Extra-biblical material can be helpful – if you read it wrong

It always seems that Christians are 20 years behind… a new music style comes out, like rock and roll, and “the church” deplores it before eventually incorporating it. Everything from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People all the way through to wisdom from other religious systems… Christians face an internal conflict about how we should listen to such things.

The important distinction to make is that no idea, meme, saying, style or strategy comes in a vacuum. They all come with a system of thought behind them; the author has an intended philosophy. So, when Getting Things Done author, David Allen says, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything” there’s a system of thought behind that, a philosophy of self-fulfilment and personal value. When Buddha is quoted as saying, “No matter how hard the past, you can always start again” that’s the tip of an iceberg of an entire philosophical understanding of our own person and the world.

This means that Christians need to mis-read these ideas. That is, we need to take them out of the context and philosophy they were written from, and then discern if we can say and think them from our own biblical point of view.

So when Mr Allen says, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything”, I am reminded that Jesus uses all sorts of people to achieve his ends in the world, and I may be one of them in ways I don’t even know. And I’m also reminded that Jesus is the one who makes things grow, and that he is the sovereign lord of everything who I can rest in. I re-interpret the intended meaning of the wisdom.

In other words, Christians read worldly-wisdom wrong… by seeing if it can be a helpful application of our own system of thought… and that’s right.

A Christian Event with a twist… wouldn’t expect anything less from Mikey Lynch.

A mate of mine, Mikey Lynch, is trying something kinda’ cool. He’s been blogging (about the similar sort of Christian leadership stuff I do) for ages and ages. And he’s had the idea to try and take it on the road. It sounds like a pretty interesting idea; getting to think-tank a whole lot of ministry ideas, culture and productivity in light of the gospel. All in a small setting rather than a big convention.

He’s got dates planned… 29th July in Perth, 10th November in Sydney, 18th June in Wollongong.

Worth checking out I reckon – see details here.

Reblog: You are, by God’s design, a decision making machine

1Cor 3 reminds us that we don’t actually make disciples, we don’t actually make people change or grow. God makes those things happen, by his Spirit. But we do make decisions – that God uses.
I don’t just mean that we decide what we say or do. As leaders we make significant decisions about projects and people. Every time we’re faced with an issue in ministry, or an opportunity arrives before us; we are forced to make a decision. And that single decision will have a huge number of consequences and outcomes – many of which you can’t foresee.
This is an important aspect of GTD; it forces you to decide what your next action is for a project.
Don’t underestimate the importance if this. You are, by God’s design, a decision making machine.
What are the decisions on your plate at the moment?
What decisions are you putting off?
What are the projects that are just sitting there – stagnant – because you need to make a decision about it?

Energy levels do not equate to amount of work done

Often when we talk about how much energy we have, we have the idea in our head that a certain amount of energy means we should be able to achieve a certain amount of output. That is, we assume human energy levels are like petrol levels in a car… if I have a full “energy” tank, I should be able to go 8 hours doing “stuff”.

But that’s not how energy levels usually work.

Usually, a person’s energy levels are a reflection on their expectations on their upcoming work. If they are excited about what they are going to do, they have a certain amount of energy for it. If they are scared or overwhealmed by the amount of work they have to do, their energy levels seem to drop.

It might seem a bit simplistic, but the best way to ensure you have the energy you need is to, a) lower your self-expectations and just go for small parts of big projects (just send 1 email, just make 1 call, just read 4 pages) and b) raise your vision and our purposes; help yourself see that the end goal or outcome is worthy and exciting and… energising.

That’s why gospel work (i.e. “good work”) is great. My outcome expectations are in the hands of God, and the purpose driving me is eternal and glorious.