In between books, I listen to sermons from various churches (I'll post a list soon). My intent is to highlight one of these every week.
However, this week the most important spiritual lesson I gleaned came from a very non-Christian source-- a Tim Ferriss podcast interview with Josh Waitzkin. Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek and other books highlighting productivity hacks. Waitzkin was the subject of Searching for Bobby Fischer, and is a chess Grand Master and now a Tai Chi martial arts champion as well.
I found this blog post summarizing the main points very well.
Waitzkin is a consultant to well-known, accomplished professionals-- helping them find ways to achieve mastery, overcome cognitive biases, and learning from their behaviors and habits. One personal key to his day, and what he sees as the most common trait among successful traders, CEOs, and other professionals, is meditation. Waitzkin spends hours a day practicing meditation and proper breathing. This helps him stay creative and productive, and assists him in times of stress or when he's tempted to get angry.
The very first book I finished this year was Richard Foster's Prayer (my review). He explains the importance of prayer as a spiritual discipline and how to see everything we do in a day as an ongoing conversation with God. But he also espouses the importance of taking time out to meditate prayerfully on God's Word. I used his book to change a few of my own habits, but not at the deep level I should have. While I maintain a "quiet time," I find it hard to purposefully set aside extended times of silence for prayer, meditation, and journaling. I'm always too eager to move onto the next thing or to check my quiet time and Bible reading off my list.
This is partly why I think all Christians should do yoga at least once a week (I'll write an article on this one day). It requires concentration, endurance, breathing, and improves muscle health and balance. I find it hard to do yoga once a week, even though I always benefit from it.
Hence, the Ferriss and Waitzkin interview was very convicting-- here are people who don't know God reaping a huge benefit of practicing something Christians should be All-Stars at-- and something Jesus himself demonstrated for us (Mark 1:35). Ferriss and Waitzkin are meditating to "start from a creative place" rather than getting in touch with their Creator.
Many articles I've read on productivity always say to never start the day with email-- a reactive activity -- and instead focus on creativity. I'm too guilty of checking my email in the midst of my morning routine. This causes me to think about how I'm going to respond, or other things I need to do during the day, instead of remembering to focus on the most important things. I read an article by a life coach yesterday arguing that "multitasking jams the voice of God."
When Ferriss asks Waitzkin "if your house was on fire and you could save one thing, what would it be?" he responds that there is nothing material that he would save-- so long as his family was safe, there really isn't anything he owns that he wouldn't let go of. That's also big, right?
There are other great insights from the interview, such as finishing the work day with quality work and what to do after you leave your place of work. I highly recommend listening.
(If you're looking for a church sermon this week, check out this Mark Dever sermon on Psalm 56, preached on May 4. I rather like Dever's sermons on the Psalms.)