Feeding the Idol of Productivity

With the news media constantly discussing the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I began to wonder what “addictions” are subtly gnawing away at our lives. Then this past Monday, I discovered a new idol taking up residence in my life. Like the giant plant in Little Shop of Horror’s its started small but its insatiable appetiate has caused it to grow as it screams “Feed Me, Seymour. Feed Me.” That idol I am constantly trying to feed is the idol of productivity.

I was meeting with a couple discussing the steps necessary to start a new church, when they asked a very simple question about practically how do you start a church. I then launched into a description of my day up to that lunch meeting…an early one mind you.

I had spent 45 minutes doing “contact work,” had coffee with an elder who had planted a church before, contacted a Trailblazer about setting up bank accounts, and another about laying out worship bulletins, written 2 blogs for our newsletter, and was meeting with this couple to discuss our mission and vision for this church.

As I listed through my morning activities, I realized how “productive” I had been and a smile crept across my face. For internally I had felt like I had not done much that morning. Last fall that would have been a busy day, but by noon this level of productivity no longer was enough for my hungering soul. This is one of the challenges of having a home office–there are no clear boundaries between work and home. As a minister, those boundaries are consistently blurred as (my old terms of call used to state) “I am paid to be free to live the Christian life.” Yet, my worth and value had felt threatened because I did not think I was doing enough. That is the insatiable hunger of our idols of productivity.

The world is always going to demand more of our attention. As our efficiency grows, we no longer live with any margin of time in our days.

With our iphones at our hips, we feel that if are not producing constantly or engaging the world then our self-worth is threatened. Like a drug used to numb pain, we turn towards the drug of productivity to keep our endorphins rushing and value satiated.

I wish this blog had something redemptive. Some word of transformation where God illumined how I could lay down this idol. Yet that has not merged yet, as I scratch out this idea on napkins at Barnes and Noble and then type it up while watching my boys at Monkey Joes.

How have you identified your idol of productivity? How did you stop feeding it, while still being active in your mission?

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