Lessons from Deep Work

Deep Work by Cal Newport is one of the best books I've read so far this year. It's about the ability to focus, without distraction, on a difficult task.

I'd recommend reading the book, but you can also read Newport's blog.

Here are some of the ideas I'm implementing from the book.

Create rituals. I'm working on implementing a morning routine that gives me more time for devotions, journaling, and writing. Intentionality in creating rituals is very helpful in learning how to do deep work.

Make grand gestures. Just as J.K. Rowling checked into a hotel to complete The Deathly Hallows, it's occasionally helpful to leverage a radical change in environment, as well as an investment of time and money, to make progress on a goal. I just employed this tactic this week in booking a writing day.

Shut down at night. Aim for 5:30. Set a firm goal, and then work backward to meet that goal. Then stop thinking about work, completely, until the next morning. I'm still working on this one.

Limit social media. Try fasting from some types of social media without telling anyone. See if you miss it. See if anyone misses you.

Plan days. Instead of spending the day on autopilot, or spending the day reacting, choose work in advance.

These are some things I'm working on implementing. It's definitely a book worth digesting and implementing.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

The Cost and Beauty of Marriage

"Marriage is a steel trap."

I hadn't expected to hear these words. I was a young, newly engaged seminary student taking the first class of a marriage counseling course. The professor, a seasoned marriage counselor in Toronto, began to explain his view of marriage based on his own experience, as well as the hundreds of couples that he'd counseled.

I looked around the room nervously, wondering if it was a joke. It wasn't.

"Marriage will bring you more heartbreak than any other relationship you'll experience," he continued. "But it will also bring you more joy. It is the hardest but also the most fulfilling human relationship you will ever have."

Of all the advice given to me before I was married, this ranks among the best. It prepared me for the times that marriage has been difficult. There's a cost in committing oneself to another sinner for better and for worse, and the more we're prepared for that cost, the better off we'll be. I'm glad that I was warned to expect hard times in marriage, because they've come. It's easy to recite part of the marriage vows (for better, for richer, in health) and think the latter half (for worse, for poorer, in sickness) won't apply.

But I'm glad that I was told that marriage would bring me so much joy. This relationship that has exposed so much of my sinfulness, that has sometimes left me frustrated and both of us in tears, has also been the relationship that has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine or deserve. When I look at my wife, I realize how much I've been blessed.

There's suffering in this thing called marriage, but there's more joy than you can imagine. Somehow they exist together.

There's one more piece of advice I heard as a newly engaged man. "You think you're in love now?" an older man asked. "Wait a couple of decades, and then you'll know what love is." Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. I think I'm beginning to understand what he meant.

What a ride; what a combination of cost and disproportionate reward. This is the beauty and the cost of marriage. I'm grateful.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Clarity

If you asked me which virtue I undervalued before, but value now, it wouldn't even be close. Hands down, I'd say clarity.

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Personal Clarity

Personal clarity is knowing who you are. It's being clear about your identity, what you value, and what you're good at. Without personal clarity, it's difficult to set a course for life, or to evaluate choices. It's a process of discovery more than invention. It's hard work, but it pays off in spades.

I appreciate Will Mancini's work on personal clarity. I've also appreciated Younique Ability by Strategic Coach, Why You Can't Be Anything You Want To Be by Arthur Miller, as well as Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer. Personal clarity is key.

Preaching Clarity

Haddon Robinson writes, "For preachers clarity is a moral matter. It is not merely a question of rhetoric, but a matter of life and death." Getting clear on the message of the text, and knowing how to clearly communicate that message to the audience in front of you, is crucial. Clarity is essential to good preaching.

Leadership Clarity

Marcus Buckingham says, "Clarity is the preoccupation of the effective leader.  If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear."

I know why clarity is so rare: it's costly. Its cost, though, is also what makes it so valuable.

Pursue clarity. As Will Mancini says, "Clarity isn't everything, but it changes everything."

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Four Post-Vacation Reflections

One of the most revealing moments is the drive home from a vacation. I find that when I'm away for a couple of weeks, I become more aware of how I'm really doing. Problems that I've ignored bubble to the surface. Apprehension and hope flood the soul as I return closer to home.

I just returned from vacation last week. As we drove home from Montreal to Toronto, I had the opportunity to reflect. Here are four things I observed.

I am blessed to be a church planter.

Having been away from Liberty Grace Church for a couple of weeks, I couldn't wait to get back. That's a good feeling. Church planting is hard, and I've faced my share of frustration. Being away, however, reminded me that I am a blessed man. I am part of a small, new church with people I love, in a community I love. It is an unspeakable privilege to pastor them, and to look for ways to reach people who've never heard the gospel. I am incredibly blessed.

I am an idolatrous man.

I did sense some apprehension on the way home, and it had to do with me. Specifically, I found myself wrestling with some insecurities about my leadership. While I want to be a good leader, I realized that some of my insecurities have to do with proving myself, even wanting to make a name for myself. It sounds silly when I say it, but it's true.

While on vacation, I realized again that ministry can flow out of my relationship with Jesus, but it can also flow out of my insecurities and need to prove myself. It's the difference between being called and driven. I need to pay attention to this issue in my soul.

I have been too busy.

While on vacation, I read Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much. I was reminded of some important lessons in this book, and I'll write about them on Thursday. As a result of reading this book, though, I've made some simple but hard changes in how I work, and it's making a difference. I need to make sure that I'm not too busy to get to my most important work.

My identity is found in my relationship to Christ.

There's something about taking a break from our regular routines to recenter on what is most important. I am a lot of things: a husband, father, church planter, and friend. Most importantly, I'm an adopted Son of the King, a child of God, a co-heir with Jesus. I forget it regularly, but I'm glad I remembered it while on vacation. There are few things more important in my life than remembering who God is, and who I am in relation to him.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

On Vacation

I'll be back to blogging on Saturday, August 15.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.