Yes, I read and reviewed this last year, but as The Harbor is undergoing a church-wide study on the book, I read it again. I’m counting it!
Our community group is reading and discussing it, and I feel that talking about it with others I’m close to helps in understanding and appreciating Platt’s call for a radical lifestyle. We are able to look into how materialism has crept into our lives, and find ways to avoid having it our master.
I know that some charge Platt with creating a new type of legalism, but that is unfounded. We are too quick to rationalize Jesus’ command to “sell everything that you have and give it to the poor” that we cling with white knuckles the things that are temporary in our lives and do nothing.
You owe it to your faith to read this book and to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ is greater and sweeter than the siren’s song of Madison Avenue.
Alongside Crazy Love and Radical, John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life completes the triumvirate of books pleading with our American Christian culture to do more with our life than chase after the American Dream. This came before the other two, and perhaps led to this new subgenre of Christian books. It is a message that I need to hear often, as I need to be reminded that this world is not all there is to life.
There is much in the book that I enjoyed thinking about. The two main areas are Piper’s thoughts on how we should view our work and how television is a great time waster. For work, Piper explains that “good, honest work is not the saving Gospel of God, but a crooked Christian car salesmen is a blemish on the Gospel and puts a roadblock in the way of seeing the beauty of Christ. And sloth may be a greater stumbling block than crime. Should Christians be known in their offices as the ones you go to if you have a problem, but not the ones to go to with a complex professional issue? It doesn’t have to be either-or. The biblical mandate is: ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men’”(Colossians 3:23; cf. Ephesians 6:7). I was encouraged to be a better teacher as a better witness for Christ. We all worked with those Christians who spent more time jabbing on about religion or Jesus, but everyone knew then as a sloths. For the opposite, I think of my friends Dan and Jace serving in the Air Force at Kadena Air Base. Both are solid Christian men, and excellent workers in their respective shops. Good, honest, trustworthy work brings glory to God in ways that merely talking about Him cannot.
Piper’s section on “Television, the Great Life-Waster” was one of my favorite portions. No matter who you are or where you on in your walk with Jesus, we do not need to be convinced that T.V. wastes our time. Piper quotes from Neil Postman in saying that: “What is happening in America is that television is trans- forming all serious public business into junk. . . . Television disdains exposition, which is serious, sequential, rational, and complex. It offers instead a mode of discourse in which everything is accessible, simplistic, concrete, and above all, entertaining. As a result, America is the world’s first culture in jeopardy of amusing itself to death.”
I’ll end with a popular quote from this book regarding the clutter and trifles on which we waste our life.
I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.
I have to say that Work the System was my most anticipated book of recent memory. In fact, right up until the end of the book I was anticipating something better to come. I felt like Edmund Pevensie from the Chronicles of Narnia lusting after Turkish Delight but never finding the satisfaction I was looking for.
I am craving order in my life and making some changes. The idea of creating systems to simplify my life was intriguing but not as all encompassing or immediately applicable as I had hoped.
I will give props to the author on two fronts: First quitting caffeine cold turkey was definitely the way to go. Secondly, he does a great job of bringing to life the ideas presented in Michael Gerber's "The E Myth Revisited"
The book is a little verbose and he repeated things like being a single Dad while going through all of this at least 5 or 6 times. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it was 100 pages instead of 228. The other major drawback to me is that he doesn't really offer practical help on creating systems. For $200 he offers software that will help you create systems in your life. I think that is what I was looking for right up to the end but not ready to plunk down $200 for some templates.
That being said I definitely think it was worth the read and I am going to give it
**** stars out of five.
From January 12 to the 15th at 3pm PST you can get a PDF copy of the book for free by sending an email to email@example.com.