Monday, September 02, 2019

"Productive Chaos"

Proverbs 14.4
The Living Bible

“An empty stable stays clean – but there is no income from an empty stable.”

I once walked into an executive’s office and found an incredibly messy desk. Hidden under a stack of file folders was a little plaque which read: “Master of the Messy Desk... Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.” 

I didn’t quite believe it then, and I still don’t. A certain amount of order and organization is necessary for any productive enterprise. However, organization can be taken to an extreme. My mother used to tell the story of my third grad teacher who allegedly said: “David is still organizing his desk and arranging his papers when the other students are almost finished with their work.” Apparently, I wanted things so clean and orderly that I forgot to produce a completed assignment.

While a clean and comfortable working environment is helpful, it’s not the goal. The goal is to be productive and get some work done. Sometimes the best work is the work accomplished under less than ideal conditions. 

Here’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed to be true about me. When my ‘to-do’ list is nearly completed, my desk is clean, I’m not in a rush, my phone isn’t ringing incessantly, I have time for long talks with the people I love, I come home when I say I will, I’m not tempted to break the speed limit, I don’t postpone potty breaks, I actually eat lunch, I work out regularly, I have time for prayer and Bible study, I’m prompt for appointments, my words are kind and thoughtful, there’s no underlying sense of panic, I am pleasant to all, my schedule is full but not impossible, and I act with patience. When all this is true... I’m not making any money!

Life is so much better when I’m broke, but not really. I may exchange high-level production for short-term peace, but that’s no peace at all. I may be comfortable and nicer to be around, but bills continue to mount and new pressures arise. I am confronted with a decision. Do I want a “clean stable” or sufficient “income,” an organized desk or ample work, peace of mind or market share? The decision is mine.

As much as I hate the chaos almost always associated with real work, I must be productive. My family depends on it. 

Today, I am enjoying a labor-free Labor Day. But tomorrow, I must jump back into my productive chaos. 

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