MsDora, a former teacher and Christian counselor, is an avid Bible student and loves to compile user-friendly Bible quotes by topic.
We may think that hard work and talent are enough to guarantee productivity, but there are talented, hard-working people who do not experience the results they expect. Their efforts leave them dissatisfied, and deep within they know that there is more to life than the drudgery they endure.
"The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity," says Tom Peters, expert on business management practices. The Bible offers counsels for those who would adhere to this success principle. Habits like accountability, benevolence, diligence, generosity, persistence and wisdom not only build character, they also open up avenues through which workers can contribute to the success of each other. These Bible quotes affirm that.
"After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money." —Matthew 25:19
Accountability helps those who are willing but become careless when they try to self-manage. They need motivation to toe the line. It is better to be accountable and productive, than to be a self-dependent loser.
In the parable (Matthew 25: 14-30) which this verse summarizes, workers were given money to invest. Most reported 100% profit and were promoted. The one worker who was too cautious to try, lost his capital to the most productive (verse 28).
Accountability prevents the steward from acting as a loner, and neglecting the opportunity to learn from others. He is motivated to be more careful and more productive when he accepts that responsibility includes being able to explain his actions, and being open to advice.
"Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive." —Titus 3:14
Benevolence is the disposition to do good in the interest of others. It discourages self centeredness. It causes the worker to share his time and his knowledge to teach a fellow worker how to improve. In time, they both experience increased productivity.
Benevolence offers practical help along with theory lessons on the importance of responsibility and good work ethics. When necessary it sees the need for assistance in everyday matters like clothing and transportation. It helps with the goal of positioning those who are helped to help themselves. Benevolence provides opportunity for somebody to do a good deed, and to promote productivity within the family or community.
"Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!" —Proverbs 6:6
“The ants are more diligent than slothful men. We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects, and be shamed by them.”1
“The habits of this insect, its diligence and providence, have in all ages made it the symbol of these two qualities.”2
Ants are exceptionally strong in comparison to their size. They use the talent of strength that they have, and accomplish phenomenal tasks in small strides. They believe in division of labor, and they pull their weight. Their system of organization makes them a threat to extensive food crops and large buildings. These are the habits which make them capable of remarkable productivity. Their wisdom and diligence make them worthy of imitation by human beings.
"Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop." —2 Corinthians 9:6
The law of planting and reaping is logical: few seeds produce small crops; lots of seeds produce large harvests. The principle is universal.
The farmer’s planting is a metaphor for giving and receiving in any commodity—financial investments, good deeds, labor. If productivity in labor is expected to be a generous yield, the effort must also be generous.
Generosity in the character of the individual also runs parallel to productivity in business. Adam Grant in Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success convinces readers that givers achieve more than takers who try to protect themselves from the competition by putting themselves first. He is known as a compulsive giver—practicing what he preaches. His New York Times Magazine profile states: “For Grant, helping is not the enemy of productivity . . . it is the mother lode, the motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity.”
"Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both." —Ecclesiastes 11:6
Gill’s Exposition on the Entire Bible interprets this verse as a mandate for the entire life span—the morning referring to youth and the evening referring to old age. “Good is to be done at all times, as opportunity offers, throughout the whole of life, and in all conditions and circumstances . . . make use of all opportunities.”3
Whether the morning and afternoon are understood as parts of a literal day or a life span as Gill suggests, the advice intends to prevent an idle period following a good start. Even if one period is unproductive and the next period brings the results, productivity is still possible. If all periods are productive, that is even better. Workers interested in the success of each other, will be persistent in reminding each other of these success principles.
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." —Ephesians 5: 15-16
“People are very apt to complain of bad times; it were well if that stirred them more to redeem time.”4
Bad times may drive some people into becoming careless and immoral. They may waste time in frivolity, get drunk and become hateful and hurtful. Productivity would not be on their agenda.
The same bad times can cause wise people to live cautiously. This verse encourages finding opportunities for progress no matter the circumstances. Nothing should bar the vision of productivity and prosperity, especially if there is genuine love and care for the beneficiaries.
Bible quotes in this article are from the New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.
1 and 2. Bible Hub: Matthew Henry's Concise Commentaries and Pulpit Commentary, Proverbs 6:6, Copyright 2004 - 2014 by Biblos.com
3. Ibid: Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Ecclesiastes 11:6.
4. Ibid: Matthew Henry's Concise Commentaries, Ephesians 5: 16
© 2014 Dora Weithers