Verse of the Day

"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."

~John 15:5

Today's Devotional Thought

June 09, 2014 by Rachel Piferi


Six Things Highly Fruitful People Do Every Day

I read a fascinating article recently on The Business Insider that I just had to share with you. And, I want to share it with a slight tweak! This article was titled, "6 Subtle Things Highly Productive People Do Every Day." I highly recommend you read it and it can be found here.

The article reviews 6 things, based on research, that people who are productive do each day to set themselves up to be successful in life. The article is based on secular research and really does provide a good overview of things we all could do in our day to have more productive days.

As I read the six things, I couldn't help but think about Scripture that aligned with each point the author was making. The article itself was written from a secular perspective, but there was so much good advice in it that could be used for being productive for Christ too! I thought about the concept of productivity and how we have a tendency to view it as a worldly thing, but it really isn't. God wants us to be highly productive. He didn't call it "success," but rather he called it fruitfulness. In fact, in John 15, Jesus said, "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing" (v. 5).

Did you catch what he said in the middle there?

Those who abide in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit!

Jesus wants you to be productive, successful, accomplished. But he doesn't want you to be successful as the world sees it, he wants you to be successful for him. To produce much fruit for him.

So how do we do it?

I think these six things that highly productive CEOs and athletes and business professionals do align beautifully with Scripture and can help us produce much fruit too. Let me show you how...

1. Mood.
The first thing that this article reports that highly productive people do is manage their moods. We know from research that negative moods like anxiety and sadness and fear can interfere with our motivation and drive to accomplish things. And, productive people manage their negative moods so that they focus on positive things and keep negative moods at bay. One way to do this is by managing your mood early in the day. The author writes, "If you start the day calm, it's easy to get the right things done and focus." The author goes on to quote Tim who says that one way he manages his mood is by having an early morning routine that sets his mood: "I try to have the first 80 to 90 minutes of my day vary as little as possible. I think that a routine is necessary to feel in control and nonreactive, which reduces anxiety. It therefore makes you more productive."

This type of early morning routine is exactly why Wendy & I constantly talk about the importance of a morning quiet time. The best way to start your day well is quiet time with Jesus. There is simply no better way to regulate your mood then by filling up with God's Word.

Paul also gives advice on how to manage our moods by focusing on good things & things that are eternal, and not on things of this world. In Philippians 4:8, Paul says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." He goes on in verse 9 to say, "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

The God of peace.

He is the best mood stabilizer. And starting his day in His Word and allowing him to permeate your thoughts throughout your day is the best way to manage your mood. And as we read in this article about productive people, being fruitful begins with your mood.

As you look at the beginning of your day, do you have things that affect your mood negatively? Consider modifying your routine so that the beginning of your day is filled with God and things that positively affect your mood.

2. Don't Check Email in the Morning.
After discussing the importance of managing moods, the author goes on to discuss one way we can do that. Obviously, as we have already discussed, one way is to have a morning quiet time and to start the day with the Lord & letting him set the tone for our day. Another important point is the second thing that highly productive people do: they don't check email in the morning. In fact, the author discusses how many of us are tempted to check email or jump on social media first thing in the morning. In addition to possibly affecting our mood, doing this sets you up to be a reactor to whatever is on your computer screen and allowing what is on that screen determine how your time is spent early, rather than letting God determine how it is spent.

How many of us have jumped on email first thing in the morning or checked into Facebook only to find out something that begins to pre-occupy our mind and our time. Before even filling ourselves up with Jesus, we are filling ourselves up with the world. And before we know it, our mood is affected, our minds are distracted, and any plans we had for the day are temporarily waylaid.

Obviously, we need to check email or other forms of communication throughout the day, but please be mindful of how it can affect our mood and turn our focus away from what God may be telling us to do. As stated above, it is always preferable to start our days with Jesus and let him set our mood and set our agenda for the day. Allow yourself email and social media time, but do not allow it to dictate your mood or your agenda for that day. Engage with it only after you have spent time with Jesus.

I love Psalm 5:3: "In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay requests before you and wait expectantly." And Psalm 143:8 says it beautifully, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life."

Before email tells you what to do or social media introduces things to you, you need to spend time with Jesus and his unfailing love and allow him to show you the way to go that day. Instead of reacting to what may be in your inbox, start each day with full purpose based on Jesus' unfailing love.

3. Before you try to do it faster, ask whether it should be done at all.
I love this point because I think we all are a little overcommitted because we have said yes to things that we never should have. Unlike any other time in history, I believe we live in a time that allows us to overschedule ourselves into a frenzy. We have been given tools and technologies that allow us to do multiple things at one time, much to the detriment of any one of those tasks we are partially attending to.

Beth Moore has said, "No one can do a thousand things to the glory of God." And I am so afraid that while we may nod in agreement to that statement, our actions actually reflect that we are trying to do it.

If I have learned anything, I have learned that sometimes you just have to say no. You have to be so in tune to God that you know what he has called you to do and you do those things. And only those things.

Overcommitting yourself to things that you have not been called to not only sacrifices your productivity in the things you have been called to, but it may even rob someone else of that assignment. So, before you try to squeeze something in or try to do it faster in your day, ask yourself if you should be doing it at all.

Or better yet, ask God if you should be doing it.

I have learned this lesson only quite recently and some days have to remind myself of this lesson. And I know that saying "no" to some things has left some individuals upset with me. But I also know that I am listening to God and his direction for every area of my life because I want to be the most fruitful I can be for him.

In my marriage. In my family. In my friendships. In my ministry.

In all areas of my life, this is my guiding verse: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Don't ask how you can do something faster or how to squeeze it in, ask God if you should be doing it at all. And trust that God will make your paths straight {and productive} for him!

4. Focus is nothing more than Eliminating Distractions.
We are a highly distracted culture {partly due to all that technology and overscheduling mentioned in the previous point}. And much like this article suggests, it is important for us to be deliberate about getting away from the distractions if we are going to be productive.

If we are going to focus on the Lord and what he has for us in our land of fruitfulness, we MUST eliminate the distractions that keep us from being focused on him. When I think about focusing on God and getting away from distractions I think of the many times in the Gospels that we are told that Jesus left others and went away alone to pray.

Mark 1:35 tells us, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

Matthew 14:23 tells us also, "After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,"

In fact, Luke 5:13 tells us that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."

Notice that it says often. Jesus often withdrew from the crowds and from the distractions to pray. And so must we.

Much like a morning quiet time and much like allowing God to direct our steps & manage our moods, we must take time to focus on God. And we will only focus if we take time to get away from the crowds, away from email, away from social media, and away from the distractions.

Jesus did it often and so must we if we are going to stay focused in our highly distracting culture.

Take time to focus on God. As it says in John 15, you will not be productive for him if you do not abide in him. Leading a fruitful life depends on focusing on & abiding in Jesus. You will not be productive for Jesus without focus.

5. Have a personal system.
In this point, the author makes this simple point: productive people have a routine. They have a system. Life doesn't just happen to them, they have a personal routine that works for them and they stick to it.

I have most definitely learned that living for Christ must include discipline. It must include purposeful routine. It will not just happen. And for me, routine is all about self-discipline.

Proverbs 25:28 tells us, "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."

Titus 2:12 tells us, "Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,"

And in Galatians, Paul tells us that self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Without self-control and discipline, we will fall into worldliness. We will fall into fleshly desires and we will not be productive for Jesus.

I like this point about having a personal system because it makes me think about having a personally tailored system of discipline that allows me to grow in Christ. At different stages of life, different things may be required in terms of a disciplined personal system. In my current stage of life, if I am going to get quiet time with the Lord, I must do it before the kids awake. That means doing it when it is still dark. This may not be the case for a single woman with no kids. But ultimately, I need a personal system that will work for me, at my stage of life, to abide in Christ and hear his voice.

What is your personal system? Do you have an established routine for spending time with Jesus? How do you learn & memorize Scripture? As we have seen in John 15, it is essential to abide in Christ to be fruitful for him and if you are going to be successful in abiding in him, you need to take time to determine how you will do that. If you do not have a personal system, then I recommend that you take some time to develop one.

6. Define your goals the night before.
The final point this author makes is that highly productive people wake up knowing what is important that day. Before the day's "pseudo-emergencies" flood their desks, they have determined what is important for that day. This one is fascinating to me and I think has a good Scriptural base in Philippians 3:13-14. In these verses, Paul says, "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Paul knew what his goal was and he was constantly striving for it. And Paul's goal should be ours: pressing on in our call as God's people. And instead of looking backwards, Paul was constantly reaching forward, focused on that goal for tomorrow.

Oh how we must go to bed each night looking forward to tomorrow and what God has for us on the next step of our journeys with him.

What if instead of going to bed dwelling on the failures of the day or the regrets you have from the hours past, you spent your bedtime ritual looking forward to tomorrow and planning how you were going to move forward for Jesus? If there was an area of your day that you would like to grow in, then spend that bedtime ritual praying about how you will overcome that area of your life and do better tomorrow {with fresh mercies and all}. What if you spent time praying about the day ahead and how you are going to be looking for God-appointments and not looking back on the day that is closing? What if you reminded yourself each and every night that you will "press on toward the goal" of serving and fulfilling your call and looked forward to the next day with great anticipation of how God was going to use you and speak to you? And determined to walk in that call tomorrow?

I imagine that having a "looking forward" mentality with clear goals would affect your mood and alter your outlook as you drifted off to sleep, awaking the next day with a fresh day ahead of you to follow Jesus.

Try it this evening. Instead of looking backwards on the day that is closing, look forward and outline your goals for the next day. Starting with the goal of communing with God in the morning, listening to his voice throughout the day, and truly abiding in him, focus on how God will use you tomorrow instead of regretting what may be in the past. Oh what a fresh perspective on tomorrow this could give us if we truly committed ourselves to abiding in Christ and being fruitful tomorrow. We may not know exactly what God-appointments await us, but we can set the goal of listening to his voice and following him. And with that, awake the next morning with fresh expectation for fruitfulness.

As I look at these 6 things that highly productive people do, I am so committed to apply them {slightly tweaked} to my own life. I want to go to bed looking forward to the opportunities God has for me tomorrow rather than beating myself up for today's failures. I want to awake in the morning allowing God to create my mood for the day and set my agenda rather than allowing Facebook or email to cause me to be a reactor early in my day. I want to find moments to truly focus on God, away from the distractions, so that I can hear his voice and direction clearly. And ultimately, I want to do everything that God tells me to do and nothing that God doesn't tell me to do.

Because at the end of the day, and at the end of my life, I want to be called "productive." But I don't want to be called productive in the world's eyes. I want to be called productive by God. I want to hear him say, "You bore much fruit my good & faithful servant."

That is the kind of productive I want to be. How about you?

Memorize this verse today:

"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."
~John 15:5

Copyright 2014 © After the Miracle. All rights reserved.
    |         |     Partners Links