Zondervan, 2018. 284pp.
We have all been there. Stuck. Overwhelmed by projects. Feeling uncertain if we can meet expectations. Stuck. In Matt Perman’s sophomore book: How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity, he wants to help you get unstuck.
This reviewer has two main criticisms of Perman’s latest book. First, each chapter is wordy. Frequently his desire to communicate all he has researched overshadows the main point he is trying to make. His exhaustive work is at times exhausting reading.
Second, the book seems unbalanced. This reader felt that more time was devoted to explaining how people get stuck versus equipping them to get unstuck. Parts one and two of the book could have been significantly shortened and still accomplish the book’s purpose. These criticisms, however, do not discount the overall value of the book.
Perman’s main theme is that people who are doing remarkable things—pastoring, teaching, raising toddlers—often feel stuck. As a result, they can be discouraged about their future. He argues that when you feel stuck, do not take those feelings as a sign of discouragement but a reminder that you are doing important things. This insight alone is worth the costs of the book.
To accomplish those important things—to get unstuck—Perman proposes an understanding of why people get stuck. He also offers tools to engage in processes of personal effectiveness. The aim for each reader is to be able to break free from what is holding you back from the greatest impact you can make for the Kingdom of God this side of eternity.
How to Get Unstuck does cause the reader to develop and practice a healthy self-awareness: awareness of how they get stuck; awareness of what contributes to their feelings of being overwhelmed; and awareness of practices they are engaged in, and ones they should adopt to get unstuck. Practicing a healthy self-awareness is a matter of guarding your own heart.
Perman does not want to provide a quick fix to the readers personal effectiveness. Quick fixes do not create long-term results. Perman’s goal is to understand why you feel stuck and how to get unstuck so when you get stuck again you will recognize where you are and know how to address it. Getting unstuck is about leading yourself towards effective practices that change the world.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Pastors may feel more stuck than others: preaching week after week only to see very little spiritual growth; caring for the church member who keeps making the same destructive life choices again and again; that fire put out last week has somehow shown up this week in someone else’s life. Pastors can easily feel stuck.
How to Get Unstuck provides some tremendous value for pastoral ministry in three ways. First, pastors get discouraged. Getting stuck is likened to throwing gasoline on a match. It is going to blow and make a mess. This reviewer wonders how feeling stuck contributes to pastoral substance abuse and moral failings. Self-destruction may feel like the only option to get unstuck from a ministry bog. Pastors should work through this book as a way to guard their hearts, protect their future, and their church.
Second, Perman raises the value of personal vision. Having a vision that is greater than your pastoral ministry role will get you unstuck. Perman proposes a process to develop a personal vision that can then translate into your calendar and tasks list.
Third, Perman delivers beneficial practices for personal effectiveness. Pastors may know how to exegete scripture and conduct in-depth word studies but managing their time seems to be a mystery that some get and others don’t. In sections three and four Perman provides a framework for precise processes to get on top of your life and ministry.
Overall, How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity is a good read. Some of the chapters are more focused than others. There are ideas and phrases in each chapter that are helpful. However, the key to getting unstuck is not only reading the book but applying what is proposed.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
This LifeWay Pastors review was written by Rob Hurtgen.