Many of us have now realized how busy we were before quarantine.

My initial reaction to the stay-at-home order was withdrawal and a desire to return to lightspeed. Then, upon week three of reflection and analysis of the good ole days of February, I realized that there are a few things that can be cut from my routines of life. This reflection is healthy pruning and should be part of an intentional life. Afterall, I am living a life on mission (Matthew 28:16) and I value both intentionality and mindfulness.

In fact, I spent much of my time in 2019 researching how to be more mindful and intentional in my religious activities and my work processes. I read twelve books that correspond with this pursuit and I found three of them to be profound and literally life changing. I want to share these gems with you, along with a brief explanation of how they impacted my routines and practices. Here we go:

  1. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung

This book, written from a Christian perspective, will convict those who bask in the glorification of “busy.” My auto-response to people who asked about my personal life used to be “I’m busy” or some version of blah busy speech. DeYoung rightly points out how many Christians have glorified the busy and have lost sight of the distinction of “busy” and “on mission.” Those who are on mission will take rest seriously, since we are running a long, hard race. Stuffing each moment with productivity is short sighted and it doesn’t do much justice to our created design. We are meant to sabbath. We are meant to have margin to assess who we are and what we are doing before God. This short book will explain how to do this well.

  1. The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction by Justin Earley

You might already be tuned into just how busy you have become, but you are looking for a way forward. How do I de-clutter this life I have cobbled together? Good question. Justin Earley has some suggestions from a Christian perspective, on how to live life on purpose and how to create boundaries or a “rule” for life. This practice has a rich history in the Christian tradition and Justin taps into this brilliantly and in ways relevant to those of us not living in the monastery. Justin helped me realize that I can honor God through honoring boundaries I establish to keep my life on the rails. In short, choosing obedience over productivity is freeing!

  1. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

This book is not written from a Christian perspective, but it provides valuable research that helps us achieve our Christian aims. As an example, the “Protestant work ethic” has long been touted as a point of pride for Christians. Part of that work ethic included a devotion to craftsmanship that is beginning to see revival in the U.S., in bakeries, blue jean makers, shoe smiths, and more! This work requires deep focus because it’s detailed work. Newport helps his readers understand the meaning and value of “deep work” while also giving instruction on how to do it—no matter your discipline or trade. Use this book to inspire your digital habits and be vigilant about rooting out the good to replace it with the great.

I hope this list is helpful to your pursuit of meaningful Kingdom activity. I pray that you read and are encouraged to slow down. You were designed to get pleasure from rest, and there is something freeing about being certain of that fact.