Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Tag: meditation

Learning to Work Deep: A review

We live in an inter-connected world, filled with collaborative tools and awash with information.  But we also live in a deeply-distracted world and this is the serious downside to the interconnectivity we enjoy. We live in a world where few people seem to have retained the ability to concentrate deeply on a single project. This is no less true of missionaries, or at least all missionaries that are connected to the Internet through their phones and computers on a fairly consistent basis.

In Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport seeks to Deep Workconvince us of the importance of learning once again the skills of focused concentration and shows us some simple rules that he has learned to help him overcome this constant allure of distraction.

Newport is a professor of computer science (Georgetown) as well as a profilic author who writes about the impact of the technologies of the digital age on our life and work. The guidelines that he promotes in the book are ones that he has consistently practiced in his own life and work.  He gives multiple examples of how they have changed his own approach to work. One of the most attractive selling points of his approach is Newport’s testimony almost never works past 5:30 pm, nor does he work on weekends – while still teaching regularly in a prestigious university, writing multiple peer-reviewed articles each year, and publishing five books. Learning to do deep work is radically different that “drowning” in our work.

Puritan Meditation: the centerpiece of spiritual formation

In our pre-field training and on-field coaching of missionaries, we emphasize the critical importance of feeding yourself spiritually, or in other words, taking the initiative to regularly nurture your soul in a context where the busyness of ministry and stress of cross-cultural living can make it difficult to keep our hearts and minds set on things above (Col 3:1-2).   Feedback from our missionaries in training suggests that this emphasis is greatly appreciated and desperately needed.    One of those ways that we can feed ourselves spiritually is by learning the spiritual discipline of meditation.   In this area, we have few better teachers than the Puritans.

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