By Wilmer Villacorta
Being productive was on top of the list; there was no room for complacency or rest. It did not matter how tiring a day was; after all, exhaustion felt like nothing in view of the achieved goals. Day after day, week after week — a mindset of achievement spoke highly of the team and especially of its leader. The team and Joe, its catalyst, could not be more proud.
How long would this mindset last? Is achievement what defines our humanity? Is there anything more significant that makes us unique and valuable? Max De Pree invites us “to ponder as [we] consider the heart and soul of leadership in a new and changing context … [who] do we intend to be?” How about we begin by reimagining our true essence as people made in the image of God, with our uniqueness expressed in fruitfulness that transcends achievement, time, and culture.
Maintaining an image of high productivity may be attainable, but one has to pay a price. Once one proves the capacity for meeting productivity expectations, quality and timely expectations are in place. At first, it is thrilling to meet deadlines and benchmarks, but as the weeks and months pass the deadlines and benchmarks become burdensome and life-consuming. The joy and excitement are long gone.
Fruitfulness outweighs productivity because it reflects our capacity to steward God’s creation. The essence of our humanity flows from fruitfulness, naturally. Our industrialized culture pressures leaders to simply produce without paying attention to who they are becoming. Leaders and followers resemble hamsters in an endless treadmill; their actions become repetitive, mind-numbing and mechanic. A dull and pervasive individualism has only nourished a static mindset of leadership that squelches the freedom to be fruitful.
Here are few right questions to ponder: “Am I living out a productive identity rather than a fruitful life? Am I limiting myself to a charisma-driven mode instead of a character-based life?” Henri Nouwen once said that “the great paradox of our lives is that we are often concerned about what we do or still can do, but we are most likely to be remembered for who we were.” Somehow we wish to skip the paradox of life and pursue our illusions of control and certainty.
Ultimately, the future will be a reflection of what the present dictates. If we intend to be what we achieve, our legacy will be limited by the accomplished tasks, productivity, and realized outcomes. But there is another path, the uniqueness of our humanity should no longer be measured by the temporal accomplishments of this life, but rather by what is lasting — the fruitfulness of an inspiring life.
Therefore, “who do we intend to be” is a great question, but to answer it may require a different imagination — an imagination that compels us to look beyond mere productivity and instead embraces fruitfulness, encouraging us “to bear fruit that will be lasting.”
Wilmer Villacorta currently lives in Colorado Springs and serves as a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School for Intercultural Studies, teaching for the Master of Arts in Global Leadership. He facilitates online courses from Fuller’s Colorado Regional Campus.
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