Practicality and beauty—can they go hand in hand?
I have been reading the book Whats Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. The book presents a gospel-oriented perspective on the proper motivation to drive productivity.
One of the interesting points that Matt makes in his book is that shoddy work is a failure of love. He quotes Proverbs 18:9, “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” Equating being slack with destroying, Matt shows that creating something of inferior-quality is not loving, because the Bible equates it with destroying.
Matt goes on to say that we are to care about good design and involve beauty in our work. That what we create should not just be about “usability” but also about “beauty.” He states that our products need to speak to the whole person, not just the practical, utilitarian side.
Matt has a great point. I have often said that when authors and small publishers produce Christian books that are inferior in cover design, internal layout and design, and in need of editing, that such books do not reflect well on our Creator whom each book is about. Inferior quality books actually reflect poorly on Christ and do not help to advance the gospel.
Some authors refute this saying that it is what is in the message that matters more than the presentation. However, Matt Perman’s take that shoddy work is a failure to love negates this idea. We are created in God’s image. That means humankind is designed to be both emotional and practical. God is beautiful. Our work should reflect his beauty and bring glory to him.
If we truly love God and others as ourselves, we will give them our best, not our haphazard efforts or leftovers. Presenting our message in a well-designed package (book design) demonstrates our love for both God and our fellow man. While there may be a good message in a cheap package, the message becomes more powerful when it is wrapped in beauty and hence speaks to the whole person.
What about you? Are you ensuring that your books are creations of beauty as well as utility? Are you taking the time, effort, and money to produce books that truly reflect your Creator? If you do, your message will have a greater impact.