Redeeming Productivity

The Idol of Competence

Published 4 months ago • 5 min read

Issue #152

Your weekly roundup of insights and resources to help you get more done for the glory of God.

Read on the Web

In Today’s Issue:

  • When Productivity Becomes a Drug
  • Finding Time to Read
  • Loving God & Your Job?
  • We're All Sellouts Now
  • Book: A Call to Contentment

Dear steward,

A few years back, the Lord opened my eyes to how I was using "productivity" as a mask for a deeper heart issue.

And over the past three years of interacting with members of our Academy, I've realized just how common this is among those interested in productivity.

I'm talking about the idol of competence. It's a flavor of the fear of man that has you obsessing over whether people judge you as capable or not.

I wholeheartedly believe productivity is something Christians should pursue. We want to lead fruitful lives for the glory of God. But motives matter. And as I write in this week's article, "When you idolize competence, productivity becomes a drug."

You can watch, read, or listen to this week's essay in which I dive into this issue and how to address it. It's called "The Idol of Competence."


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The best links I found this week

6 Ways to Find (and Protect) the Time You Need to Read Books (5 mins)

Tony Reinke / Crossway

I really enjoyed this from Tony Reinke.

You don’t need to be a professional book reviewer to read a lot of books. And you don’t need to be brilliant either. But you do need to be purposeful and consistent. And if you can discipline yourself, you will find the time you need to read.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways:

1. It's a battle.

"Our spirit may be eager to read a book, but our flesh is weak. Our flesh would rather self-indulge on passive entertainment."

It's always going to be easier to choose lower-quality leisure activities. Acknowledging that it's hard helps you muster up the determination to choose the harder path because it's a better path.

“The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

C.S. Lewis,

2. You have a LOT of leisure time.

Modern life affords us a stunning amount of leisure time, but we invest it poorly. If we value reading, we've got to make time for it.

This goes to the point I made a couple of weeks ago: we need to redeem our free time. And as Reinke points out, making time for reading very likely means you'll need to stop doing something else.

3. Have a plan.

Reinke talks about both book selection and setting your reading priorities. This is all part of creating a reading plan.

For more tips on becoming a better reader, check out my video, 8 Tips for Becoming a Better Reader. And here I share a few tips of my own for reading more books in a year.

Can You Love God and Your Job? (8 mins)

Bill Hendricks / DTS Voice

I think you'll find this encouraging.

Here’s the best thing of all: when someone uses the best of their giftedness to love God and love other people, they end up loving their work. They experience tremendous satisfaction and fulfillment from their efforts. They’re doing the thing God created them to do, and like Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire, when they do it they “feel God’s pleasure.”

H/T to Jacob Abshire's Creative Disciple newsletter for digging this one up.

Everyone's a sellout now (14 mins)

Rebecca Jennings / Vox

There's a lot I disagree with in this piece. But I thought it did a good job describing what it feels like to be an artist or writer in the online creator economy.

"Authors are writing these incredible books, and yet when they ask me questions, the thing that keeps them up at night is, ‘How do I create this brand?’” says literary agent Carly Watters. It’s not that they want to be spending their time doing it, it’s that they feel they have to. “I think that millennials and Gen Xers really feel like sellouts. It’s not what they imagined their career to look like. It inherently feels wrong with their value system."

These feelings are felt even more acutely by Christians in these worlds.

I talk to a lot of other believers who are creating things online or writing books, and feeling like a sellout is incredibly common. Despite the realities of bills to pay and the instructions of the New Testament concerning these matters (1 Timothy 5:18), asking for donations to your ministry, telling people about your book, or even just using social media can still feel gross and self-promoting. And while these things can be done poorly, they are not inherently wrong.

Two books I would commend to you if you're in ministry of any kind or even a Christian business owner struggling with these things are The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn and Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem. Both have helped me tremendously.


On Redeeming Productivity

The Idol of Competence (6 mins)

When you idolize competence, productivity becomes a drug.


A Call to Contentment

I've often joked that contentment is the ultimate life hack. Too often, we seek to improve our lives by rearranging the externals instead of focusing on the internal. In Christ, you can be satisfied regardless of your circumstances. But contentment must be fought for.

David Kaywood has written a wonderful new book on the practice of Christian contentment. I had the privilege of reading a pre-release and writing an endorsement.

Here's what I had to say about the book:

Convicting and practical! A Call to Contentment shines the light of Scripture on our generation's besetting sin, exposing the many ways we become ensnared by discontentment and helping readers to understand, apply, and cultivate that sweet and precious attitude of Christ-honoring contentment regardless of life's circumstances.

A Call to Contentment comes out on March 12th. But you can pre-order it right now.



Quote of the Week

"Now" is the watchword of the wise.

Charles Spurgeon


Thanks for reading!

That's all for this week. If you want to chat about anything in this newsletter or want to say hi, you can just hit reply.

Until next week!

Reagan Rose

Reagan Rose

I talk about personal productivity from a Christian perspective. Creator of ​Redeeming Productivity​.

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