Introduction: A Productive Worldview

Mar 28, 2023 | Blog

I’ve always hated rollercoasters.

While the adrenaline rush of soaring through the air excites the spirit and imagination of most people, in me, it creates knee-shaking anxiety and fear. But during a fateful visit to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, it was no less than a rollercoaster that changed my life forever.

It was 2015, and me, my wife, and her family were enjoying a nice getaway in the mountains. They’ve always loved the Pigeon Forge area, and in the years since I married Tiffany in 2012, we’ve spent a lot of time there. She was well aware of my utter disdain for rollercoasters, but never one to avoid a project, I suppose she thought this was a good opportunity to break me. One thing is for sure—I definitely broke. Although, not in the way she—or anyone—could have expected.

“Come on,” she said. “It will be fun, and here’s the thing. If you don’t like it, I’ll never bug you about it again. Pleaseeee?”

I mean, what’s a man supposed to do? It was bad enough that I drove a Prius; I needed every man card I could muster up. As we waited in line, the pressure mounted and the fear grew. Jokingly (kind of!) I made reference to my last wishes, the final time I would get to give her a hug and kiss, and more. I’m sure it all sounded ridiculous, but the bottom line is, I was terrified.

We finally reached the top and it was time to get in. “Nice knowing you all!” I gestured to my in-laws. The attendant came by to help us get the big, black, obtrusive “oh my gosh” bar down—the only possible rescue from falling to a sudden death, but there was a problem. It wouldn’t go down.

Mechanical error?, I wondered to myself. Nope. Far, far worse. Crippling fear turned into paralyzing embarrassment as the real problem dawned on me: I was too fat for the ride. The 10 seconds it took to act on the realization and begin the walk of shame off of the platform felt like 10 hours.

I played it cool, best I can remember. After all, at least I didn’t have to ride the rollercoaster! But inside I was reeling with pain, embarrassment, and a feeling of defeat I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. In that moment, I would’ve traded everything to be able to ride the rollercoaster.

The Twists and Turns of Life

Every good story has an “inciting moment”—the moment when everything changes, either for good or ill. This moment was my wake up call. It was time to do something about my health, my work, and my worldview. It was time to stop living on autopilot and begin making decisions that would positively impact my family for generations.

The next few years brought a radical change of pace. Due to the success stories of a few friends and family members, I read a book—voluntarily—called The New Atkins for a New You. The book taught what I considered to be a sustainable diet that I thought I could stick to. I did just that, and lost about 40 lbs in a six month period. In the few months that followed, I lost around an additional 20.

That was another huge moment for me; not only the weight loss, but the fact that I read a book, did what it said, and saw results. Soon after while browsing through the book section in Goodwill, I came across The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. Talk about a whole new world! I learned that the Christian worldview was not only a way of living, but there was radical evidence for its truth. Around this time I had started a business and started reading books about business, finance, leadership growth, productivity, and personal development.

Like I said, the pace was fast.

And the change was transparent. People started to notice, and it felt great! As the years went by, though, I noticed something troubling. These two worlds—a committed Christian worldview and personal development—had collided in the work of many others, but the results of that collision became increasingly concerning.

The Limits of Personal Development

By no means do I declare myself an arbiter of what is true and good. The Lord knows that I fail him every day, and yet he remains faithful to me. Still—Christianity is not new. The church has had thousands of years to thrive, during which lots of debates about the nature of God and humanity, among others things, have been held.

But the more I read about personal development, the more I saw ideas influenced by new age thinking and philosophy creep into works by Christian authors. I noticed another problem. Despite the number of books about business, leadership, and finance informed by a Christian perspective, there were notably few dedicated to the subject of productivity.

There are good Christian people who have written books about productivity—one of my favorites is Michael Hyatt. These books are fine, but they are informed primarily by the author’s personal experience rather than biblical teaching. Yet in my studies, I have discovered that the Bible has much to say about productivity! Some of it very practical, some of it very abstract, most of it surprising.

In a world where it’s harder and harder for a Christian’s practical experience of culture to resemble anything like the life we are called to live by Christ, we don’t need a man’s ideas on productivity—we need God’s ideas of productivity in order to remain effective.

That’s what this book is all about.

Another Book on Productivity?

As I hinted just above, finding a book on productivity is not hard. It’s not even hard to find one written by a Christian author. But it’s most certainly hard to find one that specifically uses biblically-informed worldview thinking. That realization is what led to the idea and main premise of this book:

What we need is not another productivity system, we need a productivity worldview.

The problem with adopting just another productivity system is that these systems are not designed to consider the most important part of the Christian experience—taking part in God’s plan to redeem the world for himself. Sure, you can learn how to “Get More Done,” “Make More By Working Less,” or “Make the Most of Your Time.” None of these are bad ideas, they’re just incomplete ideas. They don’t account for the fact that there is a different goal and aim to life than being efficient or making greater income.

A productive worldview will inevitably make use of some similar tools. And as we’ll find, some of those tools and ideas actually originate with biblical/ancient thinking even if they do not give it any credit. A biblically informed Christian should desire to go beyond doing something merely because it is a good idea. There are oftentimes larger goals at stake. And without a productive worldview, it will be difficult to adjudicate between things competing for our time in a way that considers factors beyond our personal level of comfort.

Sometimes, being a beacon for the gospel is very uncomfortable (Matthew 8:20). And yet the very same Jesus who modeled that truth was unquestionably productive. He was an entrepreneur, had clear business savvy, and accomplished all we are told of his time on earth in just three years of public ministry! In fact, at the end of his Gospel, the Apostle John tells us that he was only able to fit a few things into his record and that the world could not contain the books that could be written of what was accomplished during that time.


This tells me it is not only possible to be effective in ministry, business, and the stuff of life, but necessary since part of being a Christian is being conformed to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29-30). Becoming more like Jesus every day is not an idea we are given in the abstract. The point is to mirror the perfect life Jesus lived to the extent possible by an imperfect person. And while this is only possible through the power of the Spirit, clearly, this is an area where we can apply the massive amounts of brainpower given to us by God as well.

Apps, Hacks, and Quacks: Breaking Through the Noise of Productivity Gurus

Dayquil® is a miracle from God. That stuff works so well when I am sick that we pretty much keep it in stock. And yet, despite how magical it may be, it does nothing except mask the symptoms of a deeper problem. The deeper problem is an infection. Something inside is broken and needs to be fixed so that the symptoms actually go away.

Productivity apps, hacks, and quacks are like Dayquil®. They are effective—sometimes very!—at providing relief in the moment for productivity problems. But after a while their effects diminish and you are still left with the problem. At the core, your ability to prioritize is compromised by a deep, subconscious commitment to your success as a person living in God’s world.

This is not lost on God. There’s a reason why he gives us lots of instruction around how to be productive in his Word. And yet, I see very few Christians applying these ideas practically. In fact, may I tell on myself? I didn’t see them until recently. That’s right. While I would prefer to be writing this book from the perspective of, “I found these ideas in the Bible, applied them, they worked, and now I want to share them with you!”…I can’t. Because it wouldn’t be true.

If I’ve learned anything in my time as a Bible teacher, though, often God has us to teach through the lessons we need the most in order to learn them deeply.

Instead, the impetus and perceived need for this book come from the sheer volume of worldview direction and practical advice I found in the Bible once I started looking. Many of the ideas I learned from gurus in the business aspect, it turns out, are applicable to the everyday Christian life according to God’s Word.

Would it change your life if you could finally break through the noise of what the world tells you is important and begin living a life of purpose? What if I told you that work could be done in a way that honors God’s will for your life and provides meaningful direction for your daily life? What if you could rest physically and spiritually while still accomplishing the things that matter most to God, your family, and you?

You can.

But you’ll have to trade your productivity systems for a whole new worldview.

Trading Your System for a Worldview

In his book 4,000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, journalist Oliver Burkeman provides a new outlook on productivity. While he doesn’t use this terminology, you might say that what he promotes is also a productivity worldview. I thought the premise made sense and I was recommended the book by a trusted person, so I read it with excitement to see a new perspective.

I found a new perspective alright. And it was not at all what I was expecting.

In the book, Burkeman sets up his vision of the problem like this:

When people stop believing in an afterlife, everything depends on making the most of this life. And when people start believing in progress—in the idea that history is headed toward an ever more perfect future—they feel far more acutely the pain of their own little lifespan, which condemns them to missing out on almost all of that future. And so they try to quell their anxieties by cramming their lives with experience.

In other words, people “used to think” there’d be more time after this life was completed, and thus, when they stopped believing in the afterlife, they began to jam pack their lives with experience and work to make the most of their short time.

Burkeman’s solution? Just do less. Do the meaningful stuff. Science, history, and philosophy all prove it’s impossible to get everything done anyway. So what are we stressing about?

I’d like to point out a theme you will see repeated as we make our way through this book. There is a deep longing to be effective and accomplish one’s purpose evident in most writing on productivity. Burkeman is correct to point out that it’s impossible to get everything done and that we’re making matters worse by subjecting ourselves to ever-increasing demands and deadlines. There is much we can learn from this thinking as faithful Christians.

However, it gets dangerous quick. I don’t know the rich details of Burkeman’s background, but I get the overwhelming sense he’s been harmed by religion. He’s clearly been talked out of it. Indeed, the premise of his entire book is that life is finite and we have only a short time to accomplish everything we’d like to do. He asks us to embrace this finitude—not be scared away by it.

Burkeman’s productivity worldview is that we only get 4,000 weeks to live on average. All of us. And in that time, we ought not to be packed to the gills with work to do. Instead, we should realize the privilege to be alive at all, get done what we can, and not stress out about the rest.

The biblical productivity worldview is that we’re going to live forever. And we have a very short amount of time on this earth with which to disciple people and bring as many people as possible into the afterlife with us. As we’ll discuss in Chapter 2, we’ll have lots of time and lots of opportunities to be productive in the New Heavens and New Earth.

That does not mean, contrary to Burkeman, that we have an eternity to accomplish the things needful to be done during our 4,000 weeks. My burden in this book will be to show you a better way. Jesus’ way. God’s way. If Christians start using their time and resources in the way God intended, there’s no telling the impact it could have on the world.

What This Book Is—and Isn’t

“Productivity nerds” like me would love a book like this to be mostly about the latest tools, techniques, and apps to get more work done in less time. That is not this book, on purpose. Any number of great tools, techniques, and apps can be used once you have an understanding of how God wants you to use your time and why he wants you to use it that way.

Where most have gone wrong is thinking that one more machine or back door hack is going to save their day and free up their time. It won’t. At least not in a way that will make for lasting impact and complete reversal of how you view the world. So, what will that journey look like? Allow me to lay out the path ahead so you know what to expect.

The Structure of This Book

I debated whether or not this book was going to speak directly to Christians or take a broader approach. I have decided that this is a book for Christians. It’s not that a non-Christian couldn’t make use of what’s inside. But a non-Christian will not be able to identify with the why behind the what of this book, and that will make all the difference in the world.

Thus, Part 1 of the book will dive directly into what the Bible says about productivity. In Chapter 1, we’ll talk about God’s production system—how he chooses to work and who he chooses to use. I have to warn you, this chapter is going to get into some weird stuff you may have never heard before. Nevertheless, I believe what we’re going to discuss is central to the practical implications we’ll discuss in Part 3. In Chapter 2, we’ll explore the concept of work itself. We’ll seek to understand how work fits into our lives as Christians, whether or not it is good, and what the Bible says about how we can be effective workers.

In Chapter 3, we’ll discuss some of the “laws” God built into the universe for production. I really believe this chapter will blow your mind. Not because of my ideas but because of how much easier our daily lives would be if we’d just tap into the systems God built into the universe to make us more effective. In Chapter 4, I want to ask a question we’ve been asking for some time but in a whole new way: Would would Jesus do? In other words, how would—how did—he spend his time? How cool that we get to see exactly how God would spend his time and organize his life as a human like us! Then in Chapter 5, we’ll round out the first part of our study by discussing what it means to be a human living in a world that abides by the laws of time. We’ll deal with how to work in important ideas like family worship, consider the biblical case for entrepreneurship, and discover the biblical recipe for avoiding burnout.

In Part 2, we’ll look at how to arrange those biblical ideas into what I’ve called “The Devotional Productivity Worldview.” We’ll introduce the “5 Pillars” of that worldview in Chapter 6; then we’ll take each in turn starting with Chapter 7. There, we’ll discuss the notion that God is a God of grace—and no matter where we’re starting from, God is ready to start using us right where we are. In Chapter 8, we’ll learn about how our daily lives should be spent in service of a larger mission. As a Christian, your mission statement has been decided for you! What’s cool, though, is God has uniquely gifted us to play our own role within that mission. And once you tap into that, you’ll be more effective than ever for his kingdom.

In Chapter 9, we’ll discuss one of my favorite topics: making things happen.God has divinely created the universe to reward action takers. And contrary to what you may have heard, you needn’t wait around for a burning bush or a spiritual nudge to get moving. In seeming contradiction, Chapter 10 will cover yet another one of my favorite topics: rest! We’ll look at surprising evidence from God’s Word and world that all point to the conclusion that rest is actually productive. Then in Chapter 11, we’ll round out this part of the book by discussing how to work together with other people to accomplish your goals. If you’ve ever held the limiting belief that work is meant to be hated, we’ll shatter it in this chapter.

In Part 3, the book gets practical. Using the 5 Pillars as our framework, I’ll reveal what I call The Freedom Ladder. Its goal is to give you the step-by-step path to being productive in God’s world. Ever wondered how time works and felt like there’s not enough of it in a day? According to the Bible, there’s exactly as much as you need, and that’s our subject in Chapter 12. Chapter 13 introduces the concept of your “Focus Agreement” and shows you how to put one together. This is your daily reminder of the mission you’re on and how to keep your sights set on the prize before you (Philippians 3:14).

In Chapter 14, we’ll learn why goal setting might not be working for you and what to do instead. We’ll examine the art of “predictable achievement” and make your desired outcomes far more likely to come true. In Chapter 15, rest takes the stage once again. Don’t think it’s possible to work rest into your life? Think again. When you realize how beneficial rest truly is, you won’t want to go another day without a considerable amount of it. And finally in Chapter 16, we’ll look at how to rid your task list of the things you hate and are not good at by working alongside people who love and excel at those same things. We’ll also consider how available you should be and how to make sure your time is organized wisely to increase kingdom—and personal—impact.

In the book’s Conclusion, we’ll spend a brief moment looking at the “Well Done” life and what is necessary to make sure you hear those words at the end of your time on this earth. And if you’re a serious nerd, the Appendix is for you. We’ll discuss AI, humanity’s current plans to go to Mars, and what current thought on Human Advancement means for being productive in the world in the context of a Christian worldview.

By the time you finish this book, I hope and pray you grow a deeper love and appreciation for who God is. You see, it’s all about him. My desire is that you come away from this book with your eyes opened—wondering how you ever made it through a day without these ideas. Ready to change everything about how you engage with God’s World? Then an incredible journey awaits. Let’s get going.

Meet Steve

Meet Steve

Hi, I’m Steve, an author, speaker, and Bible teacher with a heart for exploring God’s Word and God’s world.

I’m interested in the surprising connection between creation, theology, business, and storytelling. We explore those themes and more on this blog.

Be sure to browse the site for faith-affirming articles, book reviews, and podcasts!

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