As we start the new work-week, I thought I would change things up a little and start with some thoughts of Matt Perman in his recent book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan, 2014).
Last night I read the next chapter, “Why We Need to Be God-Centered in Our Productivity”, and found some significant statements about how we as Christians ought to go about our daily work. While drawing on the earthly wisdom of secular businessmen, Perman is quick to note the deficiencies in their counsel to workers, especially when it comes to the reality of sin and the curse as it affects our labors in this present world.
In this chapter he notes that there are three “villains” that we confront in our work in this modern age: ambiguity (with so many things coming at me, how do I know what to do?), overload (with so much to do, I feel stressed!), and lack of fulfillment (even after doing so much, my soul and life feel empty). After pointing out that contemporary time management theories have attempted to address this latter “villain” – calling for “principle-centered leadership”, Perman contends that this does not go far enough. What he says we must have is God-centered time management, because only God in Christ can supply the need for that lack of fulfillment.
With this we are in hearty agreement. Here are some of his thoughts on this subject:
The center of your life is your source of guidance, security, and meaning. To be God-centered, then, is to make God the source of your guidance, security, and meaning. It is to put him first in your life, to regard him as more impotant than anything else, to make his glory the chief aim of your life, to do everything you do to please and honor him, and to live your life in relationship with him.
…Consider Ephesians 5:17, the fundamental New Testament passage on time management. This passage speaks of time management as not being chiefly about applying correct principles to our lives but being about understanding ‘the will of the Lord’ and doing it. Productivity is specifically about doing ‘the will of the Lord.’ It’s about specifically orienting our lives and decisions around God’s will. We are to ultimately be Christ-centered, not just principle-centered.
This is life altering. The most important reality in the universe is not a set of principles, but a person. As a result, our aim becomes not simply to value certain truths but to please, honor, and love God. It makes productivity personal in the fullest sense, and makes our whole lives one of fellowship with God, rather than a following of principles [As Reformed Christians, we can see the covenant in that language!] (54-55).