I have heard people say to me “Man you read a lot!” or something similar a number of times over the past few months and so I have decided to blog about reading over the next few blog posts.

It may surprise some of you that I have not always been a reader. When I was a teenager I really only read basketball and guitar magazines. When I first went to Bible College in 2001 I had read only one or two good Christian books and, needless to say, college was tough. I was swamped by how much reading and how little time there was. It was always my plan to go to college for a year and do some ministry and come back and finish my degree off so when I left college battered and bruised by the rightly tough academic standards I decided I needed to become a reader come hell or high water. So I devoted myself to an hour of reading a day. I first started off with popular christian books and I worked my way up to harder titles. I have tried to keep up an hour of reading a day (except on weekends) since then and here are the benefits I have accrued from reading:

1. Increased knowledge and skills

I have found that reading has expanded my knowledge and skills in so many different areas. For example my leadership skills have grown as I have read books like Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky or The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. I have learned more about theology, the Bible and the gospel as I have read books like The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards and He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit by Graham Cole. To my mind the leader who stops reading probably stops growing or, to put it more carefully, isn’t growing as rapidly as they could. 

2. Freshness of ideas

As a pastor, I have one message and one message only. My job is like a mailman because, just like a mailman, my job is to deliver the message without tampering it at all. But how do you come at the gospel in a fresh way every week? This is where reading has helped. Reading books like Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp and The Holiness of God by R.C Sproul have helped me see the gospel and it’s implications in fresh, exciting and yet faithful ways. As a leader and preacher reading helps me stay fresh and I hope my church benefits from this also. If you feel stale get a great book and read to refresh yourself!

3. Encouragement and inspiration

Any leadership gig is tough and so we, as leaders, need constant and repeated encouragement and inspiration. I have found many of the books that I have read to be greatly encouraging and inspiring.  The Prodigal God by Tim Keller refreshed my soul as I saw both the presence of the older brother and the younger brother in my life and I saw the saving power of the gospel and my need for it again in such a powerful way. As a leader, reading biographies like Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby and Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton has been inspiring. To see men who triumph despite great odds and to see what God does through people like Luther inspires me to pray and to keep going in my pastoral journey! If you are discouraged grab a biography of a hero and let it inspire you!

There are three reasons I as a leader spends time reading. Tomorrow I will be looking at making time to read.

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