What's Best Next (2014) by Matt Perman addresses "how the gospel transforms the way you get things done." Perman tackles the issue of what it means to be productive as a Christian. This 351 page book is broken down into 24 chapters over 7 sections. Perman begins by establishing the groundwork for how and why a gospel-centered productivity is important. He then progresses into more practical matters, presenting the reader with productivity principles and then discussing his mnemonic: DARE, which stands for Define, Architect, Reduce, and Execute. In the final section, he addresses how we can live this out societally and missionally.
I initially didn't know what to expect from this book. I have often joked that one of my spiritual gifts is efficiency, so when his second chapter was entitled "why efficiency is not the answer," I started to pay more careful attention. I began this book with the assumption that Perman was going to suggest ways for me to be even more efficient so that I could get more stuff done. However, there is a nuanced difference between what we might classically think of as efficiency and what Perman describes as productivity. Productivity seems to have greater worldview implications. How we live out our lives in our work, homes, church, and society should be looked at through the grid of productivity.
Perman's influences weave their ways through his book. His thinking has clearly been affected by the likes of business-minded people like Stephen Covey, David Allen, and Tim Sanders, but also the more theologically minded like Tim Keller and Jonathan Edwards. John Piper's influence is palpable, which is unsurprising given Perman's work with Desiring God ministries. I have been deeply affected by Piper's writings, so to see the theological ideas that formed Desiring God in something so practical was a real treat.
What's Best Next crescendoes through the chapters. At the outset, I found myself thinking, "this is a decent book," but the more I read, the more I wanted to read. Perman's wisdom and broad knowledge base shine through. I received this book for free through a book review program and I began to think of different people to whom I could give this book. By the end, I decided I would keep it. I envision myself recommending this book to several people from church, to my manager at work, my patients, and to you the reader. If you want to understand better what a God-exalting view of productivity would look like, I would highly recommend Perman's book.
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