For years, I felt guilt whenever my days weren’t productive. But now, my perspective has changed, largely because I don’t think Jesus was productive at all.
My thoughts on productivity first changed when I was stuck in a busy routine.
When I tried to squeeze the most amount of work out of my days, I noticed an odd thing happen over time: I was missing out on what life looked like outside my work. In other words, my life became my work.
I don’t think we were created to be working creatures. We were created to rest more than anything. But our culture has prioritized work, so much so that we feel guilt when we’re not doing it at the speed we ought to be.
After some time, I realized I was a product of this culture.
I was fast moving, drinking 4 cups of coffee a day, and thinking about what work I was going to do even when I was resting.
This type of life can take a toll on us.
We can miss the meaning of life trying to break through the tiny gaps in our schedule.
Yet, working like this is how we define productivity. If you ask any employer what being productive means to them, they would respond that productivity is about getting the most amount of work done.
If this is true, then I don’t think Jesus was productive at all.
In my rush of life, I paused to consider Jesus’ work, only to see that He wasn’t so much focused on fulfilling a quota for the day. He wasn’t trying to get the most amounts of healings in or preach to a specific amount of people.
Jesus was focused on getting the most important things done, not getting the most amount of stuff done.
Instead of rushing through a schedule or task-list, He was constantly present, only doing the work that allowed His message to succeed in the world.
In many ways, Jesus lived a simple life. By that, I don’t mean to say that His mission was at all easy. I mean that the way He went about His life, His ministry, and His work was simplified, slow, methodic, and inspiring. It is because Jesus lived in this way that He was effective with His message.
I believe we can live simple lives as well. We can choose to minimize our schedules, choose to live in the present rather than the future, and choose to take in the small wonders of life—like time with family and friends around the dinner table.
This only becomes possible when we stop aiming to be productive. Instead, aim to be present. Aim to get done only what you need to. It’ll prove for a more meaningful life.
Photography by Mikaela Hamilton