For the last couple weeks, my wife, Molly, and I have been sharing some thoughts and tips about how to graduate well. In our first post, we talked about spirituality and community after college. In the previous post, Molly shared some lessons learned from moving away from where she went to college, and adjusting to a new town, new community, and new career path. Today, I thought that it would be beneficial to talk about joining the workplace well, how to be productive, and talk about some truths about work.
Life on the B-Team?
One of the most common misconceptions I hear from graduating seniors (and one that I believed for a long while myself) is that you are somehow on the “B-Team” of Christianity if you are not going into a vocational ministry career, or at least a non-profit. It’s easy to believe that ministry is best left to the professionals, and that the people stuck in their “secular jobs” have to be content with just teaching Sunday School or handing out bulletins on Sundays as their work for the Lord. This is simply not true. As sojourners and exiles on the earth, any career that we are placed in is meant to be a means of not only caring for the community, city, and world, but also the people around us every day in our careers. A true spirit of Christian love leads us to work as hard as we can for the good of those around us and for the good of the world. Matt Perman, author of What’s Best Next put it this way:
“Nonministry vocations are the key to the spread of the gospel globally, because our vocations are the chief way that we bring our faith into the world” – (Perman, 2014 p.302)
We should live our lives as Jonathan Edwards put it, “so that the world would be better for our living in it.” Part of this idea is being as productive as possible, whether your job is creative, administrative, managerial, or anything else. Laziness is not an option for the committed Christian. Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, and merciful God we love. We’ve been not only saved, but given purpose from a redemptive, renewing God. (Perman, 2014 p.61). There is nothing that is less attractive to the gospel than knowing that someone is a believer and also knowing that this person sucks at doing their job.
Let’s talk about good works. Many times, people think that good works are things that we do once in a while. Big, flashy things like going to Indonesia on an aid trip, or in proverbial, almost-never-going-to-happen things like helping an old lady across the street. People think “Yeah I’d like to do some good works, maybe I’ll get to it next summer or something.” The truth is, though, that good works exist in the in-and-out rhythms of day to day life like commuting to work and doing good job, loving your spouse and kids, and living well in our communities. Good works are anything we do in faith.
You don’t have to quit your job to have a meaningful life.
God saves us an gives us a reason to walk through the weird wilderness of the modern working world. He also gives us guidance for that journey. We are driven by God’s promises and directed by His purposes.
Truths about Productivity
Also from What’s Best Next
1. Productivity is about effectiveness, not only efficiency (p. 13).
2. Productivity comes from character, not techniques (p.13).
3. We cannot be fully and truly productive in our work and in our life unless all our activity stems from a love for God and the acknowledgement that he is sovereign over all our plans” (p. 14).
4. The only way to be truly productive and it be sustainable is to realize that you don’t have to be productive to please God (p.14)
5. Productivity comes from engagement and motivation, not mere control. We don’t need to militaristically control ourselves or others (p.14)
6. Productivity is about doing good for others to the glory of God (p.14)
7. We become most effective by putting others first (p.15)
8. Basing our peace of mind on our ability to control everything will never work (p.15)
9. Time is like space. You can’t cram more into your life than you can cram in. Stop the illusion of the modern life (p.15)
10. The greatest evidence of productivity comes from intangibles, not tangibles. Cultivate relationships, healthy spiritual and physical life, etc (p.16).
11. Productivity is measured by results, not time working (p.16).
12. Work is hard. This does not mean that it’s bad (p.17).
Develop a personal mission statement
– Who you are
– Why you are here
– Where you are going to end up at the end of all of this
– What are the main principles are by which you guide your life
– Know your overall calling, or vision (at least for right now) and know how it differs from your mission
– Discern roles in your life and know the specific everyday callings and expectations in your life.
– Set goals, and know how to create change at quarterly, yearly, and multiyear steps.
Everything on your to-do list needs to have a “when.” Schedule for the big, important things first, and then fill the gaps with the less important “busywork” things.
Leave yourself room to breathe, but not to rot.
Write everything down in a system that you trust. Don’t trust yourself to remember stuff. Your brain only has so much bandwidth.
Put fun on your calendar. It sounds crazy, but it’s vital.
We’ve been given many tools and help to glorify God in all that we do, make use of resources that will help you enjoy and make much of God. Here’s a few examples:
– ESV Bible App
– Pomodoro Timer