A couple of years ago, I ran across a post from Loving Life at Home called “Doing Work That Will Endure.” The headline caught my attention, and I wrote it down to ponder later. I’ve returned to that phrase, “work that will endure,” repeatedly since then, and it has formed the basis for much of my daily activities, my planning, and my prioritizing. As I go about my days, I ask myself, “What am I doing that’s going to endure after a year, after this season, after my lifetime?”
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Thinking about my work this way keeps me motivated when I get tired, helps me prioritize my time and energy, keeps me from getting distracted by shiny opportunities, and serves as a rubric for deciding among all the different kinds of work I could be doing. This is the foundation upon which all my time management decisions are based. And it’s helping me fulfill the purposes God has given me.
Some days go by more quickly than I realize, and it’s easy to simply survive or get through the day. I can look back on an entire week and think, “What did I do? What did I accomplish?” The days have passed me by, and I can’t ever get them back. It’s usually not that I’ve been lazy, or even unproductive. My days are almost always full of errands, chores, and projects. But busyness doesn’t equal productivity, and productivity doesn’t necessarily mean progress or purpose, either.
That’s why I love this concept of doing work that will endure. What does it mean to do work that will endure? To me, it means considering the effects of my daily work in the weeks or months or years to come, and evaluating whether they help me accomplish my goals. It involves continually asking myself, “Is what I’m doing going to matter in the long run? Is it going to have any kind of lasting impact on my life or the lives of those around me?”
For me personally, it also means being more Kingdom-minded, since I know that my ultimate purpose is not to serve myself but to bring glory to my Heavenly Father and His agenda.
Some things that I do have obvious enduring effects — serving in my church, writing on this blog, and having my sons, for example.
Other tasks seem inconsequential but have more far-reaching impacts than what is apparent at first glance. Keeping a tidy home seems pointless at times (SO pointless), especially when it gets messy again 5 minutes later. But it contributes to the peace and order of our home and therefore has long-lasting effects on my family vision.
On the other hand, I could be so preoccupied with the state of my house that I miss out on opportunities to nurture my relationships. What is the more enduring work? What is going to matter more in ten years, keeping a pristine house, or developing a relationship with my family? Thinking about this helps keep my priorities in order and my life in balance.
While managing this delicate balance of busyness is usually my biggest struggle, there are also definitely days when I’m tempted to just coast and take it easy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a break once in awhile. In fact, this can sometimes be enduring work, as a short break can do wonders for returning to work with renewed vigor.
There is a difference, however, between taking a necessary break to recharge, and consistently doing the bare minimum.
In the workplace, I have external motivators making sure I continue working. But my days as a stay-at-home mom, I’m finding, require a lot more self-motivation. There is no boss, no due dates, no job performance evaluations, no promotions, and slim chances of getting fired. If I wanted to (and sometimes I’m very tempted), I could spend my days reading books, napping, and watching television.
However, when I consider this idea of doing work that will endure, I’m much less tempted to waste my time on things that have no long-lasting value. My resolve is strengthened to spend my time and energy on work that will matter to me in years to come and will even outlast my earthly life.
Motherhood requires a lot of energy, and it doesn’t help that we are pulled in so many different directions every single day. I know, I feel it, too. Some days I’m tempted to check out completely and coast. Other days I flit around from task to task, very aware of all the things I could be doing, but not knowing which ones I should do.
Two very different days, but both with the same solution. One little question that has revolutionized my life and brought peace and purpose to my days:
“Am I doing work that will endure?”
- Doing Work That Will Endure.
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