If you are wondering how to get better results for your efforts, but are not sure where to begin, then this may be the book for you. It is called Smarter, Faster, Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity, by Charles Duhigg (Random House, 2016). The author is a journalist who has gone on a search to discover what very productive people do that sets them apart from average folk. He has conducted interviews, read tons of research, observed practices, and come up with a list of eight insightful chapters that opened my imagination to things that I had not considered. Each chapter offers a possibility to implement in daily work and living in order to be more productive. All eight would be more than necessary, but to choose one or two of these proven methods for improved fruitfulness would certainly be worth a try.

Fans of Patrick Lencioni (The Advantage, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Death by Meeting, etc.) will find his latest book among his best. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues (Jossey-Bass, 2016) focuses on team building and how to recruit, develop, and keep the best people for an effective, healthy team. The book provides a story that illustrates the principles, then it moves to articulate the principles themselves. The ideal team player is someone who is humble, hungry, and smart (as in “people smart”). Looking for these key virtues in ourselves and in those we invite to be on our teams will greatly enhance the fruitfulness of our teams. The book provides appendices for interviews and evaluations, as well as insights on how to work with people who do not have all three of these key virtues. It is an engaging and worthwhile read.

On a more theological note, Matthew W. Bates has written Salvation by Allegiance Alone (Baker Academic, 2017). Dr. Bates comes from the Reformed (Calvinist) tradition, so there are some parts of the book that stretch our Wesleyan perspectives. The basic thesis of the book, however, is adaptable across a broad spectrum. It is a new way of reading the Greek word pistis, which has traditionally been translated as “faith” or “trust.” Dr. Bates explains why a better translation of the word is “allegiance.” He then explores the implications of how thinking about “allegiance” as the essence of faithfulness, in the teachings of Jesus, Paul, and in the mission of the church today. If you want a fresh, new way of interpreting this key Christian teaching, here is a good book to ponder.