How do we go about daily executing the tasks that are in front of us? Obviously, we need to plan and prioritize. If not, we lose focus and other things will set our agenda for the day. We generally want to do things that make a difference, but if we don’t put first things first, our time can get away from us as the trivial things take center stage.
The question we need to ask ourselves, however, is what are those areas we need to place first? I think the answer is fairly simple. It’s people.
In Matt Perman’s book, What’s Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done, he writes that in regards to the daily execution of tasks, we need to ask ourselves in everything we do: How can I build others up? For Perman, this brings us back to the fundamental principle behind everything: You are here to do good for others, to the glory of God.
All productivity practices, writes Perman, all of our work, everything is given to us by God for the purpose of serving others. Therefore, we need to be deliberate about this in all of our work–both the work we get paid for and the work of running our households. This means not simply doing the things we do for the sake of others; it means building others up in the very act of doing what we do. The aim needs to be not simply to get our tasks done but to build people up in the accomplishing of our tasks.
For me, this reorientates why we do what we do. We send emails, go to meetings, answer phones, wash dishes, wait tables, cook food, give presentations, design buildings, teach children, stock groceries, clean houses, diagnose diseases, write news stories, drive buses and more for the building up of others.
We need to remember that our job is bigger than the tasks we perform. Perman writes that we need to see our day “in terms of people and relationships first, not tasks. Tasks matter and are important and fun, but tasks have to take a back seat to people.”
I think there is always a tendency to view people as getting in the way of what we are trying to do. We are busy and important people, or so we think, and tend to lose sight of what it is we are really trying to do. Jesus told us to love God and love others. Pretty simple. Well, maybe not that simple. But Jesus words do help us to refocus what it means to be truly productive people.