Two New Christian Books on Productivity (Getting Stuff Done)

The business world thrives when managers and workers are productive, making the best use of their time. If it doesn’t make the world go round, productivity certainly makes the economy keep ticking.

Joining in the voices calling for better time management and higher levels of productivity are two Christian leaders with new books. Matt Perman and Tim Challies are not interested in ways to increase earnings or respect through disciplined time management; rather, they are concerned with instructing Christians on how to be more productive for the sake of serving others and the glory of God.

If you’ve never thought in detail about the best ways to order your life, I suggest giving one or both of these books a chance.

Perman’s book is called What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Mar 2014), At 352 pages, it is a lengthy offering. It provides detailed discussion of the theological foundations that undergird productivity for the glory of God and also includes many practical chapters on how to actually get things done. Challies book is titled Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity (Nov 2015). At a mere 120 pages, Challie’s work is short and sweet.

Both books are very good, and they both cover essentially the same material. But Perman delves into every topic in much greater detail than Challies. If Perman is Matthew than Challies is Mark.

For someone who wants to think extensively about being more productive (the whys and the hows), then Perman’s book is the way to go. If someone wants the no-frills basics, then it’s Challies all the way.

I found it very helpful to read both books. What’s Best Next led me to a serious rethinking and retooling of my life mission while Do More Good helped me think carefully about how I use the tools of productivity (in particular Google Calendar, Todoist, and Evernote). Challie’s book is so practical that it sometimes reads like a tutorial for these tools.

Both books maintain that the reason Christians should desire to be productive is so that they can better serve other people for the glory of God. Unlike many other books on efficiency and productivity, Perman and Challies are not interested in helping people make more money or work up a corporate ladder. Instead, they promote a God-centered worldview where self-sacrifice for the benefit of others is what life is all about.

For example, Perman writes:

“The only way to find fulfillment and be productive in the ultimate sense is to center our entire lives — and therefore our productivity — on God. It is good to be principle-centered, but we need to go beyond being principle-centered to being God-centered.”

And Challies echoes:

“Productivity calls you to direct your whole life at this great goal of bringing glory to God by doing good for others. This call involves using your gifts, the spiritual gifts you were given when the Lord saved you; it involves deploying your talents, those areas of natural strength; it involves managing your time, those 24 hours God gives you each day; it involves making use of your energy, the strength or vitality that ebbs and flows through the day and the week; and it even involves your enthusiasm, the passion and interest you can bring to those works you love to do.”

Both books were incredibly valuable to me. As a father of five and busy pastor, who also writes/edits books and maintains a blog, I need all the help I can get to keep things going and to be productive for the glory of God.

Challies and Perman both focus on focus. They emphasize that for every yes there must be innumerable no’s. Saying yes to everything may sound productive, but because it overloads a person very quickly, it is actually counterproductive. Challies and Perman agree that Christians should not do more things, but rather do only the best things.

In a day when wasting time has become a celebrated art form, these two books call believers to make the best of their time, for the days are evil (Eph 5:16).

The Excellency of Christ:
Updated to Modern English