Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Turning my worship from Productivity

A couple friends and I text almost every day. When one of them asks how my day is, I answer immediately with a list of what I've accomplished and what I plan to accomplish. I cite my to-do list. I reference my productivity.

I let accomplishments and productivity define my day. A good day is one when I've conquered errands and chores with time to spare for writing or playing. A frustrating day means my plans have been shuffled or my chores disrupted.

It's no secret I have perfectionist tendencies.

God's been teaching me to let go of those ways, but it's a process. During this journey I've come across books and people who have spoken so much truth into my life. Most recently, this Love Idol movement inspired by Jennifer Dukes Lee's book that releases April 1 has wrecked my heart.

And I mean wrecked in a good, life-changing way. I've only read the introduction and first chapter of "Love Idol," but Jennifer's works have me thinking and praying and surrendering and trusting in a new way.

"Instead of resting in the love and approval of an unseen God, we chase after the temporary pleasures of human validation.

Whatever rules our hearts becomes our lord. The person who seeks approval and acceptance can become controlled by it. The person who is motivated primarily by a need for human affirmation is, in the end, ruled by it.

If we don’t get the love and acceptance we crave, we’re deflated. But if we do get the approval we want, we might not be any better off, for we are tricked into thinking our idols offer fulfillment. And we keep going back for more.

This book is for any of us who want to live content in God’s perfect love, freed up from the wearying demands of the Love Idol."
{Jennifer Dukes Lee in "Love Idol"}

I named my idol Productivity.

In effort to truly let go of my worship of getting things done when there are people right here to love, I spent some time -- lots of time, if I'm honest -- trying to think of what I could give up for Lent, which begins today.

I texted with a friend who is on this journey with me because my extroverted ways often process truth in conversations. I struggled to figure out just what God was calling me to lay down before him.

I thought about my to-do list and calendar. I wondered about silencing my words about productivity. I considered what was pushing my attention on Productivity, that pesky idol that seems to be a good thing.

Sometimes I try to prove to myself I'm more than "just a mom." So I take on projects and volunteer for things that use my skills of organization and promotion. I add commitments to the calendar and then become distracted at home. Last fall, I laid down several commitments that were all good things so I could focus on the best things.

The best thing is that I am a wife, mom and friend. Those roles doesn't necessarily come with appointments that fill specific spaces on the calendar, but they do come with responsibilities and commitments. And that's where I want my attention. God's been working on me this way as I work through "Storyline" with some friends online. I shouldn't be surprised this week's lesson was on our roles. Donald Miller reminded me too much of even the best roles isn't sustainable in the big picture: "When we play too many roles, our story suffers for clarity. ... None of us can connect with everybody. We have to choose."

"Love Idol" is a movement that's reinforcing what's already happening in my heart. So, starting today, I'm going work on my attitude. Instead of rushing the kids out the door because I had to send one more email or start one more load of laundry, I'm going to let those chores wait. Because when I start rushing, my voice gets louder and harsher.

What that means in a practical Lenten sacrifice is I'm not going to yell or rush. I'm not going to let Productivity define my days. When "How is your day?" comes to me in a text, I'm going to answer the question with truth, not with a list of accomplishments and expectations.

This is all a process of sanctification, of being more like my Creator. As I read Angie Smith's "Chasing God," I realize I do chase God when I should be following him.

"We will take one more and more characteristics of our God, and our attitudes and behavior will be different. But don't think it's something you're in control of or that' it's a project God dumped in your lap and told you to complete.

Paul explains, 'And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit' (2 Corinthians 3:18).

... the phrase 'being transformed' is in a passive tense, indicating that we aren't in charge of transforming ourselves; it's the work of the Holy Spirit within us. ... So the sermon notes, the stacks of Christian books, and all the fellowship potlucks you have on your calendar are a waste of time if you aren't relying on Him. Our strength is just not enough to make us grow in holiness."
{Angie Smith in "Chasing God"}

For me, worshiping Productivity is me trying to transform myself. That's not my role in sanctification and true transformation.

Holley Gerth reminded me in a conversation last weekend that working harder isn't always the answer. Becoming a worker takes away the worship God wants from our lives. Using our gifts and loving on the people near us is worship, but idolizing Productivity takes away from the glory God wants to display.

Of course, there are going to be days where chores and work are required, but I want to live in a way that my completion of those tasks doesn't make or break my day. Yes, there are going to be appointments I have to keep, but I want to go in a way that doesn't cause stress and harsh, loud words.

I'm going to lay down Productivity so I can be the wife, mom and friend God wants me to be. He's created me for this and he sees my heart, not all the check marks and accomplishments on my calendar. In Christ alone, I'm enough and chosen and a child of God and made new and treasured and free and redeemed and held and whole and loved and cherished and known and beloved and valuable. And I'm preapproved. There's nothing I can do to change any of that.

As part of the launch team for "Love Idol" by Jennifer Dukes Lee, I got a sneak peek into the pages of this book. The subtitle is worth taking in too: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself through God's Eyes. Who can't relate to that? The book will be available April 1, but you can pre-order it now. You can also join the Love Idol Movement page on Facebook

With this post, I'm joining Jennifer's #TellHisStory community, where she beautifully tells why she's covering all her mirrors for Lent. 

This is fourth "Storyline" post as I make my way through the workbook with friends. You can read my previous posts here. They're really part of this process, which you can tell by their names, especially Only Love Today and People Over Projects

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  1. Oh, Kristin. You know I can relate to your Love Idol, too. What really struck me about this post was the thoughts about worship. When I led the SDG retreat in November, my friend prayed for me via Skype, she prayed that this planning and speaking and ministering would be my act of worship. To think of it in this way took all the stress out of things being perfect. It was simply doing what I was created to do -- worship. Totally redefined how I do things. And the truth is, anything He's given us to do - change diapers, take out the trash, lead a bible study...anything, can be an act of worship if our heart longs for it to be.

  2. KristinHillTaylor3/05/2014 7:48 AM

    Yes - I do find if I'm truly worshiping and serving God, then I don't get caught up in the perfectionism tendencies. Most times, it comes down to me needing to loosen my grip and not try so hard to control everything. Ah, right back there again to that control thing. You and your words here encourage me.

  3. KristinHillTaylor3/05/2014 8:13 AM

    Thanks, Melanie! And thanks for coming by!

  4. This resonates big-time, Kristin. I daily have to wrestle this one down. I love work. I love crossing things off lists. I get a charge out of my productivity. And I've too often used it as a way to define myself. Thank you for your beautiful work here, for sharing your heart so openly, and for letting people know about our movement. I couldn't do this without friends like you, Kristin. xo

    (Sharing this post on the Love Idol Movement page on FB at 2 p.m. today)

  5. KristinHillTaylor3/05/2014 9:44 AM

    You're so kind, Jennifer. Thanks for bringing us all along this journey with you. I'm so excited to hold your book in my hands!

  6. Ouch. I often measure my day by how efficient I've been--it's not a good yardstick and I've been trying to let go of it (while still getting things done that need getting done). So your words here on the idol of Productivity hit home with me.

    "Using our gifts and loving on the people near us is worship, but idolizing Productivity takes away from the glory God wants to display."

    Thanks for sharing these truths. May God bless you on this journey of laying down Productivity!

  7. I loved how you tied in the Storyline book. I need to catch up there! :) As always, I love your heart. I totally relate to the taking on more and believing that somehow makes us more worthy. I've stepped away from many things over the past few months. It's one of the reasons to be thankful for this deployment as I knew going into it that things had to go.
    Love how Jennifer's book is having an impact on so many already. God is on the move and it's super cool to see.
    Love you!! <3

  8. I just can not get over the beauty of you! Keep rocking that lamp stand girlie!

  9. KristinHillTaylor3/06/2014 7:49 AM

    I was only able to tie in Storyline because it seems everything I read keeps weaving itself together in my head. It's times like this I'm certain God is teaching me something. :) Many people have only read the beginning of her book and it's already starting a movement. How powerful the rest of the book is going to be! Thanks for your constant encouragement. Love you!

  10. KristinHillTaylor3/06/2014 7:49 AM

    Thanks, Sonya! :)

  11. "In Christ alone, I'm enough and chosen and a child of God and made new and treasured and free and redeemed and held and whole and loved and cherished and known and beloved and valuable. And I'm preapproved." Love this whole post so much, my friend. And guess what? My group going through Storyline has been going slow and we just started the module on roles on Tuesday! I am really appreciating the study--and I adore your heart! Bless you!

  12. KristinHillTaylor3/06/2014 2:41 PM

    That's so fun we're in the same place in Storyline - it's been a good process for me to think through. You're such a blessing, Jennifer.