Presence and Productivity
“Presence is more rewarding than productivity.” (Annie Dillard)
Productivity is the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services. We all feel good when these describe our day, week, month, year, life. We feel successful.
Presence is the act of being, existing, or occurring at this time or now; current. Synonyms are being, companionship, company, and existence. True companionship — presence with another — satisfies a deep part in us that otherwise remains untouched.
Both productivity and presence begin with outward activity, and both satisfy an inward need. But there’s a distinct and crucial difference between the two.
Alone, productivity remains pretty close to the surface of defining who we are as individuals. It brings a sense of acceptance from our culture. Eventually, though, as our ability to be productive waxes and wanes and even slows to a stop at times, we realize the limits of what productivity does within and through us.
Presence, on the other hand, fills a deep need within every person to receive acceptance as they simply dwell with others. Presence fulfills and rewards at our core. It allows for a deep satisfaction not found any other way.
Presence, though, satisfies at a much deeper level than productivity because it creates purpose in our lives that fuels meaningful productivity. When presence exists with our Creator, joy and rest result (Psalm 16:11; Exodus 32:14). When presence happens within the body of Christ (i.e., other Christians), we experience help, health, and victory (Genesis 2:18; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
If you struggle with busyness and overload and have no idea how to create margin and find a simpler life, let me share a principle — a phrase, really, that bounces around in my head — it helped me when I was chronically overwhelmed and overloaded, and it helps keep me from getting to that point again.
When given a choice, always choose relationship. Always choose being fully present in your relationships over being productive. You’ll soon discover the productivity, at least in the areas that matter, happens not in spite of choosing presence but because of it.