On Monday I posted that Dr. Michael Bird was coming to the seminary I attend. I was able to ask him a question about productivity, the answer to which I wanted to pass along to you guys.

Dr. Bird has a tremendous literary output, and I asked him what his work schedule was like to allow him to accomplish so much. He kindly answered me in some detail. He started off by telling me that he doesn’t watch much tv. He gets up at 6 am and is at work by 7. He works until 4 and goes home to spend time with the family. Every other night or so he works from 8 pm to 10 pm. I forget what he said about the weekends. He makes sure he writes 1000 words every day. This is a reduced schedule. He used to work from 8 pm to 1 am 6 days a week in addition to his morning work, but can’t keep that up anymore.

One thing he attributed his success to was discipline. He defined discipline as doing what you have to do before doing what you want to do. That’s helpful. Almost all of us would rather be watching tv or surfing the internet than reading hard books, or praying, or running sprints, or whatever discipline we are working on. The best put in the hours whether they feel like it or not.

I’m a foodie and love reading about top chefs, although being in seminary I can’t afford to go to their restaurants anymore. Their work ethic has always inspired me. A top restaurant expects their chefs to work 15 hours a day six days a week, many of them for free (to get experience). Of course this isn’t healthy or balanced, but I love people who push themselves towards excellence. Christian ministers need to be willing to devote themselves to God like cooks devote themselves to food. I don’t believe 15 hours a day is healthy even when it’s spent in ministry. But whatever it looks like for each of us, we need to pour our lives out before God remembering that our labors have eternal value and have great reward.

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