Getting Things Done vs. Doing God’s Will

From DayTimers to Stephen Covey, a plethora of tools help one get organized and keep tasks and information from getting lost in the shuffle. Systems abound for efficient work and effective effort.

A recent popular approach is David Allen’s action-management approach, Getting Things Done. His detailed plan calls for writing things down to allow the mind to focus on the task at hand, and defining specific actions that can be taken for successful outcomes.

I’m experimenting with Allen’s approach through the free Tiddlyspot.com service and Simon Baird’s mGSD adaptation. After the GTD people asked Baird to change the name of his version of it, because of copyright issues, he called it “Getting Stuff Done.”

Because I work in two languages and with people personally, in print and on the Internet, details multiply faster than guppies. So I appreciate a good system to manage projects and tasks.

The names of the two systems I’m using suggest some lines of thought for a broader picture, however.

God’s saints concern themselves with getting more than “things” or “stuff” done. Their focus is on doing the will of God. In this they follow the example of the Master. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38 NET). He called the will of God his “food” (John 4:34). It was his Father’s will and not his own that he sought to do (John 5:30).

To “seek” God’s will, as Jesus said in this latter verse, does not suggest trying that might fail, but focus that admits no other possibility. In this word, to paraphrase Yoda, there is no try. There is only the doing.

And so he did. In his prayer he said he had completed the work the Father had sent him to do (John 16:4). Paul writes that our Lord Jesus Christ “gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4).

Christ did not come to earth to do mere things or stuff. He was clear on what the will of God is. “For this is the will of my Father — for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

Evangelicals speak and write much about discovering the will of God. They look for signs and voices. But the Scriptures reveal his will, which is all-encompassing. No action or thought or word falls outside the revealed will of the Father. There is never any thing or stuff to do that God has not covered in his will.

But what about the choice of a mate, school, or job, which the Bible doesn’t touch on directly? God has given us minds to apply his revealed wisdom to our daily situations and life decisions. The examples of our Lord and those approved models in the New Testament provide rich material for doing the will of God.

Another wonderful truth surfaces from this. Nothing we do is a mere thing or qualifies as lowly stuff. The lowest service, the basest task, has meaning when placed under the will of God.

God’s will is the great unifier of life, the glue of existence, the reason for doing all, the motive for jumping out of bed in the morning. The will of the Father permeates the body, energizes the mind, excites the heart, raises the eyes toward the ultimate meaning behind every single task to be performed.

Systems such as Getting Things Done and Getting Stuff Done are neutral mechanisms that can be used by saint and pagan alike. But the disciple of Christ, if he chooses to use them, will do more than get stuff done. He will do the will of God.

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