Deep Work - A Pastoral Review

January 31, 2017

Deep Work - A Pastoral Review

Few books have challenged me lately like Cal Newport's recent book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. As a pastor, my world can sometimes feel fragmented and chaotic, especially with the demands that come from leading a church.

There are times where I get to the end of a week and wonder where it went. Did I make a difference? Did I help in any way to move the church forward? As a pastor I also recognize that a big part of what I do involves people, but rarely does it come in neat, orderly timeframes that are easy to manage organizationally. In some respects, a chaotic schedule seems to come with the territory.

One tension though, is the recognition that I'm also tasked with communicating God's Word and administrating the ministries of the church. A responsibility we dare not take lightly nor relegate to the margins of our busy ministries. That's where Newport's book comes in. He argues for the importance of deep work, that ability to focus on intellectually demanding tasks and to do so without distraction.

Indeed, what can be more demanding in ministry than the careful exegeting and faithful communication of Scripture? The book is divided into two basic parts, the first is how Deep Work will produce massive benefits, while the second part gives practical ""rules"" for adopting and supporting this skill. Newport argues that Deep Work will make you;

  1. Better at what you do,
  2. Give you a deeper sense of fulfillment,
  3. Make you more productive.

Who could possibly argue against any of those benefits? What resonated with me was his argumentation for disconnecting from the very distractions that make deep work almost impossible - the need for constant conectivity.

If you truly want to master your time, make a more profound contribution, or even learn the rationale for what robs your ability to focus, then this book is a must. Filled with real-life stories, as well as proven strategies, I found it a helpful resource even in a profession like pastoral ministry, where schedules can lean towards the chaotic.




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