Monday, January 25, 2010


Over the last few years I have been astounded by the number of times the Bible talks about bearing fruit or fruitfulness. The first time I heard this theme lifted up was at a Central staff retreat when one of the speakers who spent time with us talked about the difference between productivity and fruitfulness.

Have you ever thought about this?

At first they don't seem so different. If I'm working hard, I'm making things happen, doing my job, I'm producing something. I'm "bearing fruit." It's kind of a poetic, biblical way to say the same thing. Right?

Maybe not so much.

The question at heart is, whose work is getting done? When I produce something, I am the driver, the decision maker, the agenda owner. I'm the one making something happen. Think how we use that word. If you are a productive member of society, you are valuable, you're worth keeping around because of what you make or do. Many jobs include an evaluation based on productivity.

I live in Minnesota, where nearly everyone is a Vikings fan. Last night they lost the NFC Championship game to the New Orleans Saints, 31-28, in overtime. One of the local pundits observed that productivity in Minnesota would be way down today due to all the after-the-fact quarterbacking that would happen around the water coolers across the state. Productivity is (duh!) about what we produce. If I am distracted, depressed, unfocused, talking too much, or in any other way off-center, I will be less productive. If I am a grief-stricken Vikings fan, I will not be very productive today.

Is this different from fruitfulness?

Think about the picture. A tree doesn't decide what kind of fruit to bear -- that is encoded in its DNA. A tree doesn't decide where to bear fruit -- that is decided by the "accident" of where a seed is dropped or a cutting established. A tree doesn't will the fruit to appear -- the tree simply does what it does, growing deep roots and leaves that reach to the sunlight, and fruit happens. God has created the tree through a bunch of natural processes and sets those same natural processes in place so that the tree can bear fruit.

Is it possible that the fruit God wants you to bear is not the same as the difference you want to make? Is it possible that you are bearing fruit, or God is preparing you to bear fruit, in a way that is off your radar, in an arena where you don't even realize you have an impact?

One of the worst tragedies in this world is that of committed Christians who are out to make a difference for God but who neglect the places they have been planted -- their spouses, children, neighborhoods. Generation after generation sees "great" Christian leaders who rise up to change the world, but then we find that their foundations are made of sand. They're striving for productivity rather than bearing fruit.

Where have you been planted? What kind of fruit has God created you to bear? How have you bought into the lie of productivity?


  1. Wow, this is cool. This is exactly the error I have been making - (at least one of the errors). Let me ponder this a bit more before I respond....

  2. I think you might enjoy topic #5 - "Be fruitful" on the Godamongus blogsite. Come and check it out. God bless you, you have a great blog here. Keep up the good work.