Hi, I’m Verge Ascabano.
So you want to be productive? Do you want to accomplish a lot of things? Do you want to make the most of your time?
But the question is not so much about HOW you will be able to accomplish them. The question really is, “WHY?”
Why do you want to accomplish those things in the first place?
Why are you starting that business? What’s your purpose?
Why do you need to submit your school requirements this week? Why are you in school in the first place?
Why do you want to earn your target income? What is that money for?
Why do you want to accomplish your ministry goals this week? What is your purpose for doing ministry work?
Why do you want to evangelize your target number of people? What is your purpose for reaching out to people?
What is it that you really want to accomplish?
Who are you really working for?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Matthew 6:24 NIV
You gave your life to Jesus. He deserves to be your master and no one (and nothing) else–not money, your family, your job, your boss, your business, your ministry, your church, your religion, your country, your ideology, or anything else. Not even yourself.
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. We cannot bear fruits apart from him.
We need to ask ourselves, “Are we trying to produce fruits on our own? Or are we relying on the vine, holding on to Jesus so we can bear fruits?”
Surrender your goals to Jesus. All your desires and aspirations. Lay them all down at his feet. Deny yourself and take up your cross daily.
Before you think about how you can accomplish your goals, ask yourself: “Why am I pursuing these things? What does God want me to do?”
To be productive is to be fully given to God’s purpose and God’s plan. You’re no longer after your own plans. Your main concern is to follow God and pursue his purpose for your life. It’s all about the eternal purpose of God.
God’s ways are not always logical.
Logic can be an idol. So don’t trust in logic. Trust in the Lord instead. Even when he seems to be illogical.
Logic is all about trusting in reason. But FAITH is all about trusting in God, even when it’s not reasonable.
How do you trust in God?
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Romans 10:17 ESV
The more you hear God’s word, the more FAITH is developed in you.
What we need is to develop our sense of faith. In the same way that we have our five senses (sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste), we also have our sense of faith. When you see an object, you know it exists simply because you see it. When you “sense” it by faith, you know it is true because God says it.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV
We no longer live by our physical senses, putting our trust in logic and reason. But by faith, we hear God’s voice and take action based on what he says because we know God’s word is true.
Here is an audio recording of John 15:1-16 I created with some instrumental worship music in the background. I hope listening to this audio recording helps you build your faith as you listen to God’s word.
Listen to God’s word.
Walk by faith.
I made a commitment to myself at the start of this year to publish a blog post every Tuesday. I thought that that was a great way for me to hone my writing skills and serve my audience at the same time.
The first few weeks were great and I was consistent in publishing an article every Tuesday. But then on the eighth week, I missed my publishing schedule but still managed to release a post that same week. Then the following week, I missed the Tuesday release again. I tried to catch up and I was able to publish Friday of that same week. But then the following week, I completely failed to publish any article.
So what went wrong? What kept me from sticking with my commitment for three consecutive weeks?
I have been pondering why I had been procrastinating about writing my blog and I think I have discovered the main culprit.
I believe FEAR is the greatest enemy of FRUITFULNESS.
I have noticed that I would always find a reason to postpone my writing task until it’s already the last minute. Here are some of the ways I procrastinate:
- I drown myself in distractions. I watch videos on Youtube, scroll endlessly on Facebook, listen to podcasts, or read various books.
- I tell myself that I’m overwhelmed with the other tasks I need to do that week.
- I feel too lazy to write.
- I feel like I need to do more important tasks first before I can get back on my writing.
Why do I keep on avoiding the task of writing until it’s already the last minute? I have figured out that the main reason I procrastinate is FEAR.
I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid I won’t be able to write the perfect article. I’m afraid that my writing will turn out to be rubbish. And because of my fear, I would rather do something else than face the agony of trying to do something that might lead to failure.
Facing my fear of failure is very painful to me emotionally. It stresses me out even just thinking about it. To avoid the pain, I instead turn to pleasure. I drown out the pain by watching videos, reading books, and distracting myself with other things to escape the struggle for productivity.
How can I combat fear?
Here are two things I plan on doing to fight against the fear of failure:
1. Set a real deadline for the task. The deadline has to be clear and specific. Instead of saying, “I need to publish a blog post every Tuesday”, I must say “I need to publish my blog post by 10 am every Tuesday.
I realized that I haven’t set a specific time for my deadline because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it on my set time.
Making my deadline clear and specific will help me follow through on my commitment. Not having a specific time for my deadline could easily lead me to postpone it.
2. Take action. Faith is the antidote to fear. And faith is all about taking action.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
Faith is substance and evidence, therefore, it is tangible. It starts from the inside as a belief and is expressed in action as the substance of that belief.
In my case, I need to believe that I can write something worth publishing. I must believe that God will always help me serve my audience through writing. I need to abolish my false beliefs using the truth of God’s word.
There will always be a possibility that I won’t be able to write the best article or that some people might not like it. But this should not stop me from serving through writing.
I am writing this very article right now because I believe God has given me a gift of communication and he has given me some insights that can help my readers in their journey towards fruitfulness. It will be a disservice to you, my reader, if I don’t put this article out.
I am also writing this on a more specific deadline. I only have a few minutes left before I hit “publish”.
I hope you’ve gained some useful insights from these reflections of mine that will also help you fight against procrastination.
“Hi, Branch. What are you doing there all alone? I have been looking for you,” said the vine to the branch.
“Oh, hello Vine. I’m sorry if I kept you looking,” the branch replied sounding a bit embarrassed. “Well, I was just trying to make some improvements on myself. I just want to bear more fruits just like the others.”
“So how is it going? How’s your progress so far?” Vine asked.
Branch answered, “Well, I think I’m doing okay. There are things that I’m getting better at. But I think there’s something wrong with me. Why can’t I bear more fruits just like the others? Why can’t I be more perfect like you?“
“Oh, I see,” Vine replied. “While I appreciate your desire to become more like me, what makes you think you can do it while being detached from me?”
“I’m so sorry,” the branch said. “I’m too ashamed to go near you because you’re too perfect. I feel like I need to take care of my messes and imperfections first so I can be worthy of being associated with you.”
“My dear Branch, you have always been a part of me and will always be no matter how imperfect you may be. Look at the other branches connected to me. Aren’t they still full of blemishes and flaws? But notice how fruitful they are even if they’re not perfect.”
“Oh, I didn’t notice that,” said the branch.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10 ESV)
You may be having a not so ideal week but that doesn’t stop you from being fruitful.
Just remember to cling to the vine.
Cheers to an imperfect yet productive week!
I failed in publishing my blog post on time this week.
Does this mean that I have become unproductive?
I’m not making any excuses for why I wasn’t able to publish a post last Tuesday. I simply failed in my weekly commitment and I take full responsibility for that. I know I can do better next time.
I know I was unproductive in the area of blogging this week but in my family, I wasn’t. I took care of our son, Zion at the hospital and I know I spent my time well with my family despite not being able to meet my blogging deadline.
Now I have time to write this blog post so I’m catching up on my weekly commitment. This may be a few days late but as they say, better late than never.
What I have learned this week is that you can still be productive despite your failures. Actually, the only way to fruitfulness is by failing. The only way to live a productive life is by dying to yourself.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
JOHN 12:24 NIV
It is in our weakness that God is glorified. It is in our failure that God makes us fruitful.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
GALATIANS 2:20 NIV
God’s approach to productivity is counterintuitive. This is usually the way of the Kingdom. The way up is the way down. It’s an upside-down kingdom.
Jesus, although divine, lived as a hundred percent human here on earth. He did not rely on his superhuman strength as a divine being but instead relied on the strength of the Father living inside of him.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
JOHN 5:19 NIV
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
JOHN 6:57 KJV
The only way to be fruitful is to live this life by the indwelling life of God in us. What we need is to be filled with God more, not more productivity strategies and tactics. And the way to be filled with the Spirit is to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature, our flesh.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
ROMANS 8:12-13 NASB
Here are some steps you can do right now to practice living in the Spirit. Don’t worry, this will only take around 10 minutes to practice:
- Call on the name of Jesus and ask for his help.
Admit that you can’t live this life without him. Say something like this: “I need you Jesus. I need your wisdom and guidance.” Do this for around 1 to 2 minutes.
- Ask God who to serve.
- Write in your journal or on your favorite notes app the following: “Who do you want me to serve today, God?”
- Listen to what God says and take note of the persons that come across your mind. Ask God and confirm with him whether that is the person you should serve today. List 1 to 3 names.
- Ask God how you can serve these people.
It may be as simple as praying for them or helping them with something.
Practice these steps at the start of each day and see how God enables you to become fruitful every day.
I give up.
I simply couldn’t keep running at the same pace as this expert runner. I might as well do it without him and run at my comfortable pace.
The only problem is I don’t know the way to the finish line.
Life feels like this most of the time. You keep doing things your way and at your comfortable pace. But without the help of an expert, it’s impossible to finish complicated tasks.
On the other hand, it can get too tiring and burdensome trying to keep up with the pace of an expert. It’s impossible to follow every step of the expert without him slowing things down for your sake.
The good thing is, there is another way.
There is an expert who knows the way to the finish line but is humble and gentle at the same time. He slows things down for you so you can follow and he doesn’t leave you behind. He speeds things up at times but just enough to keep you challenged and make you grow.
Read Matthew 11:28-30 and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
How do you measure productivity?
I have one major task for today and that is to publish this blog post. Do I consider it a success once I publish this article? Does this make me productive?
Productivity is not measured by the number of tasks you have done or the number of projects you have accomplished. The best way to measure your productivity is by answering this question: “How well have I served today?”
I have learned that the best way to stay productive is not to obsess over my results. The fruits are not my focus. The branch bears fruit when it is connected to the vine. In the same way, I bear much fruit when I stay connected to Jesus.
My focus, therefore, is not to count my fruits but to stay connected to Jesus.
Jesus says in John 15 that we need to remain in his love. And we stay in his love when we keep his commands. And what is his command? Love each other as Jesus has loved us.
Therefore, we will remain in Jesus when we love one another as Christ loved us. And we give the most extraordinary kind of love when we lay down our life for a friend.
The key to productivity is to remain in Christ. And the way to remain in Christ is by loving one another to the point of giving your life for a friend.
Let me give you some questions to help you assess your fruitfulness:
- Who did you serve today?
- What kind of service did you do to that person?
- How much did it hurt you to serve that person?
I hope that these assessment questions will help you not just measure your success but keep your focus on serving and loving others as Christ did to you.
I have a challenge for you.
Can you think of a person who will benefit much from reading this blog post?
Why don’t you serve that person right now and forward this article to him?
If you did that then you’re on your way to greater productivity in life. Congratulations!
I almost missed my blog post release today.
I was too busy for the past few days that I didn’t have time to write my article. I needed time to rest after a hectic week.
May this be a reminder to you that you need rhythms of rest in your weekly schedule:
- Give yourself permission to rest
- Make time for one whole day of rest in your weekly schedule
- Enjoy your rest day and don’t be guilty about not doing any “productive” work that day
- Make sure you minimize exposure to social media and other distractions on your rest day
How do you spend your rest day?
Distractions like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok are some of the greatest enemies of productivity. It’s easier to mindlessly scroll through Facebook than to finish your most important task for the day. It’s easier to laugh at those funny TikTok videos than to finish writing your article.
I have tried many different ways and strategies to minimize distractions on my mobile phone but none of them seemed to work for me. I want to share with you this app that helped me minimize my social media addiction. It’s called One Sec.
One Sec is a mobile phone app that helps you delay distracting apps and websites. Basically, it forces you to take a deep breath and helps you ask if you really want to open the potential time-wasting app (like TikTok or Facebook) before jumping in.
This is how it works according to its website: “One Sec works so great because it doesn’t forbid you to use apps and websites. It makes it more annoying. That way you’ll effortlessly change your habits.”
Here are 3 things One Sec has helped me with:
1. Fight against social media addiction.
By forcing me to pause for about 10 seconds before opening any social media app, it has helped me become more aware of my social media addiction. I didn’t realize I was mindlessly opening Facebook app on my phone until One Sec stopped me in my tracks.
2. Recover lost time from distractions.
This app has already helped me save 12.2 hours away from distractions in the last month I have been using it.
3. Establish a healthy relationship with social media.
By helping me become more mindful of my social media habits, I am now more purposeful in using social media apps. I no longer find myself opening Facebook automatically. I only use it now if I have a purpose.
You may want to try using the app for free so you can see it for yourself. Download it now and start redeeming lost time from distractions.
Wishing you a fruitful and successful week ahead!
And, oh, you’re welcome!
I’ve always thought productivity is all about strategies and tactics. If I could just master the latest tips and tricks then I can be very efficient in my work and maximize my full potential. If I could just minimize all distractions, then I can be more fruitful.
Although these things may help in your productivity, what I have learned to be the most effective path towards productivity is this: confessing that you don’t know anything.
Proverbs 4:7 says, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
If you want wisdom in your life, you need to start by confessing your need for it. If you want to be more productive, then you must start by confessing that you don’t know how.
I think Aristotle said, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”
The apostle Paul also said, “Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.” (1 Corinthians 8:2 NLT)
The key to productivity is to know that you won’t be able to make it without God’s help. Your knowledge and human understanding are not enough. What you need is divine revelation.
We need to pray the prayer of Paul for the church in Ephesus. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19a)
No one knows productivity better than God himself. He is the one who created all the trees that bear fruits. He is the one who created us with the capacity to multiply and bear fruits.
Jesus said it best when he talked about the vine and the branches. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)
The key to fruitfulness is to remain in Christ. Our productivity depends on how we as the branches remain in Christ as the vine.
Here are some insights we can learn from the vine:
- The branch gets its nutrients from the vine.
Our source of life is God himself. We cannot produce fruits apart from the life that comes from Him. True productivity comes from Him and is sustained only by Him.
- A branch that is detached from the vine cannot produce fruits.
The greatest enemy of productivity is self-reliance. When you think you know all the answers and you think you can do it by your strength, then you are no longer dependent on God. You are now detached from the vine and you cannot produce real fruits.
- A branch that is connected to the vine cannot have a will of its own.
You cannot remain in Christ and still have your way of doing things. To remain in Christ is to do his will and to keep his commands.
It takes humility to admit that you don’t know it all. It takes brokenness to say that you need God. If you want to walk in fruitfulness, start by saying, “I really don’t know anything.”