Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Favorite Books on Faith and Work, Calling and Productivity

I have a passion for integrating my faith and my work and talking to others about how to do it. Over the past few years, I’ve read a number of helpful books in the faith and work, calling and productivity genres. Below are my favorites:

Five Books on Integrating Faith and Work

  • Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller with Katherine Leary. Keller helps to illuminate the transformative and revolutionary connection between the Christian faith and the workplace. He encourages believers to think about their work through the lens of a Christian worldview. He structures the book around three questions: Why do we want to work? Why is it so hard to work? How can we overcome the difficulties and find satisfaction in our work through the gospel? This book introduced me to Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith and Work, something I would like to model in my community.
  • Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson. Nelson looks at Os Guinness’ discussion of our primary and secondary callings in his excellent book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life and focuses on our secondary calling (to do a specific work) in this book. He looks at work through a biblical lens in the first section of the book and focuses on how God shapes our lives in and through our work in the second section.  The author, who is a pastor, includes helpful “Questions for Reflection and Discussion” and a “Prayer for Our Work” at the end of each chapter. He mentions that the Center for Faith and Work at Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church (mentioned above) has been a catalyst for his church to think more intentionally about equipping their congregation in vocational mission.
  • God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith. This book is an exposition of the doctrine of vocation and an attempt to apply that doctrine in a practical way to our life in the twenty-first century. He first looks at the nature of vocation: the purpose of vocation, how to find our vocation, how God calls us to different tasks and how He is present in what we do in our lives. Then he looks at specific vocations (as a worker, in the family, as a citizen, and in the church), and specific problems common to them all.
  • Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman. This is a book about vocational stewardship that is primarily written for pastors and ministry leaders, particularly those already committed to leading missional churches (those that seek to follow King Jesus on the mission of making all things new). It would be an excellent book for these leaders to recommend to those they lead to help them integrate their faith and work.
  • Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber. The author invites the reader to “come and see” that the vision of vocation he writes about is being lived out by men and women who are committed to a faith that shapes a vocation that in turn shapes culture. He writes that there is not a more difficult task that human beings face than to know the world and still love it. A recurring question that he asks throughout the book is “Knowing what I know, what will I do?” This book is best read slowly as he weaves in stories to illustrate his points.

Two Books on Calling

  • The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness. The author writes that there is no deeper meaning than to discover and live out your calling. He states that there is no calling without a Caller, and if there is no Caller, there are no callings, only work. He states that it is never too late to discover your calling, which is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success. He discusses our primary and secondary callings and the two distortions (Catholic and Protestant) that have crippled the truth of calling. An excellent abridged version of this book is available entitled Rising to the Call.
  • The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins. This book is an excellent introduction to the subject of calling. It’s easy to read, interesting and practical. The book is organized into three major sections – Preparation, Action and Completion. In those sections he covers seven overlapping stages of calling – Awareness, Apprenticeship, Practice, Discovery, Profession, Mastery and Legacy. In each stages he uses interesting stories to illustrate the stage. In the Appendix, he includes a summary of the seven stages, seven signs you’ve found your calling and seven exercises to complete. He also includes questions for discussion that will be helpful if you’re reading and discussing the book with others.

Two Books on Productivity

  • Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. This new book is an extremely efficient, well-organized, easy to read and practical book. The author’s aim is to help the reader do more of what matters most and do it better. He writes that our productivity depends to a good degree on identifying and using the best tools (management, scheduling and information), for the job and then growing in your proficiency with them. He also discusses concepts such as a “Weekly Review” and includes helpful “Action Steps” at the end of each section.
  • What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. The author states that the book is about getting things done and making ideas happen with less friction and frustration from a biblical perspective. He helps the reader think about productivity as Christians. He aims to help us live the life that God has called us to live and live it with maximum effectiveness and meaning. He introduces us to the concept of Gospel Driven Productivity, which looks at not only what the Bible has to say about getting things done, but also learns from the best secular thinking. He uses the DARE Model – Define, Architect, Reduce, and Execute.

These are my favorite faith and work, calling and productivity books. Do you have others to add to the list?

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Faith and Work ~ Quotes on Productivity

Do More Better20 Quotes from Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies

Here are 20 helpful quotes from Tim Challies new book Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity:

Productivity—true productivity—will never be better or stronger than the foundation you build it upon.

Productivity is not what will bring purpose to your life, but what will enable you to excel in living out your existing purpose.

  • The simple fact is, you are not the point of your life. You are not the star of your show. If you live for yourself, your own comfort, your own glory, your own fame, you will miss out on your very purpose. God created you to bring glory to him.
  • Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.
  • You are responsible before God to excel in productivity.
  • Although we complain about being busy, we also find that it validates us, as if we have only two choices before us: doing far too little or far too much. We somehow assume that our value is connected to our busyness.
  • Busyness and laziness are both issues that arise from within. They are deficiencies in character that then work themselves out in our lives.
  • Busyness may make you feel good about yourself and give the illusion of getting things done, but it probably just means that you are directing too little attention in too many directions, that you are prioritizing all the wrong things, and that your productivity is suffering.
  • The absence of productivity or the presence of woefully diminished productivity is first a theological problem. It is a failure to understand or apply the truths God reveals in the Bible.
  • You have limited amounts of gifting, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm, but unlimited ways of allocating them. For this reason productivity involves making decisions about how to allocate these finite resources.
  • Your primary pursuit in productivity is not doing more things, but doing more good.
  • You rely on tools to do work you cannot do yourself or to do tasks better than you could otherwise do them.
  • We are committed to productivity and to a distinctly Christian understanding of it. Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. The reason we use these tools is that they enable us to be most effective in that calling.
  • Doing good to others and bringing glory to God is not something you can possibly think about every moment of every day, even though it is what you are called to every moment of every day.
  • A productivity system is a set of methods, habits, and routines that enable you to be most effective in knowing what to do and in actually doing it. An effective system involves identifying, deploying, and relying on appropriate tools. When functioning together, these tools enable you to operate smoothly and efficiently, dedicating appropriate time and attention to the most important tasks.
  • Getting things done is not only a matter of managing time, but also a matter of managing energy.
  • You do not exist in this world to get things done. You exist to glorify God by doing good to others. Remind yourself often of this important truth.
  • Your responsibility is to plan, organize, and execute to the best of your ability, but to realize that circumstances and providence may interrupt and delay even your best laid plans.
  • Prayer is an indispensable part of biblical productivity, because it causes us to acknowledge that God is sovereign over all of our plans, and it pleads with God to help us make wise and God-honoring decisions.
  • As Christians we are called to serve God by serving others. In each of our areas of responsibility we are to serve and surprise. As we turn to our weekly checklist, we will work toward this question: How can I serve and surprise in the week ahead?