; I slowed my pace, drank deeply of the moist air, and fairly sauntered through our pleasant neighborhood then past the old homes on South Main.

“You walked, didn’t you?” Tim said when he arrived – I was relaxing on the sidewalk “street sofa” outside Over the Falls Deli. “Absolutely,” I replied, “it’s a serenity thing.”

WORK: I honestly believe that productivity and joy are closely related.

  • JOY: When I say “joy” what I mean is that refreshing rush of meaning that comes when our lives slip into the proper rhythm, when we feel in synch with the foundational cadence of the universe, when our spirits shudder a little in glad reunion with purpose, when who we are, and what we are about, rings true, when what prompts our gladness is real, and deep, and connected to the Spirit of God.
  • PRODUCTIVITY: And when I say “productivity,” I mean when what we are doing does more than complete a job, but adds meaning to the world; when we honor the image of Creator God in the creativity we apply to our task; when what we do – from writing, to washing dishes, to running a meeting, to consulting with a client – points to the ideal that God can animate every aspect of our every day.

I don’t believe that productivity is possible in its best sense without joy, and I am certain that productivity, in turn, leads to the experience of joy.

SERENITY: That’s why I have learned to disengage myself from work when it is not a joyful experience. That’s why walking to lunch, and talking the time to realign my spirit, did more for my productivity yesterday than extra time knuckled down at the keyboard.

Lunch with my friend, too, is both an experience of and a move toward, joy. We talked about work, about spiritual things, about the paths God is calling us to journey, about our families, and about our hopes and dreams.

We must find our balance if we are going to contribute anything of value to the world God is calling each one of us to serve. Whole people are not only happier in their work, they are more productive too.

THE HEART OF GOD’S WORD: This principle resides at the heart of the teachings of the Bible. In Deuteronomy 6 we find the following call to balance our soul, our mind, and our body: “Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.”

Jesus affirms the idea in Mark 12, when he was challenged to pick the “greatest” commandment. “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

IMG_1364Fact is, we’re neglecting our most potent resource if we don’t invite God into our work. Joy and productivity – inescapably bound together.

Something to think about – DEREK

9 thoughts on “work, and the relationship between productivity and joy

  1. Derek,

    What an amazing post! I can feel your joy in your writings and it inspires me to be a better Christian. I enjoy your posts, and am wondering when your latest book will be out?

    Thank you,
    Aaron V. Lopez

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your recent posts have reminded me of the Hebrew notion of Shallom as rooted in Genesis. Shallom is not merely “peace” – but being in a right relationship – and it has three components: 1) right relationship with God, 2) right relationship with the people in our lives, and 3) right relationship with creation – which is expressed through work.

    Like

  3. ” . . .that refreshing rush of meaning that comes when our lives slip into the proper rhythm, when we feel in synch with the foundational cadence of the universe, when our spirits shudder a little in glad reunion with purpose, when who we are, and what we are about, rings true, . . .:, So beautifully spoken and speaks to my heart.

    Like

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