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Getting Things Done: Better Call Agent 007-0827

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Or should we call a prayer meeting?

“Agency” is a word for getting something done. In a philosophical sense, it is the capacity to act in the world. It has to do with choice-making and accomplishment and focus—especially focus. We hire an advertising agency when we need to offload some critical marketing element and make sure it happens. That agency accepts the mission and acts. And so we pay their fee.

Why hire agency? Because we don’t have the capacity to do it ourselves, whether that means talent or headcount or time or interest or focus or all of the above. But the critical thing needs to be done and must be done. So we get someone we can trust to do it. There is an entire industry set up around the notion of getting things done. Time management is always a hot topic for any gender in business or academia and in the rest of life.

MotherTeresa-08272014

But agency has a tricky theological side. Even non-theists debate determinism versus free will. And Christians, well—we’ll kill each other over our views of how the world works. Just find an Anabaptist and ask how their minority voice was received by their determinist rulers, way back when.

Why bring in theology when talking about getting things done in real life? Isn’t theology the useless opposite of getting things done here on earth?

Yes.

And, No.

Because while we can accomplish much with our time-management techniques, there is much outside our ability. Like changing someone’s mind. Or opening long-closed doors. Or protecting oppressed people from their brutal dictator. Or helping a nation care about all its citizens (versus just the privileged ones).

What the time-management industry does not answer and cannot answer is how to work with these very large questions that deal with agency in the larger world. So we back off and shut down and feel guilty.

Can we pursue agency that sees and acts on larger things? Some of my heroes are doing this and their agency consists of some combination of prayer and action and faith and presence.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

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Written by kirkistan

August 27, 2014 at 9:16 am

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