Insidious Productivity

Productivity is a major value of the culture in which we live. Because we tend to see time as money, then productivity is the means toward greater wealth, and therefore also the means to the ease and comfort and happiness that supposedly comes with wealth.

Productivity by definition requires speed, intelligence, ability to reason, and independent thinking (among other things).

  • A person who thinks fast, moves fast, decides fast, and even eats fast is generally considered to be productive. A sloth working at the DMV is not, even if his name is Flash.
  • A person who commands a plethora of information about math or science or human existence is thought to have the mental competence to be productive. Anyone who does not get above a 4.0 GPA surely must not be very intelligent, even if they can write a symphony or figure out how to fix a car.
  • A person with a high capacity for reason and logic is put on a pedestal and lauded as being highly productive, while one who requires tedious explanation for everything is shoved aside and forgotten.
  • A person who can think and work independently generally accomplishes more in life than one who is dependent on others for information or decisions or motivation.

Productivity is a major value of our culture, but it may not be as high of a value for God. Therefore God in His wisdom and grace ordains circumstances and people in our lives which force us to face our idolatry of productivity. In my life, that God-ordained circumstance and person is my daughter with special-needs. She is not fast. She does not have high intelligence. She has almost zero ability to reason. And she is far from independent in her thinking.

In short, she does not contribute to the “productivity” of our family, or at least not in the type of productivity that we esteem so greatly. But in other ways, though I am sometimes loathe to admit it, she is an indispensable tool through which God is carrying out the productivity that matters most–the formation of my heart into Christ’s likeness. Her slowness is forming the sweet fruit of patience in me (slowly!). Her lack of intelligence is revealing my self-righteous pride. Her inability to reason is stretching my creativity in teaching. And her dependence and neediness is developing a heart of mercy in me. That is a productivity which matters for eternity, and thus is far more valuable than the long list of things I think I need to accomplish in order to be productive.

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