In his new book, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, Matt Perman presents a gospel-centered view of productivity and writes to show Christians how to maximize their productivity.
Effectiveness, Not Efficiency
So what did I learn from What’s Best Next? Productivity is not about getting as much stuff done as possible, but getting the right things done. Perman highlights this by contrasting effectiveness with efficiency. Efficiency is about getting things done more quickly and with less friction. But if you are doing the wrong things to begin with, efficiency only makes things worse. Under Genghis Khan, the Mongols were incredibly efficient at slaughtering millions of men, women, and children. However, their efficiency is grotesque and appalling because they were most certainly doing the wrong things! Effectiveness is about getting the right things done. As Christians we believe that God sets the agenda for what we should do with our lives. Therefore, getting the right things done should be important to us. The Bible describes this as doing the good works God has prepared for us (Eph. 2:10).
The amazing thing about gospel-driven productivity is thatMatt Perman says "Gospel-driven Christians are Christians who are enthusiastic in doing good not to gain acceptance with God but because they already have acceptance with God" (112). In other words, we are free to be truly productive because our acceptance by God is not affected if we fail. That is where true peace comes from. "Just as we do good works from justification rather than for justification, we are also to do good works from peace rather than for peace" (120). The gospel makes Christians able to be more productive than any other people on the planet.
I encourage you to consider reading What’s Best Next. It is a great opportunity to look at your life in light of the gospel and actually weave what you learn into the fabric of your life. One of Perman’s most profound points comes when he explains why so many people lack a sense of fulfillment in their lives. He says, "The deeper reason is that we feel unfulfilled when there is a gap between what is most important to us...and what we are actually doing with our time" (52). If you feel that way often, coming to understand Gospel-Driven Productivity can set you on course to close that gap and not only find personal fulfillment, but be a more faithful steward of the life God has given you.
What’s Best Next gives readers more than grand notions of productivity and good works, the second half of the book provides detailed principles and advice for how to close the gap between what is important and how you spend your time. The author explains how to set good goals, schedule your day, organize projects, keep to-do lists, and even process you email inbox down to zero, but he always keeps the big picture in mind. All of these systems and tools are there, not to enable us to get as much done as possible, but to get the right things done. As Christians we must strive to do what is important, not merely what is urgent. And that insight alone is enough reason to read the book.