Ordering your private world… a must read

If you have never read Gordon McDonald’s book, Ordering Your Private World, do yourself and everyone you encounter a favor… go buy it, read it, and begin practicing what he teaches.

McDonald suggests that each of us have “two worlds”: 1) our public world, and 2) our private world.

He writes,

Our public worlds are filled with a seeming infinity of demands upon our time, our loyalties, our money, and our energies. And because these public worlds of ours are so visible, so real, we have to struggle to ignore all their seductions and demands. They scream for our attention and action.

But there is a private world in every one of us. A world that may be as infinite in size as we perceive our public worlds to be. But often the private world – like the depths of the ocean – remains unexplored, full of surprises, ambushes, emotions, and dreams.

A few pages later he makes an observation that sets up the whole book,

He quotes Wayne Muller, “The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a single mindful breath, this has become the model of a succesfull life.”

Our Western cultural values have helped to blind us to this tendency. We are naively inclined to believe that the most publicly active person is the most privately spiritual. We assume that the larger the church, the greater the heavenly blessing. The more information about the Bible a person possesses, we think, the closer he or she must be to God.

Because we tend to think like this, there is the temptation to give imbalanced attention to our public worlds at the expense of the private. More programs, more meetings, more learning experiences, more relationships, more busyness; until it all becomes so heavy at the surface of life that the whole thing trembles on the verge of collapse. Fatigue, disillusionment, failure, defeat all become frightening possibilities. The neglected private world can no longer hold the weight.

What’s the solution to all of this chaos created by busyness and drivenness? McDonald says,

There must be a quiet place where all is in order, a place from which comes the energy that overcomes turbulence and is not intimidated by it. And that place is the “Private world.”

The rest of this book is dedicated to teaching the reader how to get the “Private world” in order so that the “outward and inward man may be one.”

5 thoughts on “Ordering your private world… a must read

  1. Actually, it is sitting on my night stand waiting for me to read it. God has just used your message to send me to read it. Thank you
    Sorry I haven’t posted lately, I had a computer glitch. Just figured out my pop ups for blocked and it wouldn’t allow me to send to any blogs from home.

  2. Paul,
    It has been a while since I read it. But I remember that MacDonald used a garden illustration that was very helpful. Something along the lines of it takes daily weeding, watering, care to maintain the beautiful place that God walks and talks with you in the cool of the evening. That is an awesome word picture for me.
    I really appreciate your breadth of reading — how do you determine what’s next? How do you connect Scripture study with extra-Biblical stuff you are reading? For example, as you read MacDonald, are you reading through 1 & 2 Samuel? David’s inner garden got totally neglected for a few moments in 2 Sam 11 and the rest of the story is his fight to regain the spot that he loved the most.

  3. Ordering Your Private World has been on of the most inspiring books I have read for quite some time now. I do believe Gordon MacDonald has been divinely inspired to write to someone like me. It was one of the recommended books I had to read for my Leadership Development class, and it was breath-taking. I know I will have to read it again after I have completed this course. I promised my wife and myself that we will take some time out to vacation and time alone with Christ at least 2 times during each year; and this decision was made after reading this book. Often times we seek to serve others and become guilty if we take some “down” time for ourselves, but in actuality, we need not be guilty, we all need time alone with one’s self and his/her God. Gordon, keep writing for the Lord is surely using you to speak with the tired and lame.

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