Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Tag: Productivity

Covenant Companionship [Productivity, Part 5]

So. . . then what?

I flip the page, then flop over onto my back, and stare at the ceiling in the soft glow of icicle light.

He was single-minded, focused, benevolent, visionary, humble and unassuming. . .

In short, he was a great man. A great leader. A great worker.

So broad though. . . Too broad, no?

Then slowly, this thought. . .

No, maybe that’s not too broad at all. 

A man can spend his life trying to hone some skill, so he can do more.

But perhaps after a point, the only way to pursue greatness is to be more. 

Or maybe that’s actually true from the start.

I stop to listen a minute. A long minute.

My boy, that makes you a better worker, a better leader, a better “doer,” which makes you a better child of mine.

Humility? Check. 

Fervency? Check. 

Sincerity? Integrity? Loyalty? Simplicity? 


So. . . maybe “childhood” should be our obsession?

I was on the phone with Sweet Honey the other morning, and in the course of our conversation it came to us how different fighting for the right is, than fighting for. . . anything else. If what makes me a better child of His makes me a better leader, worker, student. . . then who wouldn’t go for that? Especially when what makes one a better child is resting one’s head on one’s Father’s knee, and just letting him run fingers through our hair.

I mean, He could demand anything. But no, He says “just stick close enough to stay under the shadow of My wings.” 

Because our primary weapon in spiritual warfare (or any warfare) is simply covenant companionship. 

Be near Him, and stay there, and you become a force to be contended with. (Have we just come full circle?)

This is how we learn to fight well?

It almost seems silly to call it “fighting.” Even if there is a sword in our hands. It’s not like any other kind of fighting, at any rate. I mean, I suppose you could legitimately counsel me to “fight” for my marriage starting June 12th. How though? Oh, cuddles, and kisses, and kind words. That’s how. That’s how we “fight” for a relationship. . .

With You too, though, Lord Glorious? 

I don’t see why not.

I’ll take it.

Lord, grant it. 

Secret Prince [Productivity, Part 4]

Suddenly pushed from the seclusion of the king’s private chambers out onto the center stage of the ancient east, this man becomes a force to be reckoned with almost overnight. The next few verses are a whirlwind. I can’t help but think perhaps the little cluster of choices we’ve already explored prepared him for the rest of the story so effectively, he’s almost hard to follow.

At any rate, chapter two does boil down to two interlocking observations for me:

Nehemiah was single-minded, to the point of being self-forgetful.

For starters, it seems his newfound importance as an envoy of the king to a crumbled city didn’t occur to him at all. There are no heralds before, no retinue behind. Only in passing does he mention the “captains of the army and horsemen” that the king had sent along with him, probably in a bit of a scramble.

He arrives without fanfare, albeit to hear grumblings in the wind already.

And then he waits. He waits till the dark of night can shield him from the publicity, the curiosity, even the honor of his commission. He rises to work when the rest lie down to rest, and when the sun comes up, the survey is done.

I don’t know how different the history might have been if he’d arrived with trumpets. If nothing else, Sanballat and Tobiah would have had a head start.

This I know: God needs more men and women willing to work in the shadows. 

And this too I know: He or she who does faithfully the work given in secret will not work in the dark for long. . . 

Leader By Accident [Productivity, Part 3]

When God paves your way, who can hedge it up?

The cupbearer comes into the presence of the king, entirely innocent of the fact that he’s about to start the greatest social movement in a generation. It seems he hadn’t planned on mentioning anything, today was just another day, and he was just doing his job.

But his countenance bore the marks of his time weeping on his knees. . .

(Tell me there isn’t a sermon in that itself.) 

And the king had to know.

Nehemiah’s first reaction was a shock of fear. Then, he just told the truth.

And apparently, God had gone before.

It is his second reaction that touched me most deeply this morning though. Before Nehemiah realizes it, like a an avalanche started by a single snowflake, this thing is on the move.

The king leans forward on his throne, and in steady tones asks the simple question:

“For what dost thou make request?” (Nehemiah 2:4a)

I believe Nehemiah’s response to this opportunity is the third secret of his success— his productivity.

“So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 2:4b)

Not elation, not greed, or fear, or grasping.

He’s instant in prayer. 

First, you need silence.
Then, you need humility.
Then, you need abiding dependence.

Refrains From the Poet King [Productivity, Part 2]

Affliction before greatness. First, you need silence.

But wait, there’s more.

Bowed down to the earth with grief, tears spattering the polished floor of a foreign palace, the kings’s cupbearer does what seems counter-intuitive.

He doesn’t struggle to rise. He bows lower.

“Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee. . .”

(Nehemiah 1:6)

Does that sound familiar?

I’m hearing Daniel’s famous prayer ringing in my hears. . . The one that started an extra-terrestrial battle that lasted for weeks. The prophecy that clinched all Messianic prophecies.

I’m also hearing the gentle voice of the poet-king Solomon, who twice in the space of three chapters of his bestselling collection of Proverbs declared, “Before honor is humility.”

But what in the wide world does humility have to do with productivity?

Not sure I know. . .

Maybe it’s a “credit where credit is due” thing?

Or maybe. . . (and maybe. . . )

Maybe it is that before a man can accomplish anything at all, he must be filled.

And before a man can be filled, he must be emptied.

Yeah, that’s it.

Affliction before greatness.
First, you need silence.
Then, you need humility. 

Laws of Productivity

This morning, my pre-dawn prayers kept being punctuated by this intermitted background buzz— like a pesky fly that keeps coming around for another pass.

“And, you also have to do ________ today. Absolute must.” 

Yes, I know.

(I mean, Ok, I was forgetting, but now I remember. 🙄)

I’m not sure if the bombardment was more distraction or mercy. . . But either way, I was shortly ruffling through the pages of my Bible in search of a role model. A super efficient, super successful, super “against-all-odds” kind of guy, who got the job(s) done.

Landing on Nehemiah was. . . definitely mercy.

Not even five verses in, and I think I’m on to the first secret of this man’s productivity:

“And it came to pass, when I heard [that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and the remnant of the captivity were in great affliction], that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days. . .”

“Don’t miss this, my boy.
Every harvest starts in a dark place.
Every great work starts with tears.
It might seem to commence with trumpets,
but be sure there were tears before the trumpets. . .
First, you need silence.”

“So, I needn’t be afraid of the dark?”

“You needn’t be afraid of the dark.”


First Law of Productivity: (à la Mr. Nehemiah)

#1 Affliction before greatness. First, you need silence.


to be continued. . .