“The garden within our private world cannot remain uncultivated for long before it becomes infected with the sort of growth that makes it uninviting, both to the indwelling Lord and to us ourselves. When neglected for long it becomes more like a dump than a garden. And then we have to rely upon external resources of strength and direction to keep it moving ahead.” (p. 186)
That’s the heart of Gordon MacDonald’s classic: Ordering Your Private World. The latest updated version contemporizes some of the comments and illustrations from earlier editions. MacDonald guides the reader through five sectors that bring order to our private worlds: motivation, use of time, wisdom and knowledge, spiritual strength, and restoration. Within each sector are multiple chapters. Each chapter begins with a memo that summarizes the chapter and sets the table for what to expect:
Chapter 3 – memo to the disorganized: if my private world is in order, it will be because I have courageously confronted the messiness of my ways of living and chosen to bring them under rigorous discipline. (p. 27)
These “memos to the disorganized” are a great shorthand way to yank out the main point of each chapter. A list of those in the index would be a great help in using the material as a handbook for bringing our private lives into a sense of biblical order. MacDonald does so much more than simply provide a system for organizing your files and keeping track of expenses (he does neither here). He really seeks to help men and women remove the chaff from their lives so that they may be able to serve Jesus Christ more fully. Consider this Memo to the Disorganized from p. 117: “If my private world is in order, it will be because I seek to use all I learn in service to others, as Christ did.”
You may find the study guide helpful for group study – something that your church staff may benefit from. I was a little disappointed to see so many illustrations from the pastorate. I wonder if non-pastors would find that to be a hurdle to their appreciation of the very helpful and practical guidance provided. I guess since the book has sold over 1 million copies that a bunch of non-pastors were able to mine value out of the pages of the book despite my wonderings.
MacDonald does an excellent job of calling men and women to bring simplicity and efficiency (order) to their lives so that they might find deeper satisfaction and effectiveness in life in general and in service more specifically. It is a lesson that I am in constant need of reminders and am glad to have read “Ordering Your Private World” again.
Memo to the Disorganized: If my private world is in order, it will be because I have begun to pursue the discipline of seeing events and people through the eyes of Christ so that my prayers reflect my desire to be in alignment with His purposes and promises for them. (p. 171)