I love productivity. So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard about the 2023 E3 Pastor’s conference. This year’s theme is “Focused and Faithful: Dealing with Distractions and Demands in Ministry.” One of our guest speakers is Reagan Rose. He is working hard to help pastors and non-pastors be more focused and faithful in their lives and ministries. Below is a review of his recently released book Redeeming Productivity. I hope it will whet your appetite to read the book and also sign up to learn more from Reagan and others at the conference. It is hosted at Inter-City Baptist Church in Allen Park, MI, on October 19 and 20. Take advantage of the early bird discount by signing up before August 18. Use the link at the bottom of this page to register.
Reagan Rose is the founder of Redeeming Productivity, an online teaching ministry aimed at recapturing personal productivity for the sake of Christ.1 The problem with modern productivity is that it works. Many people read self-help books and improve their lives, get promoted, or get a raise, but “often hiding behind practical tips on time management, decision-making, or goal setting is a whole spectrum of worldly philosophies” (11). “The promise of secular productivity is a life of financial prosperity” (127). Productivity-minded Christians can often begin to adopt many worldly ideologies that drive modern productivity. So, what can be done? Reagan argues that Christians need to realize that productivity ultimately belongs to God and is done for Him, and it needs to be redeemed. He says, “Productivity has been hijacked, and it is time we take it back” (11). Christians can use some of the practical tips on time management. Often, these are very effective, but they cannot accept the underlying ideologies behind them. So, Reagan organizes his book into five pillars and practices. Each pillar is paired with a practice that best corresponds to that pillar.
The first pillar and practice lay the foundation for the whole productivity system in Redeeming Productivity. Pillar number one is, “You belong to God” (13). Reagan says, “‘It’s my life’ is a radical and often rebellious mode of thinking… And ‘it’s my life’ is the fundamental assumption behind the spirit of our age” (13–14). Reagan shares a bit of his own journey in this chapter. He first got into productivity to reinvent himself and improve his life. However, the downside was that the primary motivation was selfishness. He says, “The focus was always me. This is the origin of all unchristian productivity. It is a selfish desire for self-improvement for self’s sake” (15–16). So, redeemed productivity flips the script on this kind of thinking. There are only two choices. Reagan says, “No matter how you slice it, we want to be productive either to serve ourselves or to serve God” (18). Among Christians, there is no sovereign individual. Christians are not the captain of their own destiny. They belong to God.
Having established that productivity exists to serve God, Reagan also takes a section to define productivity. He says that, when most people talk about productivity, they mean “how efficiently and consistently an individual can complete important tasks. This is how I plan to use the word in this book. Productivity is about efficiently accomplishing the right things” (17). Many productivity authors will tell their readers how to accomplish many things. Few focus on the important things. Reagan’s focus on what is important is a core strength of the book. Speaking of what is important leads nicely into the first practice—morning routines.
Practice number one gives the reader an excellent framework for crafting a morning routine. The morning routine is the cornerstone of the productivity system. Reagan calls it a keystone habit. “‘Keystone habit’ is the term Charles Duhigg uses to describe ‘small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives’” (26). Reagan roots the concept of a morning routine in the firstfruits principle found throughout Scripture. Solomon tells us, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce” (Prov. 3:9). Reagan says, “By giving God the first and best of what you had produced, you were acknowledging that it all belongs to Him anyway” (29). Remember the pillar that this practice is paired with, “You belong to God.” He continues, “In the same way, when you spend the first moments of your day praying, reading Scripture, and doing other activities that prime you to be productive, you are offering God the firstfruits of your day” (30). Reagan uses the acronym “POWER” to help the reader remember the steps for a productive morning (30). The five steps are: (1) Prayer, (2) Organization, (3) Word, (4) Exercise, and (5) Reading and Writing. On their own or done haphazardly, these are not very effective, but a key point in this chapter is that “big change comes from simple daily habits” (31). Note that these five steps are not in chronological order. Redeemed productivity is all about doing the right things, not just getting many things done. These habits done consistently will result in spiritual growth and a productive walk with God, not for self-improvement’s sake but to serve God effectively because “you belong to Him.”
These are only the first of the five pillars and practices. So, why should you read this book? There is very little negative to say about it. Redeeming Productivity is consistently Biblical. Reagan works hard to quote Scripture and draw on practical wisdom from the Bible. It is short. It is amazing that so much truth and wisdom is packed into only one hundred and fifty pages. The chapters are organized well; usually, one pillar of productivity is followed by a corresponding practice in productivity. Redeeming Productivity is an excellent resource to give to any Christian wanting to be more effective in life and ministry. Reagan has done well in writing a concise yet thorough introduction to productivity. Productivity books today are so full of false ideology that reading them is like looking for a steak in a garbage can. Sure, you might find a steak. Just like you might find some good nuggets of truth in many secular books. But is it worth digging through and spitting out all the ideological garbage? Alternatively, you could read Redeeming Productivity, where you will be served a steak in a five-star restaurant.
1This review will be published in the upcoming issue of the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal. It is reproduced here with permission.