Crowdfunding Project #3: Short Ebook on Gospel-Driven Productivity

For the last few days, I’ve been taking you back into the kitchen of our GoFundMe campaign. So far we’ve looked at the first two projects this is helping support: an online course on gospel-driven productivity, and the online build-out of the resource library.

The third project is a short ebook on gospel-driven productivity — that is, on how to get things done, with less friction and frustration, but in a gospel-centered way (which most current resources on productivity completely leave out).

My book What’s Best Next gives the comprehensive perspective on this. But people have also asked for a shorter, quick hit version of those concepts so they can get going quickly. That’s what this ebook will aim to do. It will be about 25-40 pages, giving an overview of what it means to understand productivity in a biblical way, and then outlining the simple systems you can put in place to keep your focus on the most important things and get them done.

If you have already given to the campaign, thank you! And if you’re still thinking about it or just hearing about it now for the first time, your involvement would be a huge help. You can be involved by giving at the GoFundMe page and/or sharing it by email, twitter, or Facebook. Thank you so much!

Crowdfunding Project #2: The Online Resource Library

Thank you to everyone who has been giving to and sharing our online funding campaign. Please keep it up! Even a simple tweet or Facebook share makes a big difference.

Yesterday I took you back into the kitchen with the online course. Today I want to do the same with a second project, the online resources.

Expanding the Resource Library

You may have noticed the “resource library” section in the global navigation for this site. That is where I post more detailed and long-term articles, as opposed to the general blog posts which are more front-burner and timely (for the most part).

You may also have noticed that there are more categories than there are resources. That’s because this section is under construction. I have between 600 – 1,000 articles I want to post. These articles are on all aspects of theology, leadership, productivity, and management, from a biblical point of view. Once we get them up, the site will hopefully be able to serve you as a large on-going resource site on these subjects, similar to how Desiring God is such a helpful resource site on theology.

What Kinds of Articles?

Someone recently asked me, “how can you possibly have 1,000 unpublished articles?” The answer is threefold.

First, I used to answer theological correspondence for John Piper. I kept many of the more substantial responses I wrote for people on important subjects in theology and Christian living. That totals about 300-400 I think. (Since some of these are short, I don’t always include them in the full count of articles, hence I usually am thinking in terms of 600 articles; but there are about 1,000 units.) These emails were written before this blog, which is why they are not up yet.

Second, in college I wrote a bunch of articles on all aspects of Christian theology and apologetics as I was learning those subjects. I put those articles on the website Justin Taylor and I started together in college, way back in the early days of the Internet. They have been there ever since, and my plan is to move them over here so that everything is in one spot.

Third, over the last 8 years or so I’ve written many articles on leadership and management from a biblical viewpoint, as I have been developing my thinking on the subjects. These articles outline biblical leadership philosophies that also utilize the best of secular research (such as Jim Collins and others), and also develop systems for implementing these principles in your organization (performance management, hiring, meetings that are better than movies, and many other things).

You can see an example of what I’m doing in the “web strategy” category, where I’ve already posted most of my resources on that subject.

I’m also posting the audio and video of my messages over the years, whenever I have it, so this will be multimedia as well.

A Comprehensive Tool for Free

My plan is to get all of these resources posted so that this site can be a comprehensive tool for you, serving you both with fresh content through the blog and a large amount of ongoing foundational content through the resource library. And I want all of this available to you for free.

To make it available for free, of course, costs time and money on my side, getting things posted and set up. Which is a big reason for the financial appeal. If this vision is exciting and compelling to you, would you consider a gift?

 

If You’ve Benefitted from My Books or Blog, Here’s a Chance to Help Financially

A Special Message from Matt Perman

My mission in life is to build up Christians in the faith so they might point people to Christ, transform their communities, and do all the good they can to the glory of God.

The chief way I aim to do this is through public theology––leveraging the writing, teaching, and organizational gifts God’s given me through various media, speaking, and consulting opportunities. For 13 years this was expressed in different roles at Desiring God, including leading the web department, serving as director of strategy, and helping build the ministry for greater spreading.

Over the past few years, my two biggest projects have been publishing What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done and creating content for WhatsBestNext.com, a resource site focused on applying theology to leadership, management, and the world of work. I have also been doing a lot of speaking at churches, conferences, non-profits, and businesses.

Your Help: Why and Why Now?

With the humbling success of What’s Best Next and the passionate feedback I receive, one thing has become increasingly and compellingly clear: there is a deep hunger for more training in these areas––especially in the realms of gospel-empowered productivity and management.

Many Christians today are hungry to do work that matters, but they’re simply overwhelmed. They want to honor God and serve people in their work, but aren’t always sure how to do that with less friction and frustration.

I believe What’s Best Next has a role to play in meeting this need, but I keep hitting two major roadblocks:

  1. I can’t expand these ministry initiatives on my own
  2. Living expenses and family commitments prevent significant financial investment

In order to dedicate my full-time attention in this next season, I need help from a team of generous catalysts. I created this GoFundMe campaign to ask if you’d consider a gift of support to make the following strategic projects possible.

What Your Support Will Accomplish

Your generous support will enable the following:

  • Producing an online training course in Gospel-Driven Productivity (GDP)
  • Creating a much-requested book on GDP (more accessible than What’s Best Next)
  • Editing, organization, and making available over 600 unpublished articles on theology, leadership, management, and the world of work––all from a gospel-centered perspective. These will be free on WhatsBestNext.com
  • Start-up funds for building a WBN team

What Supporters Will Receive

If you’re able to support these efforts, I want to say thank-you in the following ways:

  • For gifts over $25, you will receive a free digital copy of the GDP book (when finished)
  • For gifts over $100, the book and free access to the online course (when finished, estimated $250 value).
  • For gifts over $500, the book, the course, and a free coaching session in the realm of personal leadership and personal management that customizes GDP for you.

Thank You

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this opportunity. I am deeply appreciative of your support.

In Christ our Savior,

Matt Perman

[Help Support Matt’s Ministry Projects]

 

Don’t Divide Your Christian Principles from Your Practical Decision Making

This is well said by Phillip Johnson, in his foreword to Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth

Every one of us has a worldview, and our worldview governs our thinking even when — or especially when — we are unaware of it.

Thus, it is not uncommon to find well-meaning evildoers, as it were, who are quite sincerely convinced that they are Christians, and attend church faithfully, and may even hold a position of leadership, but who have absorbed a worldview that makes it easy for them to ignore their Christian principles when it comes time to do the practical business of daily living.

Their sincerely held Christian principles are in one category for them, and practical decision making is in another. Such persons can believe that Jesus is coming again to judge the world and yet live as if the standards of this world are the only thing that needs to be taken into account.

That’s a very profound statement. It is worth re-reading and reflecting on.

I remember experiencing this dichotomy in my own life. My senior year in college, I had an internship as a claims adjuster at a large insurance company. One of the things we were taught was that the popular dictum “the customer is always right” would bankrupt the company.

The reason is that customers often had an inadequate conception of their insurance policies, thinking that certain things would be covered when they are in fact not. If we granted the wishes of the customer in each of those cases, we would be paying far beyond what the policies were designed to cover, which would indeed spell disaster for the company.

In this case, of course, the reasoning is correct. The policy rates were set on the basis of the limitations on the policy spelled out in the contract, and to go against those would be to over extend the capacity of the company to pay the claims. I don’t think there is anything unbiblical about sticking to agreed upon characteristics of the insurance policy, especially since the customers are able to read and agree to the policy with full knowledge and consent when they sign on.

The problem, though, was that this could easily have an unwelcome side effect. Even though the company did not advocate doing so, nonetheless this reality could easily create an adversarial mindset toward the customers of the insurance company. You could go in expecting them to disagree, and your mission was to make sure not to give in. Your task could easily become not seeking to maximally serve the customer within the constraints imposed by the policy, but standing your ground against the customer. And justifying that by saying “this is what the policy states. You just have to deal with it.”

That would be an example of following the standards the world often follows — and thinking you are justified in doing so because, of course, you really can’t pay out for things the policy does not cover. Right?

The problem here is not with upholding the policy. The biblical answer here would not be to go against the agreed upon characteristics of the insurance policies. The problem is with what is being left out — namely, humanity. 

The biblical answer here was not to go against the policies, but to remember compassion and understanding. As claims adjusters we might not be able to give the customers what they really wanted in certain cases, but we could always accompany that with saying “I understand this is frustrating. I am sorry about this. And perhaps the conception of this policy is not as helpful as it should be, and we will need to look into that. But this is the policy that was agreed on, and this is what we have to stick to.”

That is a very different approach than just giving people the cold hard facts and saying “deal with it.” It seems so obvious. This is a way of treating the customer with dignity and respect, even when they are not “right” and cannot have their way.

Yet, that that is the type of thing you don’t always see. Perhaps some people think that showing understanding opens them to liability or risk. To acknowledge the person’s frustration, they think, is perhaps to acknowledge that the policy is indeed bad, thus opening them to a lawsuit.

But fear of risk is never a good reason to fail to take the actions that are necessary for affirming a person’s dignity. People’s concerns need to be validated. Even if the company is technically “right,” as was the case most of the time in these situations, it is never right to toss that out as a cold hard fact that a person just has to “deal with.”

This is just one small example of how Christian principles can be set aside in the name of seemingly doing “the right thing” according to a certain (even legitimate) set of standards, and how a Christian view can come in and provide what is missing so that people are always treated the way they ought to be treated.

There are lots of other examples that are more extreme and more significant. Regardless of the situation you are in, always remember to ask not only “what are the typical practices for handling this situation in my industry” but also “what does God have to say about this type of thing, and how does that apply to me as well?”

Preparing Your Teens for College

Most people are aware of Alex Chediak’s excellent book Thriving at CollegeWhat is often overlooked is his sequel to that book, Preparing Your Teens for College

Don’t let the title fool you. This book is not just for parents of teenagers. It is for all parents, because the solid principles he outlines actually make the book an excellent primer on preparing your kids for life. 

It’s also for youth pastors, ministry leaders, high school teachers, and anyone else involved in the work of “training teens to leave home with the faith, character, and maturity to be successful not just in college but in the totality of their lives.”

You learn about helping your teens learn responsibility, be future-oriented, own their faith, be characterized by conviction and tolerance, learn financial responsibility, study, and doing so in a way that also affirms the importance of your kids’ unique talents and interests. For me, that was one of the most significant aspects of the book.

As the new school year is slowly creeping up, now is a good time of year to grab this book whether you literally have teens, your kids are already in college, or you are looking ahead to the teen years.

 

 

Getting Collaboration Right

A great post at the 99U: The Collaboration Paradox: Why Working Together Often Yields Weaker Results

A key excerpt:

Most of the heavy creative lifting happens when we’re by ourselves, working on our own. We’re in a better position to evaluate the merits of an idea after we’ve given a topic some thought, not when encountering it for the first time.

For collaboration to work, we need to understand the crucial role of alone time and focused, individual work. Collaboration is essential, but it only yields better results when combined with individual work rather than seen as something that renders the individual work unnecessary.

Why Read Books? (And How?)

A fantastic article at the 99U.

And a nice start:

Warren Buffett is undoubtedly considered one of the greatest investors of all times. His empire, Berkshire Hathaway, is worth $355 billion, an increase of 1,826,163 percent since 1964 when Buffett took over. He owns (or owns big chunks) of some of the biggest brands in the world including GEICO, Dairy Queen, NetJets, half of Heinz, and significant holdings in companies such as American Express, IBM, and Wells Fargo.

But Buffett’s very best investment—responsible for literally billions of dollars in profits over the years—was very cheap. Because it was a book. That’s right, a book.

How to Get Things Done in Seminary

 

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My article for the latest edition of Towersa monthly publication from Southern Seminary.

Here’s an excerpt:

While I don’t begrudge the fact that time management was not taught in my seminary studies (though I think it should have been), the fact remains: every seminary student needs to learn time management. There is no other way to prepare adequately for all the demands that will come after seminary. Further, learning time management now will pay big dividends by enabling you to be more effective in your current studies, with less stress and more peace of mind.

In fact, time management is especially helpful during the days of your theological studies. Archibald Alexander, one of the founding faculty of Princeton Seminary, writes:

Diligence without method will enable us to make but little progress; adopt, therefore, and preserve a regular method in the disposal of your time and distribution of your studies. When you have your time judiciously apportioned you proceed with ease and alacrity like the traveler on a road where the distances are marked and the stages conveniently arranged for his accommodation. 

This is even more important now than in Alexander’s day or when I was in seminary, as the pace of life has only picked up due to technology. With the intelligent application of a few solid time management principles, it is possible to make the most of your time in seminary without letting your studies become a grind or unjustly interfere with your family, ministry, and other priorities.

So, how do you do that? Here are five principles that can serve as a starting point.

Read the whole thing. (You can also see the entire issue with all the other articles as well, in a way that is very nicely laid out online just like the print version.)

Jon Acuff in Christianity Today

Kate Shellnutt has written an excellent piece on Jon Acuff at Christianity Today.

I love what Jon is doing. He is writing some of the best books right now on the world of work. He understands the nature of the new economy and the best of current business thinking. And, he is very funny.

Here’s a good snapshot from the article:

[Jon] tells readers they don’t have to settle for a job they dread and offers practical steps to find passion in their daily work. His taglines include “Punch Fear in the Face” and “Build a Better Monday.” He wants people to actually enjoy their jobs, for the sake of themselves, their employers, and their witness in the world of business.

I’ve also written a companion piece on why Christians need to learn from secular business thinkers.

Check out the full article on what Jon is doing. And if you don’t have it already, Jon’s latest book, Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuckis very much worth checking out as well.

The Successful Virtual Office

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Melanie Pinola at Lifehacker has written a brief, helpful, new book entitled The Successful Virtual Office In 30 Minutes. As a part of series of 30-minute guides, this book seeks to “help telecommuters, consultants, freelancers, small business owners, independent professionals, and other types of remote workers set up and maintain a high-performance virtual office.”

And here’s a fun fact: In her book, she also quotes from my e-book How to Set Up Your Desk: A Guide to Fixing a (Surprisingly) Overlooked Productivity Problem

If you need help with your own virtual office, or if you are interested in learning about available tools that might help you in this area, check out Melanie’s book. She has been gracious enough to offer some complimentary PDF copies of her book to readers of What’s Best Next. Send an email to contact [at] whatsbestnext.com and explain why this book might help you. The first ten folks to email will win a copy. Enjoy!