Does God have anything to say about productivity? Yes he does, and we need to develop a distinctly Christian understanding of how to get things done, according to Matt Perman in his book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. We believe that the gospel changes everything about our home life, work life, church life and community life, but there is little reflection on how the gospel changes the way we get things done.

The author advocates a new kind of GDP: gospel-driven productivity, arguing that “getting things done” is essential to Christian discipleship, and that we need to be God-centred in our productivity, putting others first and realising that justification by faith alone sets us free to be more productive with good works. After discussing the theological implications, the author sets out a recommended framework for achieving greater productivity:

  • Define: Working out your mission, finding your calling and clarifying your roles
  • Architect: Creating flexible routines and structures
  • Reduce: Freeing up time by delegating, eliminating, automating and deferring
  • Execute: Planning, managing email, managing actions, and daily disciplines

The book’s productivity tips are largely based on the secular writings of Stephen Covey, David Allen, Peter Drucker and Scott Belsky, and the Christian writings of Jonathan Edwards. Some of the chapters are better than others; I found the chapter on mission statements somewhat confusing, and was rather surprised to see the seventy resolutions of Jonathan Edwards described as “an example from the best mission statement in the history of the world”.

The book is about 50 percent longer than a typical book, and could probably have been improved by a more rigorous application of the Reduce principle advocated by the author. Nonetheless, this book is a good place to start if you are a Christian who is feeling overly busy but insufficiently effective.

Most people care deeply about things they have not discovered through the scientific method, such as love, beauty, altruism, and even religious longing, according to Dan DeWitt in his book Jesus or Nothing. Hence most people are suspicious of the idea that science in our only source of knowledge. The idea that everything must have a material explanation is in conflict with the way we live our daily lives as if there is more to life than matter.

The book contains an interesting discussion about the relationship between atheism and nihilism. Many philosophers regard a certain amount of nihilism as an inescapable consequence of atheism, but on the other hand most people who would regard themselves as atheists would not regard themselves as nihilists. It is often easy to spot difficulties in the worldviews of people you disagree with.

The author uses the letter of Paul to the Colossians as his outline for an explanation of the Christian “theory of everything”, including why there is something rather than nothing, where the universe came from, why it is orderly, why humanity is personal, why we long for transcendence, why there is evil in the world and what the remedy for evil is, why we have a problem with guilt and how grace is the antidote, and the meaning behind our mortality.

This is a short and readable book which presents the Christian perspective in a manner which is respectful towards the views of atheists. I would recommend it particularly for young Christians who are trying to work through the challenges presented by atheism.

Digital has given people a way, for the first time in history really, to connect easily with an organisation, be it to laud and praise or vilify and complain; that digital availability is now becoming an audience expectation, which is why authenticity must become our lifeblood, according to Jason Thibeault and Kirby Wadsworth in their book Recommend This!: Delivering Digital Experiences That People Want to Share.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

If you’ve just lost everything and have nothing but the shirt on your back, you still have a lot to give; you can choose to live your entire life as a gift, whether you feel as if you have a lot to offer or not; live to give, and you will be surprised at the resources you have, according to Brad Formsma in his book I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life. The book is a collection of stories and observations on the joys and benefits of generosity.

Key observations made by the author include:

  • When we choose to give, we change and the people around us change
  • To enter into the joy of giving, you have to be willing to go on a journey that will be scary and uncomfortable at times
  • No matter how successful you are, it is giving your life away to others that makes you happy
  • It is good to be wise in our giving, but we want to be sure that filters don’t rob us of life-giving opportunities to give
  • When you give to others and they seem to waste it, it’s discouraging, but loving someone else never goes to waste
  • Giving is something you get to do, not something you’ve got to do

Although the author indicates that he is a Christian, this is not specifically a Christian book. The benefits described apply equally to secular people. Nonetheless, generosity is a key distinguishing feature of a mature Christian lifestyle. The book focuses on the benefits to the giver and although it discusses the possibilities of a gift being refused or wasted, it does not explore in detail the ways in which gifts can have unexpected negative effects, as discussed for example in Toxic Charity.

In a world which seems to be increasingly individualistic and self-centred, where face-to-face community is being replaced by Facebook friendships and competition for the most followers and likes, this book provides an important an inspiring counter-cultural message, and I highly recommend it.

Organisations need a single, reliable guiding principle to ensure that all their marketing and communications efforts make a sustained impact, and that principle can be summed up in a single word: relevance, according to Andrea Coville and Paul Brown in their book Relevance: The Power to Change Minds and Behavior—and Keep You Ahead of the Competition. But most people tend to put too much emphasis on the practical aspect of relevance, and not enough on the social aspect.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

Building a company inevitably leads to tight jams and tough times; there is no recipe for really complicated, dynamic situations, for building a high-tech company, for leading a group of people out of trouble, or for motivating teams when your business has gone bad, according to Ben Horowitz in his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. The book describes the author’s story and the lessons he learnt along the way as a tech entrepreneur, CEO and venture capitalist.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

If you want to be standing upright when the pillars of your faith are rocked repeatedly back and forth, when everything that you’ve believed about God and the Bible is called into mocking question, you need to understand how solid the ground beneath your Christian beliefs actually is, according to Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock and Josh Chatraw in their book Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World.

The authors seek to provide answers to a range of propositions arising from the work of popular author and scholar Professor Bart Ehrman, such as:

  • The Bible was put together to suit an agenda
  • Your Bible doesn’t contain the real words of God after all
  • The Bible can’t seem to keep its own story straight
  • The whole basis of Christianity is in question
  • God doesn’t care. Maybe God isn’t even there

The book is reasonably short, and the writing style is appropriately engaging for its target audience, young Christians who are about to head off to college and about to come into contact with a more sceptical world. However, the subject matter is limited mainly to issues dealing with the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts; the book does not provide ready answers to many of the broader attacks being raised by atheistic philosophers on the whole idea of religious belief.

The unemployment figures do not actually tell us about the state of unemployment in a country, GDP figures do not actually give us an accurate measurement of the health of a country’s economy, and the trade deficit between the United States and China may actually be a trade surplus, according to Zachary Karabell in his book The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

The point of greatest peril in the development of a high-tech market lies in making the transition from an “early market” dominated by a few visionary customers to a “mainstream market” dominated by a large block of customers who are predominantly pragmatists in orientation, according to Geoffrey Moore in the third edition of his book Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Consumers. The gap between early and mainstream markets is what the author refers to as the “chasm”, and many entrepreneurial businesses have fallen into it.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

By 2020, the Big Data revolution will be over;  instead, there will be companies that have actively embraced data analytics as a core business process, and there will be those companies that have elected to go out of business, according to Christopher Surdak in his book Data Crush: How the Information Tidal Wave is Driving New Business Opportunities.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.