Each week, the Flourish team would like to recommend resources that will help you on your journey of Church Renewal. While we don’t endorse every single idea from every single resource we are attempting to cultivate a useful resource list for you.
Resource: Deep Work, by Cal Newport
Background: Cal Newport went from well-known to international star with his 2019 book Digital Minimalism (A New York Times Bestseller and also highly recommended. One of the pastors I coached gave up his smartphone as a result of reading the book. He got a lot more productive as a result!) Interestingly, Cal’s vocational specialty is not social sciences or consulting. He’s a young tenured computer science professor at Georgetown who specializes in things I don’t understand. How did he get there so young? He learned how to do Deep Work.
Take-aways: Ministry leaders have unique kinds of responsibilities. Mixing “people work” with tasks and projects is challenging if invigorating. However, why is it that when I was pastoring a local church so many times the projects didn’t get done. You know those things in an Eisenhower box that are “important” but not “urgent”? Or even in my life now, why do these resource posts take me on average of more than an hour to write. One word… distraction. Newport’s wisdom is in the realm of helping you learn how to tune out distraction and experience what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow” while going about your work. Newport warns that we are losing the ability to do “Deep Work” like long-form writing. Scarily for pastors and other ministry leaders I see very few people engaged in long-form prayer. We are losing the ability to concentrate on the same thing (no matter what the thing) for long periods of time. The downside of this is that there are certain kinds of endeavors (like long-form prayer!) that require that ability. It is a challenging and needful book. (H/T to Pastor David Scott who alerted me to this book’s existence several years ago)
Source: You can purchase the book in print or on kindle or audiobook.
Bonus content: Pastor James Hopkins wrote a fine review of the book and he links to an interview of Cal Newport on the City of God Podcast.