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Many Christian writers have written much about Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha in Luke 10.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).

Most days, I identify more with Martha than Mary. Trying to live out the “Protestant work ethic,” and working in a ministry job, I want to be productive every moment of the day. It is hard for people like me just to “Be still and know (He) is God.” (Psalm 46:10).

At the same time, much of what passes for productivity today is, ultimately not so important. Trying to learn from Mary and Martha, here are three ways to be productive (or unproductive):

  1. Always take time to pray. I would be embarrassed for you to know how many times I’ve skipped prayer time or devotional time to rush off to work or some event. We see in the life of Christ Himself, and here with Mary, she put first things first. There is an old booklet called “Tyranny of the Urgent,” which helps us to distinguish between what is pressing and what is important. Praying is the most productive thing we can do, as we spend time in His Word.
  2. Put your cell phone away. The statistics show that the average person checks his or her cell phone 150 times a day. For some of us, the phone does not even need to ring or buzz. We check it on impulse. The next time you feel the urge to check your phone, channel that into prayer or some priority in front of you, such as the faces around you, not the ones on your screen.
  3. Focus on what or who’s in front of you. My wife and I have young children, who are growing up in a world of screens. In modern times, we are consistently drawn into screen time in cyberspace, away from what is going on in front of us. As one Christian said, Jesus came as a Person, not a pixel. It would have been easy for God to send us an email or text message with what He wanted us to know, but he came “in the flesh” (John 1). Created in His image, let’s live life where we are more than where the Internet masses are.

Like Martha, it is OK to be productive. But like Mary, we must know where the priority truly is. Only then, will we be the right kind of productive.