September 30, 2014

What's Best Next? The Gospel and Getting Things Done

I picked this up to read and a friend immediately commented: “Is that one of those self-help books? What are you doing reading that?” I responded that I didn’t think it was, but would let them know when I’d read it.

With a recommendation list that includes a practical ‘who’s who’ of the modern Evangelical (U.S.A.) world, I was hoping for great things from this book. Set up in 7 Parts and an appendix described as a “Toolkit”, I dove straight in.

Simply, this is a book about getting things done. It has acronyms (GDT, GDP, POD, DARE) and short, pithy segments in each chapter. It also has “The Box” which comes at the end of each chapter, offering us a one sentence summary, further reading, and a point of application. It buzzes along at lightning pace. Matt wants us to be creative and productive, and he wants us to do it honouring God and glorying in the gospel. This is a book designed to help us know how to work.

Matt wants to develop Gospel Driven Productivity (GDP) in our lives. This, “is an approach to personal productivity that is based on the Scriptures without rejecting good common grace or being spiritually weird.” (p.71)

So, what is best next? The good of others. That should be the motive and criteria for our productivity and good works. He reminds us that networking is actually about others and ensuring we get the best and do good for others. We certainly covet this maxim at 20schemes. Our aim is to help churches reach poorer communities and be a blessing in these areas for the good of the gospel. We would rather support existing churches than start new ones, but we will plant if we have to (and are going to).

The book is full of good ideas and strategies for being more productive. I don’t think you will learn anything new if you’ve read these kind of books before, but it does offer a good refresher for the tired leader. It is full of helpful nuggets, such as this one about delegation. “We should practice stewardship delegation rather than gopher delegation.” (p.231) The difference between the two is that one is just getting things done but without any benefit to the organisation or the person (other than the one handing off responsibilities). The other builds a person up through the accomplishment of tasks. They learn through the process of doing and achieving. Young, immature leaders tend to hand things off to others for the sake of getting work off their hands rather than for building another up. A danger to be watchful for. We must win and train people, not just use them.

Generally, I found the book to be helpful. After all, what’s not to like about a book that concludes that Facebook use at work is more likely to make us more productive, not less (as long as we’re using it correctly)! At the end he includes a summary of the book in 500 words (which, if I’d been cleverer, I could have just read and skipped the preceding 300+ pages). He also includes a reading list and some links to his webpage.

Not a bad book to dip into now and again when feeling swamped by life and ministry. I’m going to stick it on the reading list for my church planters.

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