DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Deep Works in Ministry

Written by: on October 10, 2018

This is a clip by Cal Newport that gives an example of what his precursor book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” was emphasizing. It is an interesting perspective.

In his book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” Cal Newport challenged the reader to do 5 primary things:

  1. Develop rare and valuable skills
  2. Create control over projects
  3. Create control over your time
  4. Which should create a more positive impact on the world
  5. Which should result in working with people you enjoy[1]

The premise was building up a more successful means of following a path with promise, rather than pursuing a career that was established by impulse and passion.

In his follow up book, “Deep Work,” Newport address the ways for the highly-motivated to find better efficiency in a modern, highly distracted world. “Anyone living and working in the twenty-first century will be well aware of the abundance of distractions and the frantic pace that life takes on. [2]

Newport defines “Deep Work” as, “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”[3]Though “Deep Work” is intended, and most likely read, as a self-help book for the younger generation entering the business field, as usual, I sought to find the potential spiritual or religious implications that could be stripped from its pages; I can honestly say, I was not disappointed. In Sam Davies review of this book, he listed some of the primary ideas that he gleaned from its reading; two of these hung with me:

  1. “In order to produce the absolute best stuff you’re capable of, you need to commit to deep work.[4]” Well, this comment immediately brought to mind Paul’s instruction to Timothy; “Be diligent to present yourself approved by God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.[5]” In order for us to truly successful as ministers of the gospel, we must never forget what is at stake, and thus, never go into the battle unprepared (I’ll let Mike pick up from here.)
  2. “The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions…”[6]As some may have heard me mention in Hong Kong, I have opted to change my dissertation. Though my topic is changing to Baptism, it is more the reason for the change that really related to this reading. I keep hearing the word “modern” used a lot these days to explain why we can be justified in changing things that I believe are very specific in Scripture. Often the reasons given toward these justifications are established as a means of accommodation, simplification, and…as the author put it…good intentions. However, for our work to be considered “Good” in the eyes of God, we must realize that our ministry has to be built on more than good intentions and accommodation.

I believe as leaders, we must establish early on what we will decide is the measure of our success: If a church is focused on money, then often you will see success judged by the bottom dollar; if it is focused on conversion, then it will be based upon baptisms in a year; if it is based upon missions, then it will be determined by how many have been sent how, or how many countries have been reached. However, I believe the struggle is greater than all these things. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.[7]” This tells us that true spiritual success is not founded in how Shawn sees success, but rather in establishing our ministries around how God judges success; after all, Christ also warned us, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.[8]” It seems we have become a church that has focused so much on simplicity and numbers, that we have forgot that we were called to something much greater. Toward the end of “Deep Work,” Newport writes, “The deep life, of course, is not for everybody. It requires hard work and drastic changes to your habits.[9]” Though he was commenting about email-messaging, the fact is that this point has a deep message in regard to how we view our ministries; ministry is not supposed to be about doing things the easy way, but rather, the right way.

Though I saw a very broad business nature to this reading, much of which (if I am truly honest) did not move me, what I did find in this book was plenty for inspiring Christian leaders to search for motives in their ministerial direction. Paul also wrote to Timothy, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.[10]” We have been called, and we will be measured one day on the ministries that we have committed to Christ; as leaders, we must realize that we have been called to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.[11]



Davies, S. T. (2018). Deep Work by Cal Newport. Retrieved from Samuel Thomas Davies:

Lee, K. (2016). Book Review: Deep Work. Retrieved from Associate’s Mind:

Minors, P. (2016, April 5). Deep Work: Book Summary. Retrieved from Paul Minors:

Newport, C. (2016). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success to a Distracted World.New York: Grand Central Publishing.



[1]Lee, K. (2016). Book Review: Deep Work. Retrieved from Associate’s Mind:

[2]Minors, P. (2016, April 5). Deep Work: Book Summary. Retrieved from Paul Minors:

[3]Newport, C. (2016). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success to a Distracted World.New York: Grand Central Publishing. P 2.

[4]Davies, S. T. (2018). Deep Work by Cal Newport. Retrieved from Samuel Thomas Davies:

[5]2 Timothy 2:15.


[7]John 14:15.

[8]Matthew 16:27

[9]Newport, p. 262.

[10]2 Timothy 1:12.

[11]Matthew 5:16.

About the Author

Shawn Hart

4 responses to “Deep Works in Ministry”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Thanks for adding Scripture to your analysis of Newport’s deepish works book. You know, Paul is an excellent example of someone who multitasked in the New Testament as a scholar, tent-maker, missionary, and someone who never slowed down on his call to advance the Gospel and suffer for the Lord! I doubt Newport would approve of Paul’s practices, but nevertheless his Kingdom work has lasted for over 2000 years and continues to be studied, practiced, and followed from 13 books of the Bible.
    Yes! We must never go into battle unprepared lest we fall short, are struck down, and fail in our incarnational witness to the world. Good post!
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  2. Good post, Shawn!

    Thanks for giving us a great opening to Cal’s background and within the context of his previous book. It painted a better picture of the author and his leadership goals. You mention that you found that Cal Newport’s audience was directed towards those who were from a younger generation. I would love for you to delve deeper into this concept? I actually found his writing difficult to grasp as a younger entrepreneur. It’s been interesting to peruse everyone’s reaction to this text and see it from their perspective. I’ve noticed that we each utilize social media differently and many see it as a personal community of friendship, then a network for business. With that in mind, it gives me a greater understanding of Newport’s purpose behind Deep Work.

    You assert that, “We have been called, and we will be measured one day on the ministries that we have committed to Christ…” Ministry is definitely measurable. It’s imperative that we reach out audience and be faithful to the call that God has placed on our lives. It’s also important to not neglect being present and intentional about our time. How would you describe a healthy balance for pastors in regard to one’s being and doing?

  3. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Shawn,

    I watched the video. Thanks for sharing that. I did not realize he looked younger than my teen ager (grin). I was shocked that one of the female reviewers of your video said about the author, “Is hot. Would bang.” My oh my…

    Thanks for your reference to Scripture. I wonder if this author has any faith background? Maybe does not seem like it, but I don’t know.

    Deep Work has some merit, just think if Newport would have included some of the Spiritual. Then his title would have had a strong double meaning, with true Deep Work that is eternally lasting.


  4. Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for your observations. I like how you found some scriptural texts to echo Newport.

    I see truths in Deep Work that can apply to ministry contexts. One in particular seemed obvious: the idea of sabbatical or taking a Sabbath – whether a longer period of months, or a weekly pattern of rest days – seemed to have a lot of resonance within Newport’s thinking. God built us for productivity but also with a need for rest and renewal. Do you have any practices along these lines that help you in your ministry?

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