Ambitious for the Quiet Life

Issue #138

Your weekly roundup of insights and resources to help you on your journey to becoming a more productive Christian.

Read on the Web

In Today’s Issue:

  • Ambitious for the Quiet Life
  • What Happened to Our Mental Bandwidth
  • Deep Work & Christian Ministry
  • Golden Rule for Your Email Inbox
  • Book I’m Reading: Digital Liturgies

Dear steward,

Now that life is settling back into a more regular rhythm after the move, I'm pleased to tell you that I'm getting back into regular video production.

If you aren't already, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel, where I'll be posting new videos beginning next Tuesday.

I'll also be reactivating the podcast feed with the audio from the videos. So it will be a slightly different format than the old Redeeming Productivity Show—shorter episodes, snappier editing—but if you prefer to listen rather than watch, I wanted to make that available to you.

I'm really excited to finally be putting all of my energies back into Redeeming Productivity! I pray it will be a blessing to you as you seek to get more done for the glory of God.

Ambitious for the Quiet Life

In my 20s, I thought a successful Christian life meant doing big things for God.

But now, as 40 circles me like a great white in the Pacific, I'm learning to appreciate the Bible's call to "a peaceful and quiet life" and what that means for my ambition.

Reagan’s Roundup

What Happened to Our Mental Bandwidth? (7 mins)

Brett & Kate McKay / The Art of Manliness

I have re-read this article three times in the past week. It just absolutely nails what I think we are finding to be a more and more universal experience: Nobody can focus anymore.

It’s not that we no longer experience some disquiet over the effects of our phones. But because these effects are no longer novel, we experience them far less frequently and acutely. We’ve accepted their presence in our lives. We’ve become accustomed to the current state of our thoughts and behaviors. It feels like our normal. Whereas a decade ago, we could sense how our lives were being changed, now we can no longer remember what our old lives were like.

The authors show how massive this problem is for both individuals and organizations.

My only frustration is that while the authors get the diagnoses correct (it’s our phones), but they offer no remedy. They seem entirely resigned to this being the new normal. We just need to learn to cope with a low-bandwidth world.

I can’t accept that.

One way I’m fighting back in my own life is by not using social media. If you follow me on social platforms, you may have noticed I haven't posted for the past 2 months. Part of that was the need to focus on moving and finishing a few big projects. But mostly, I just wanted to see what life would be like without it. And, to be honest, I have no interest in coming back to social media.

I left my accounts active because I'm still considering whether or not I'll simply use them to schedule Redeeming Productivity content in the future. I do see the value of serving people through those channels. But whatever I decide, I don't imagine I'll ever want to go back to consuming social media myself. It's so much better without it.

I refuse to acquiesce to a perpetually distracted life.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on social media. Have you quit or considered quitting? Do you think believers have a duty to be on there? I plan to write something more extensive on this subject soon.

Also, read the article above, which I just used as an excuse to rant about social media.

Deep Work & Christian Ministry (3 mins)

J.V Fesko

“If you want to be more productive, you must train yourself to do it. You don’t have to swear-off technology and switch to a dumb phone and a typewriter, though there could be some advantages. But you should be deliberate about your work habits. Block off time in your schedule, be disciplined about it, shut yourself in, focus on your sermon prep (or whatever your task may be), and ‘get’er done.’”

Golden Rule for Your Email Inbox (4 mins)

Caroline Stoltzfus / The Gospel Coalition

Some food for thought.

“The Golden Rule cannot be automated. Relationships cannot be optimized. AI cannot respond in love the way you can.”

A Book I’m Reading: Digital Liturgies

Last month, I read Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age by Samuel D. James.

I've enjoyed reading Samuel's Substack for the past couple of years and have even shared some of his articles in the Roundup. So, I was eager to read this one.

In the book, Samuel explores how the connected internet shapes not just our minds but, more importantly, our hearts. The book goes deeper into the spiritually formative power of the internet than anything I've read before.

Rather than thinking of the web and social media as merely neutral tools that merely do whatever users ask of them, it is better to think of them as kinds of spaces that are continually shaping us to think, feel, communicate, and live in certain ways. In other words, the social internet is a liturgical environment.

The only critique I have is that the book makes such a powerful case against the harmful effects of the social internet that I kept expecting it to crescendo into more potent cautions. But he doesn't really offer any practical solutions aside from "just be aware of the dangers." And if that's all he set out to do, fine. He certainly makes that case well. But be forewarned, if you're looking for strategies for fighting back, that isn't the intent of this book.

Nevertheless, Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age is a worthwhile read that will help you better discern your own relationship with the social internet. I commend it to you!

Feel Like You're Drowning in Commitments?

In this age of distraction, it’s easier than ever to find yourself drowning in overwhelm. That’s why I created this course, Overcoming Overcommitment: The Problem Productivity Can't Solve.

The Lord has called us to be faithful in fulfilling our responsibilities. But all too often, we find ourselves spread so thin that we aren't doing anything with the excellence it deserves.

This course is packed full of biblical teaching on how to address the all-too-common problem of being overcommitted and walks you through a series of practical exercises to help you re-align your priorities to what matters most.

In Overcoming Overcommitment, you'll learn:

  • How to get visibility on all of your present commitments
  • How to reduce your total number of commitments to a reasonable size
  • How to say no in a gracious, God-honoring way

Because the only way to do what God has called us to do with excellence is by saying no to what He has not called us to do.

Overcoming Overcommitment is available with a Redeeming Productivity Academy membership.

Quote of the Week

I am busy because I am lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people work hard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us.

Eugene Peterson

Final Word

That's all for this week.

Thanks so much for reading!

For His glory,

Reagan Rose

P.S. Darryl Dash wrote a lovely review of my book Redeeming Productivity: Getting More Done for the Glory of God. It’s an excellent summary of what the book is all about.

Reagan Rose

I talk about personal productivity from a Christian perspective. Creator of ​Redeeming Productivity​.

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