Thursday, March 20, 2014

What's Best Next

I recently picked up a copy of Matt Perman's What's Best Next. I was intrigued as it received rave reviews from Piper, among other guys I really appreciate. The book tackles the topic of productivity from a Christian perspective. More than that it seems like it will try and offer ways to implement the gospel message in everything we do. I've just started reading it so I figured I'd share a few of things that jumped out at me in the first number of pages.

And sometimes when things get overwhelming, it is suggested that we need to "take a retreat with Jesus."
But maybe we've had enough retreats with Jesus. Maybe Jesus wants us to learn how to get things done. Further, we often come back from such retreats with loads of new things to do. How do we make those things actually happen? We need to know how to execute—how to get things done and manage ourselves. Developing a great vision for the next quarter or year or season of our lives and ministries will not help much if we don't know how to translate that vision into action.
In fact, I would argue that this downplaying of the pracitical is not only discouraging but actually an (unwitting) failure of love. It's a failure of love because part of biblical conception of love is giving practical help to those who need it, and in our modern society this more and more needs to involve concrete insight on how to get things done and stay above water without burning out or ignoring your family.
Managing ourselves well is foundational to all we do. The importance of these things becomes more clear when we realize that our ability to lead, manage, spend undistracted time with friends and family, and do everything else we do depends largely upon a skill that goes underneath all of those things and makes them all possible—the cross-functional skill of knowing how to manage ourselves.

We weren't made to simply respond to stuff all day, but to take action and move things forward. If we don't give attention to the discipline of personal effectiveness but instead let the flow of events determine what we do, we will likely fritter ourselves away doing all sorts of urgent things that come our way while never getting to the truly important things.

The key for me was going back to the Scriptures. It wasn't until I more fully understood God's purposes for our lives and how they relate to the things we do every day that I was finally able to prioritize more effectively, get off the hamster wheel, and feel confident that the things I was getting done were actually things God wanted me to get done.

We also look at how the only way to be productive is to realize that we don't actually have to be productive (our goal is to please God, not to appease God), and how the gospel continues to give us peace of mind even when everything is blowing up around us.

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