The other day, I was watching a biography of Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon was a well-known pastor during the late 1800's. He pastored a church that grew very large under his leadership, while writing approximately 150 books, publishing a magazine, founding an orphanage, establishing a pastors' college, and starting many other ministries (a large percentage of which are still operating).
It's fascinating to consider how much good he was able to accomplish during the course of his life. It can certainly be said that Spurgeon was spiritually gifted and blessed, but there are some additional traits he exhibited that I think are also worth noting, particularly if we also want to become more productive and get more accomplished during the limited time we have.
1. Understand what needs to get done
Spurgeon understood what he was called to do. He was obedient to the Lord's leading in his life and he devoted his efforts to accomplishing these tasks. He could see the big picture. He didn't need to do someone else's job, only his. He also didn't spend a lot of time on tasks that were secondary in importance. He stayed focused on what he was supposed to be doing and he could articulate his mission.
Do you understand, and can you articulate the primary mission the Lord is calling you to complete?
2. Create a schedule and keep to it
Spurgeon kept an organized daily and weekly schedule. He knew which days of the week, and which hours during those days he would be working on sermons, showing hospitality to others in his home, meeting with people, training young pastors, and responding to correspondence. If you asked him what task he would be working on next Tuesday at 3:00 PM, he could tell you. He got things done because he organized his schedule around his calling, goals, and objectives.
Do you have an organized weekly and daily schedule that you faithfully follow?
3. Eliminate sloth and time-wasters from your schedule
Because Spurgeon created a schedule and kept to it, he was also able to avoid sloth and prevent time-wasters from creeping into his life. In our day, a vast percentage of people spend much of their time watching TV, playing video games, staring at their phones, or getting lost in a trail of YouTube videos. I think the concept of wasting that much time on brainless activity would have seemed repugnant to Spurgeon. I think he would consider it particularly tragic in the case of those who shared a similar calling to his.
What time-wasters would need to be eliminated from your schedule in order to enhance your productivity and effectiveness?
4. Surround yourself with a team that helps you get things accomplished
As Spurgeon's ministry grew, he made a point to surround himself with a team of people who could help him get more accomplished. He utilized volunteers, and employed assistants and secretaries who could help him edit his writings, respond to correspondence, and keep things organized. This team of people understood the mission they were being called to partner on with Spurgeon, and they magnified the effectiveness of the ministries they served in together.
Are you surrounding yourself with a team of people who share the mission the Lord has given you, and working with them to accomplish that mission?
5. Schedule time for prayer and rest
Spurgeon was often busy, but he regularly scheduled time for rest. One of his favorite places to visit and find relief from his busy schedule, was the coast of France. While there, he would enjoy the pleasant climate, take a pause from the many demands on his time, and spend additional time in prayer. As he did so, he was able to return to his regular labors rejuvenated, refreshed, and energized to accomplish his work with renewed vigor.
Do you schedule adequate time for prayer and rest in your weekly and yearly schedule?
6. Don't neglect your family
Spurgeon was blessed with a wife, Susannah, and twin sons, Charles and Thomas. Spurgeon sincerely loved them and was committed to their spiritual, emotional, and relational health. Even though there were many demands on his time, he didn't consider it a burden to spend time and energy on his family. They in turn loved and respected him. The proving ground for Spurgeon's authority to lead his congregation was his home. As he loved and led his family well, so too was he able to shepherd the church under his oversight.
How do you show your family that they're loved and valued by you?
It's nice to be productive and get things done, but we also need to be mindful to get the "right things" done. The Lord hasn't just called us to be busy. He's called us to be faithful to His mission for us. Thankfully, as we continually trust in Jesus, we are blessed with His strength and wisdom for our tasks. And we can be thankful as well for the examples of faithful productivity we've been given from men like Charles Spurgeon.
© John Stange, 2019