Books / Recommendations / September 18, 2014

40 Quotes From Matt Perman’s “What’s Best Next” – Part 1

Often times theology and practicality are pitted against one another – theologians vs. pragmatists. One side says the other is all tied up in strategies and techniques and needs to delve more deeply into God’s word. The other side points out that all that study and knowledge doesn’t actually get much done. Matt Perman, in his new book, explains that this is actually a false fight, two sides warring that actually complement one another perfectly.

In What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, Perman lays out what he calls “Gospel Driven Productivity”, the idea that a whole understanding of the gospel actually fuels practical productivity. The book is biblically rich as well as full of concrete ideas and strategies. It is a wonderful resource for Christian leaders, those in vocational ministry, or Christians who simply want to be the best employees and workers they can. Here are twenty of the best quotes from the book, with twenty more to come tomorrow.

1) It is odd there is so little Christian teaching on productivity because, as Christians, we believe the gospel changes everything – how we go about our home life, work life, church life, community life, everything.

2) And sometimes, when things get overwhelming, it is suggested that we need to “take a retreat with Jesus.” But maybe we’ve had enough retreats with Jesus. Maybe Jesus wants us to learn how to get things done.

3) Getting things done, making ideas happen, and being productive are all ways to make a difference in people’s lives.

4) When you become more efficient, you tend to do more things – and if you aren’t doing the right things in the first place, you have just become and expert at doing more of what doesn’t need to be done at all.

5) You are satisfied with your day when there is a match between what you value and how you spend your time.

6) God is the source of all true principles.

7) 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.

8) You don’t want to be the one to plan your whole life, because God does a better job than you ever will.

9) We aren’t just marking time here on earth. God has given us purposes to fulfill, he requires us to fulfill them, and we will be held accountable for doing so. Productivity is not simply a subject that is fascinating or that helps make our lives easier. It is, at root, a biblical concern and a fundamental issue before God. The innate desire we have to be productive and do useful things is an echo of this.

10) Productive things, then, are things that do good.

11) We aren’t called to do all conceivable good, which would be impossible for us, but rather to maximize the opportunities that we have.

12) To have love as the guiding principle of our lives means that our continual mindset in all we do should be “What will serve the other person?” It is not “What will serve me?”

13) If you haven’t mastered the skills of your job or aren’t seeking to do so, you aren’t serving your employer and coworkers as well as you should. You might even be making the work of others harder. Mediocre work is not Christian! We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We do not serve other incompetently.

14) My point is that in the arena of work we are to seek more than profit, not other than profit. We are to seek profit in line with values.

15) We are to care about usability because hard-to-use products make life harder for people, not easier. And the Christian ethic is to lift people’s burdens – make their lives better – rather than create burdens for them by making their lives harder in order to save ourselves some time and effort in the design of our products.

16) Embracing the truth that God accepts us apart from good works is the precise thing that causes us to excel in good works . . . the only way to be productive is to realize that you don’t have to be.

17) The practical is founded on the doctrinal, and the chief doctrine that founds the practical is the fact that God accepts apart from our practice.

18) True productivity is first of all a flourishing of your character.

19) The overarching, guiding principle for our lives is love.

20) Know what’s most important right where you are and focus on that.

Look for installment 2 tomorrow!

This was originally posted at

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