The Practical Theology of Productivity and Stewardship

Matt Perman is the author of What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way We Worka book about productivity and the stewardship of time and work. Matt highlights all the good that can be gained from the literature on business and productivity, showing how the best principles observed by secular thinkers conform to the pattern of biblical teaching. Of course, the gospel the world did not know by its wisdom, so Matt’s gospel-informed advice goes beyond other literature in a particularly Christian way.

Matthew Perman formerly served as the senior director of strategy at Desiring God Ministries in Minneapolis, MN, and is a frequent speaker on the topics of leadership and productivity from a God-centered perspective. He has an MDiv from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute. Matt regularly blogs and contributes to a number of other online publications as well. He lives in Minneapolis.

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program and learn how to subscribe.

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Michael M. Rico

4 years ago

Dear Camden,

One of the things that was too bad that you did not get to in the program was the top priority of biblical devotions for GTD. I have read in review articles that Mr. Perman thinks this is the ultimate key in the GTD matrix for Christians.

Second, beyond helping focused Christians getting better structured, I hope this book can serve as an evangelistic wakeup call for Christians who are floundering in priorities that are not Christ centered. In other wards, reading the book would have the effect of forcing someone to conclude, “I’ve got to start living for Christ singularly and more aggressively if I’m going to glorify God and help others, others in the kingdom and outside of it.

With your background, you were a good one to do the interviewing of this always timely topic.

MMR

Bill

4 years ago

This is a great program. And yet I am torn as to whether the teaching is biblical or not. I wish it was biblical, but is it? I have an MBA myself and have professional accounting certifications as well, so this program interests me if I can take into my professional life some of what is taught here. But here lies the problem, and it is not a small one. I love Jim Collins and Peter Drucker as management authors, but what about authors that disagree 100% with them? Let’s look for example at this micro management of knowledge workers. I do not believe you can or should micromanage knowledge workers. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos agrees and so do the two founders of Google. And yet as much as I love those two companies and their contributions to society, the question will immediately be raised by the micromanagers why are you leaving out Steve Jobs and Apple. Apple has a culture of micromanagement unlike Amazon or Google. Is Apple not as good a company as Amazon? Steve Jobs, a control freak, micromanager was one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the last 100 years or was he not? As a lutheran the first question we ask is what does the bible say about gopher vs stewardship delegation? The answer is it is silent, so s a christian I have to be silent as well. What does the bible say about micromanagement? It is silent. So I better be silent too. So again this program highlights the profound differences between the lutheran and the reformed, in lutheranism we would not dare say that a Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, or Peter Drucker is biblical, simply because they deal with management concepts that the bible is silent about, and so should we. Don’t get me wrong my heart is with Jim Collins when he says the greatest companies do not have a profit motive but focus on accomplishing something big and putting customers and employees first, and then the bottom line takes care of itself. Again, let’s look at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, he tries to give the best deals and save money to customers, and he said he will never make what he calls Steve Jobs mistake of having high profit margins, in reference to Apple’s well known practice of steep mark-ups on its products and high profit margins. And yet can we say that Amazon is a more biblical company than Apple? And the reason I am picking Apple is because it runs counter to everything Drucker and Collins teach, Steve Jobs was a genius and the ultimate micromanager, probably his genius is what allowed him to micromanage in such tight way and lead as a control freak, and also it is his leading products that allowed him to mark them up and have profit margins that are the envy of every other company. Apple’s products cost more, because Apple makes more money on every computer and phone or IPAD they sell than any of its competitors. They put their bottom line first.

Bill

4 years ago

Yet from a lutheran perspective (unlike the reformed) Steve Jobs the micromanager is as biblical as those leaders that do not micromanage or do not seek to maximize short term profits above everything else. Here’s what Bezos had to say about Apple’s high profit margins: http://www.geekwire.com/2013/amazons-jeff-bezos-determined-avoid-steve-jobs-mistake/

At one point, Bezos explained to one of Amazon’s major shareholders that he wanted to avoid “Steve Jobs’ mistake” of pricing the iPhone so high that it created fantastic profit margins. The problem, Bezos explained, was that the strategy attracted a raft of competitors as a result.
“The comment reflected his distinctive business philosophy,” writes Stone. “Bezos believed that high margins justified rivals’ investments in research and development and attracted more competition, while low margins attracted customers and were more defensible.”

Bill

4 years ago

Here’s a great article on Business Week why the best managers that ever lived were micro managers. Management gurus like Peter Drucker, who never had to run a business, may think micro management doesn’t work but business titans that built their own businesses disagree http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-11/in-praise-of-micromanagers See a huge list of micromanagers on this article, some of the greatest CEO;s and company founders that ever lived. And another great and short reading in Forbes about the relentless micro management style of Steve Jobs. http://www.forbes.com/sites/chunkamui/2011/10/17/five-dangerous-lessons-to-learn-from-steve-jobs/2/

And this is a key difference between lutheran and reformed theology, as Tom Baker of Law and Gospel always says, when people ask me about God’s will for their life he tells them that God does not care if you work for Ford and GM, and I will add whether you work for a company that loves or hates Peter Drucker’s management principles.

Jay

4 years ago

Loved the interview and I’m loving the book. Management was only one aspect of it and there were a lot of qualifications about the degrees of delegation w/ or w/o micromanagment based on the task and the people involved.
I thought the personal task management aspects were the best part.

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