We live in an age of distraction. With constant access to media at our fingertips, our minds are continually flitting from one thing to another. We are repeatedly tossed to and fro by the pressures and concerns of life.
Focus, particularly focus on Jesus and the kingdom He ushered in, is difficult. Having a kingdom focus means we are intentionally fixing our eyes on Jesus, while letting all else fade to the background.
If we want to be fruitful followers of Jesus, we need to shift our focus from all the distractions and lesser goals to the face of Christ.
The Problem with Productivity
The world pushes us to do more faster. It coerces us into thinking that our value is based on what we produce. When we try to prove our worth in what we accomplish, the world applauds.
But this is not biblical.
When we make productivity the marker of success and value, we commit ourselves to a never-ending hamster wheel of doing, which only ends in exhaustion. And then when we don't produce according to the expectations of others - when we don't measure up - we are labelled as failures.
The Bible does not elevate productivity to the place of identity. We are not what we do. Our worth is based on who we are in Christ. We are infinitely loved by the King of the universe, totally accepted by our Father in heaven. This is our true identity.
As followers of Jesus, we are most effective in this world when our focus is not on productivity, but on simply listening for Jesus' voice and obeying Him when He speaks.
Fruitfulness over Productivity
If productivity is not the key marker for success in the kingdom of God, what is?
Fruitfulness is the goal for every Christ-follower.
John 15:8 says, "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."
God wants us to be profoundly effective. He wants us to bear much fruit in His kingdom.
So what is fruit?
In the Bible, fruit is often used to describe a person’s outward actions that result from the condition of the heart. It includes a person's character as well as their effectiveness in accomplishing the good works God has prepared for each person. Good fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit, so the more we surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit, the more fruit our lives will produce.
Jesus told His followers, "I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (John 15:16). While the world's measurement of productivity is temporal, only kingdom fruit has eternal benefit.
Choose fruitfulness over productivity.
Intimacy Leads to Fruitfulness
God calls us to be abundantly fruitful.
There is only one way healthy fruit is grown - by clinging to the tree. In John 15 Jesus tells us clearly what we must do to bear fruit. He said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5). As disciples of Christ, we must stay completely connected to Him to be spiritually fruitful.
Intimacy with Christ is what leads to fruitfulness for Christ.
Our lives become fruitless when we ignore the means by which we stay connected to Christ: time in the Word and prayer. When these spiritual disciplines start to slip, like a branch disconnected from the vine, we start to wither.
We must abide in Christ. His life-giving power flows through us and enables us to do the good works God planned for us from the beginning of time.
This is not a try-harder life. This is a life that calls us to rest in the goodness and provision of Jesus and live out of His abundance.
Focus on Listening to Jesus
Listening for the voice of the Jesus is key to being effective in the kingdom of God. This is how we maintain a kingdom focus. When our spiritual ears are attuned to the voice of the Spirit, our focus naturally shifts from our own desires and the world's expectations to kingdom priorities.
Jesus said His sheep know His voice. As a follower of Christ, you are able to recognize His voice.
But we can only hear the voice of our Shepherd when we silence the noise around us and wait for Him to speak. You don't need me to tell you that our world is incredibly noisy. It takes intentionality to silence the constant barrage of voices to listen for One voice. But we will never regret doing so.
Obey Him When He Speaks
Then what do we do when we hear His voice?
Simple. Obey Him.
We all want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a difference in the kingdom of God. We will not reach this goal by trying harder, producing more, or continually striving. Our lives will bear eternal fruit only when we obey Jesus.
So often we think we know what is best. We follow the advice of the world or our internal wisdom. But since we don't know all things, even our best decision-making processes are limited. Human wisdom often ends in disappointment.
God alone knows all things. He knows the end from the beginning. As we shift our focus to the ways of the kingdom, listening and obeying the voice of our Saviour, we will never go wrong.
But hearing His voice is not enough; we must do what He says. Even when we don't understand why He's told us to do something, we demonstrate our trust in Him when we do it anyway.
Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him. Obedience flows out of love for Jesus.
Again, as followers of Jesus, we are most effective in this world when our focus is not on productivity, but on simply listening for Jesus' voice and obeying Him when He speaks.
So here's a recap:
Recognize that productivity is not biblical.
Aim for fruitfulness, which is the marker of success in the kingdom.
Cultivate intimacy with Jesus, which leads to fruitfulness.
Listen for the voice of Jesus.
Obey Jesus when He speaks.
This is how to have a kingdom focus.
Click here for a simple tool to help you study God's Word.