Jordan Raynor: Work-Life Balance: Purposeful, Present, & Wildly Productive
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Jordan RaynorJordan Raynor is the author of four books including the bestseller “Redeeming Your Time: 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present and Highly Productive,” and the children’s book “The Creator in You.” He helps Christians respond to the radical, biblical truth that their work matters for eternity. He does this through his books, “The Call to Mastery” podcast, and weekly devotional (“The Word Before Work”)—content that has served millions of Christ-followers in every...more
Work-life balance feel out of reach? Author Jordan Raynor describes better ways to reach your full potential, using Jesus own time-management strategies.
Jordan Raynor: Work-Life Balance: Purposeful, Present, & Wildly Productive
FamilyLife Today® National Radio Version (time edited) Transcript
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Work-Life Balance: Purposeful, Present, and Wildy Productive
Guest: Jordan Raynor
From the series: Redeeming Your Time (Day 2 of 2)
Air date: September 30, 2022
Ann: So what percentage of Americans do you feel like are stressed and overwhelmed right now?—what percentage? What do you think?
Dave: I looked it up.
Ann: You cheater.
Dave: I mean, you know, you’ve got a phone in your hand, and you’re like/I was honestly thinking, as we were coming out of the pandemic—and it said 83 percent of Americans feel stressed—they have symptoms like yelling at their spouse, uncontrolled mood swings. I just thought, “Wow; we are living in a world that is chaotic.”
Ann: And it’s affecting us; it’s affecting our marriages; and it’s really affecting our kids.
Dave: Yes, and I think one of the things that is underestimated, and I’m excited to talk about it today, is rest/Sabbath rest.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: Sabbath rest, I think, does a soul good; it does our bodies good; it does a marriage and family good.
Ann: What is that word? What’s that word mean, “rest”? We don’t do that very well.
Dave: Let’s talk about it. We’ve got Jordan Raynor back in the studio with us. Jordan, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Jordan: Thanks for having me.
Dave: Your book, Redeeming Your Time—the subtitle is 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful,—that I expected—Present,—we talked about that yesterday a little bit, and then you have this phrase—and Wildly Productive—not just productive—
Dave: —wildly productive.
Ann: I like it.
Dave: Honestly, I pick it up; I’m like, “That is what I want”; right? I know you talk to corporations; you help leaders—
Ann: —you’re an author.
Dave: —you name it; you do it all—you’ve written books.
I love how you love how God creates and created us to create; but as you think about being productive/wildly productive, help us understand rest because I know it’s one of your principles to help us be productive. How does rest fit in there?
Jordan: It’s this counterintuitive idea that there are, at least, three God-designed rhythms of rest that make us more productive for our goals that we are chasing after in life—and I think, most importantly, for our souls—they are a way of preaching the gospel to ourselves and reminding ourselves that we’re not the ones keeping the world spinning. So really quickly they are:
Number 1: “Bi-hourly breaks”—taking breaks, roughly every two hours, throughout your workday. That’s how you can ensure you are maximally productive.
Number 2: “Getting an eight-hour nightly sleep opportunity”—which I know sounds insane, but the science is really clear.
Then, Number 3: “Weekly Sabbath.” There is more and more data coming out, showing that people who observe the Sabbath on a regular basis, live longer. Corporations who recognize the Sabbath with their teams are strongly out-performing their competitors.
None of this should surprise us because it’s how God worked; right? We don’t have to wonder, “Oh, what is the ideal mix of work and rest?” God tells us in Genesis 1 and 2—He worked six days, and He rested one Sabbath—the way that God intended it to be is for man.
We’ve just discovered it as this beautiful—we call it an “Island of Get-To in a Sea of Have-To”—is this life-giving day that has become truly the life blood of our family.
Dave: So what does that look like for the Raynors? You have three little girls; you are married. I mean, it’s easy to sit here and talk about Sabbath, which means a day of rest; so do you actually do Sabbath?
Jordan: It’s hard to do; because as parents know, there is no such thing as a day off from “work.”
Jordan: Parenting my kids is way harder work than going to my office; right? So for us, we Sabbath from Saturday sundown to Sunday sundown; and ironically, it starts with work. We were just talking, before we recorded, about when you go over the Holy Land, watching people prepare for Sabbath; it’s a big deal because it takes a lot of work to rest for 24 full hours:
- We are cleaning up the house.
- We are running the dishwasher.
- We are planning out what we want for food the next day.
- We are making plans with family and friends for Sunday, and then we shut everything off. If there are dishes left in the sink, they are going to stay there for 24 hours.
Ann: So, wait—you’re not even doing dishes?!
Jordan: No dishes, no taking out the trash, no productive talk about work—we truly cease—I think about the Keith and Kristyn Getty song [In Christ Alone], “all strivings cease.” We stop doing things that we have to do; but for us, it’s far less about what we don’t do and far more about what we do partake in on Sabbath. We spend more time in God’s Word because we let our kids watch a full-length movie; it’s like a Sabbath Sunday-only treat. They watch a full-length movie and drink a hot cup of coffee—please don’t judge—yes, I have young kids drinking lattes every Sunday morning.
We feast on God’s Word; we feast with great food—we eat our favorite take-out; we get donuts from our favorite spot in town—and then we go to church and feast with our church family on the Word and in worship. Then we come home; and usually, Sunday afternoons are pretty low-key. Again, nothing life-sucking—we’re not vacuuming; we’re not picking up the house—we’re just playing games, swimming in the pool with the kids.
Ann: Jordan, there is work to be done! There are things around the house that need to be done! It is my only day, and you are saying, “Nope!”
Jordan: Not for us; we cram it all into Saturday. We get all that housework done on Saturday that we need to get done. Honestly—again, I alluded to this before—this helps me be more productive during the week. But I honestly think it’s mostly a means of stopping and recognizing—as a child/I’m a child of God before I’m a worker bee of God—I have a relationship. I can experience love and acceptance from the Father, even when I’m not doing a single thing. You want to like refuel your engines?—you want to recharge?—rest in that love. Rest in the gospel by, literally, resting with your hands and experiencing that love that is regardless of our output.
Dave: The thing that I think, as I was reading through Redeeming Your Time, is you don’t expect that to be one of the seven principles. You know, it’s like: “I want to be wildly productive: I’ve got to get things done; I’ve got to have a plan,”—that’s all in there—but you make it a big priority that: “No, rest actually gets better results.”
Jordan: And I make it a big priority, because it was a priority for Jesus and God, the Father, who observed the Sabbath.
Listen, we can get into all sorts of debates: “Is Sabbath commanded or not?”—blah, blah, blah. Here is the deal: to work and rest, in the image of God, is to work six days and rest one.
Ann: And He’s done that for us for our own good.
Jordan: He’s done it for—exactly!
Dave: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Jordan: —not for the Sabbath. And think about this: “God didn’t need to rest in the beginning, so why did He do it?”
I was thinking about this the other day, when I was crossing the street with my kids. I was crossing the street with my five-year-old. When I cross the street with my five-year-old, I make a big to-do about looking both ways. I dramatically swing my head to the left and say, “No cars this way.” I dramatically swing my head to the right and say the same thing. Now, I don’t need to do that; I could check for cars in a split second, but I do it because my daughter needs it.
I think this has got to be part of the reason why God rested in the beginning. He didn’t need to, but He knew that we would need to; so He is modeling it for us, like any good parent does for their children.
Dave: You’re saying your job/your production is going to be exponentially better if you actually obey this commandment.
Jordan: I’ve seen it in my own life. I’m on, by far, the most productive streak of my entire life; let’s call it the last five years.
It’s funny—I was travelling this summer on vacation with my family—and I saw a mentor, who has been mentoring me for about a decade, who I hadn’t seen in quite a few years/probably five or six years. Afterwards, he texted me and said, “I don’t know what it is, but you are so much more at peace, so much less anxious, and just so much more rested than I’ve seen you ever in your life.” He even went out of his way to say, “And it’s not vacation rest; this is different.” He is a serious believer, and I just shot back/I just said, “Sabbath.”
Dave: It’s amazing that he said that to you, at this season of your life, because you are in one of the busiest, with a seven-year-old, a five-year-old, and two-year-old.
Dave: Most of our listeners are going, “There is no way this dude is living where I’m living, because you can’t rest with that season of your life”; but you are choosing, even in the craziest time—and it’s going to get even crazier when they become teenagers—I have a feeling you are going to keep doing it.
Jordan: I think we will. I’ve got to make this clear, too, because a lot of people ask me: “Well, there is no way you and your wife can do this.” My wife experiences the Sabbath as much as I do. We both get eight hours of sleep; this is possible. I didn’t even think it was possible—for the record, I got six/seven hours of sleep forever; I didn’t Sabbath forever—but it is possible, with God’s grace and the right tools—and live a life more in line with what we see in Jesus’s life and the Gospels.
Ann: Well, I love this part of it. Now, let’s get to the other part—we have rest—but let’s talk about work, too, because one of the things you talk about is: “Work is worship,” and how God gave us work before the fall—it was a gift to us—so let’s kind of get into this area a little bit.
Jordan: I think we’ve neglected this a lot; in the church, we’ve forgotten this:
Number 1: “God Himself worked.” Before He told us that He is loving, or holy, or omnipotent—Genesis 1:1—He told us He is a God who is creative. This is totally unique in the history of world religions. Every other origin story says that the gods created human beings to do the lowly manual labor in the world and serve the gods. Only Christianity starts with the God, who works both: with His Word/see Genesis 1—and with His hands, planting a garden in the east in Eden—see Genesis 2.
Ann: And He formed Adam with His hands out of the dust.
Jordan: Exactly; right. Tim Keller commenting on this/said, “God did manual labor.” I don’t think that is heretical; I think that’s spot-on. So number 1: “God works.”
And to your point, He created human beings to work, prior to the fall. Genesis 1:26-28 says, “God blessed them and said, ‘Fill the earth and subdue it,’”—and said create, and work, and rule, and subdue. Work was the blessing. Now, of course, we all know Genesis 3—human beings sinned—work became difficult and toilsome.
But here is the end of the story—that nobody is talking about in the church today, and it drives me nuts—one day, work is going to be perfect worship, once again. Heaven is not in the clouds, playing harps for all eternity; it is here on earth. Isaiah 65 says, “God’s chosen ones”—that us, who are in Christ Jesus—“will long enjoy the work of their hands”; it’s a beautiful promise. If you hate your job today, it is a beautiful promise. But even if you love your job—man, hopefully, this fuels your joy, and your anticipation, and your motivation—to go out there and share the gospel with your kids, with your neighbors, and with those you work with.
Dave: Now, have you always been this guy?
Dave: Was there ever a time when you were not redeeming the time, your job was a chore? I’m just looking at you, like, “Okay; is this how you came out of the womb?
Ann: I’m like, “Who is he?”
Dave: “Is this something you’ve just cultivated over years?”
Jordan: I haven’t cultivated a thing—the Lord has done this in me—let’s get crystal clear about that. I will say this: I went years—the first five years of my career—having no idea that my worked mattered to God. I was working as a tech entrepreneur; I’m still chairman of the board of a big tech start-up I used to run.
I believed what my church was teaching me implicitly—and if I’m frank, sometimes, explicitly—that if I really loved Jesus, I would go move to a mud hut, 5,000 miles away from home; or I would go plant a church; I would be a pastor or “full-time missionary,”—listen—we need more of those; I’m all about that. If God is calling you to that, please go do that.
Jordan: But it took a mentor, pulling me aside one day; because I was thinking about planting a church. He just looked me in the eye; and he’s like, “That sounds really dumb to me.” This is a guy who led Bible studies at my church; this is a guy who I really respect, and I didn’t understand. He said, “Jordan, I’ve seen you serve your customers and your team through the ministry of excellence. I have seen you feel the Father’s pleasure as you do your work as an entrepreneur. I’ve seen you even attempt to make disciples as you’ve run your businesses. Why do you think you have to go plant a church to ‘do ministry’?”
I had never heard that perspective before; but then I started reading what Luther wrote/ what Calvin wrote—calling us all priests of the kingdom—whether we are milkmaids, or farmers, or bankers, or whatever, all of us are doing God’s work. I went back and read Genesis 1 and 2, and my mind was blown so much so that, now, I am creating this content, full time, because I think every Christian needs to hear: “You are not on the sidelines of kingdom work. God has drafted all of us into service; He has called all of us to go and make the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.” Redeeming your time is a critical component to being able to do that effectively.
Ann: So when you hear people say: “Man, I can’t wait to retire,” “I want to retire,” “If I could retire at 60, that would be ideal. I just want to play golf,” what are your thoughts?
Jordan: It saddens me—I don’t feel condemnation towards that—although, I don’t see any biblical support for the idea of retirement. It makes me sad, because I think this is a pervasive idea that is built on this unbiblical lie that what we do 40 and 50 hours a week has no bearing on eternity. This is a lie straight from the devil. All throughout Jesus’s ministry/all throughout Scripture, it is teaching us that what we do, mysterious as it might seem, has a chance of impacting and even shaping heaven by doing our work with excellence and with love—and most importantly—in accordance with God’s commands.
We are not waiting for the kingdom to appear in a flash. Jesus said it was going to come slowly like a mustard seed. He said it was going to come slowly like yeast working its way through a bunch of dough; and it comes, at least, in part through the Spirit working through you and me. That’s the mission of the church, and all of us are a part of that story.
Dave: Yes; I know that, as a pastor, I often said from the pulpit—and I don’t think people believed me—but I often said, “I’m jealous of what you do.” I think they are sitting there, thinking, “Oh, I’m jealous. I’d like to be/you’re in full-time ministry.”
I’m like, “No, no; you are a full-time Christian worker in a setting I will never get to be in—in a cubicle in a business, or a plumber in somebody’s house, or a doctor, or a stay-at-home mom—you name it.” I was like, “You get to meet people I’ll never meet. You’ll reach out in a way I never could. They are never going to come listen to me preach, but you have been gifted by God in a different way. It’s so exciting to use that.”
I think, so often, they feel like, “No, no, no; it’s a lesser calling.” No, it is a high calling to understand: “My gift is to be used to glorify God.” But it isn’t so much what I do;”—although it is—"it’s who and how I’m interacting with”; right?
Jordan: That’s my understanding of it.
Oh, by the way, we were talking about this, a little bit earlier before the program: we are entering into a period of history, where people just aren’t walking into the doors of a church to learn about Jesus for the first time; they’re not! So where are they going to see the One true God? They are going to see Him, working alongside you in your office. They are going to see Him, if you are a filmmaker, in the films that you create that subtly—and maybe, sometimes explicitly—point to Jesus.
They are going to see Jesus in culture, which is why the church, now more than ever, has to do what they did in the beginning, which is scatter. We think of Paul as this guy, who spent all of his time preaching, post-Damascus. That is a lie; Paul chose to work as a tent maker; why?—so that he could win the respect of outsiders; see 1 Thessalonians. We’ve got to do the same thing.
Oh, by the way, we love preaching the Great Commission and Jesus’s words in Matthew: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Dave, I’m sure you know this; I’m sure you’ve studied the original Greek here.
Dave: You’re going to go into the participle.
Jordan: Let’s go!—aorist tense. Alright, grammar nerds: put your glasses up onto your face; here we go. The Greek word that we translate “to go”—in “go make disciples”—is what grammar nerds call an aorist tense passive participle, which means that our modern translations of this verse are actually pretty poor. A much better translation is: “As you are going, make disciples.” The going was assumed.
Oh, by the way, Jesus never went more than a couple hundred miles away from his hometown; and He is the greatest disciple-maker the world has ever known. It wasn’t about how far He went; it was about what He did while He was going.
Ann: I think that changes everything; because as we are doing that—if we have that in our minds and our perspective—it allows us to raise our heads to see people, to ask God, “God, how do You want to use me today in my job?” I’m thinking of stay-at-home moms, who are at the parks with their kids; you know? I remember I wasted so much time in that stage in my life, thinking, “I have no life.” I was around all these other moms; and I had an opportunity just to see them, to talk to them, to love them.
Dave, I’m thinking of you and all the times that you’ve coached teams—and those times that you would encourage guys or boys that you coached and other dads—like, you impacted so many dads. When we can lift our heads and see people the way Jesus does, we really are walking out the gospel.
Dave: And I would just add: you know, you want to redeem your time—as a man, as a woman, as a worker—as you are walking into your job, whatever job that would be—pray, “God, use me today to shine for You and lead people to You.” I cannot tell you the guys I got to lead to Christ, as a high school football coach, not because I got them to come to my church; but because, standing on a sideline, I had conversations. They asked me questions like—like one guy said, “Why don’t you curse? Every other coach curses; you don’t curse.” “Oh, let me tell you…” It was just amazing to think, “God wants us to redeem our time, and He wants to use it to bring glory back to Himself.”
Shelby: Yes, such simple ways to keep our eyes open to how the Lord can use us if we are paying attention; so good. That’s Dave and Ann Wilson with Jordan Raynor on FamilyLife Today. Don’t go anywhere. In just a minute, we will hear from Jordan on how doing something well—even something simple like time management—it can be a way to reach those around you with the hope of Jesus.
But first, Jordan’s book is called Redeeming Your Time: 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present, and Wildly Productive. If you or someone you know could use some help with using your time well—I think that is everybody—you can get a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, I’ve got the president of FamilyLife, David Robbins, with me. David, all this talk about spending time wisely—I don’t know about you—but it gets me thinking about kind of the most important things in life; right?
David: You know, as we are wrapping up this week, it’s been an end of the week, where I’ve just been reflecting a lot—reflecting on ministry, and life, and all that God is doing—it has me reflecting on those of you, who are FamilyLife Partners, people who give monthly, that allows FamilyLife to do ministry. Because what happens, when you give, is that you change families—you change families with the power of the gospel—you change families by bringing God’s Word, and the grace and truth of God’s Word, to more and more people.
Recently, we heard from a FamilyLife Today listener, who told us—and I’m quoting her here—“I keep coming back to listen, because FamilyLife constantly offers hope through the gospel of Jesus. I need to be pointed to Jesus, and they do this all the time. This podcast encourages me to hope in Jesus. Thank you to the FamilyLife crew.”
I just want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who give in an ongoing way. You help us bring the gospel every day, and bring the depths of who Jesus is, to homes around the world. If you are interested in becoming a FamilyLife Partner, and changing one home at a time, I want to invite you to give and be a part of pointing families to Jesus every day.
Shelby: Yes, that’s what it is all about. Thanks, David.
You know, all this week, with your donation, as our “Thanks,” we want to send you Bob Lepine’s latest book, Build a Stronger Marriage. We’ll send you a copy when you give this week at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call with your donation at 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Alright; now, here is Jordan Raynor on how something—even like good time management—can be an opportunity to reach those around you with the hope of Jesus.
Jordan: If we are distinctly Christian: we are doing our work so exceptionally well; we are redeeming our time; we are the most productive people in the office—but at the same time, not anxious, and observing the Sabbath, and not checking emails at midnight—people are going to ask, “Why?” It is other-worldly; people can’t understand it. We ought to be living our lives and doing our work in ways, which people have to ask the question, to which the only answer is: “Jesus Christ.” That’s how the kingdom is going to come, in part, through us just being faithful in those things, day in and day out.
Shelby: Yes; living life strangely different from the world will inevitably cause people to scratch their heads and wonder what that difference is in us; such an important perspective from Jordan Raynor.
Now, coming up next week, the Wilsons are joined by former baseball player Chris Singleton to tell a heartbreaking story of how the grief of losing his mother turned into a story of hope.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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