July 18, 2011


I don't know about you, but when I was in school I hated to read. And when I say "school", I mean all 20 1/2 years of it! K-Seminary. But this crazy thing happened once I finished that part of my journey - once there was no one telling me what to read of that there would be a quiz over it next Thursday. I began to love reading. I started seeing all these windows opening to viewpoints and ideas that I hadn't thought of before. And sometimes I would even read things and think, "I know this already", which is good because it actually makes you feel a little bit smarter. And I'll take all of that I can get. While the 10 years or so after I stopped paying to be a "student" were filled with a newfound desire to read, the last 2 1/2 years of being a pastor has brought me to an even greater level of hunger to be challenged. And I've come to the realization that as a pastor and leader, I have a very simple but profound choice: READ...OR DIE!

Maybe death sounds a bit harsh or drastic to you. Maybe it would help to know that I'm not (necessarily) talking about physical death - like you're going to catch a horrible disease or get pummeled by a train. I'm talking about the death that sets in due to mental or spiritual apathy - the toxic numbness that can spread in and through leaders and pastors who stop being challenged to ask "Why" and who cease to press their creative imagination as to HOW they're reaching people for Christ and HOW they're leveraging the indescribable responsibility of communicating God's Word to those who are willing to listen. We must read or die! 

[And before I go further, please understand that everything said in this article is me living under the assumption that you're already disciplined and relishing every moment that's available to you to spend in God's Word. If not, don't read another word of this blog! Go spend time in the Word!]

I wanted to share with you a few books that I've read (or re-read) lately, a few that I consider to be a must-read for anyone in the position of pastoring or leading people, and even a few that you may not like at all. 

Lately I've been reading:

  • "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (Re-read) I don't know that I've ever read a more foundational mandate for and accurate description of Christian community as it should be. This book challenges me on many levels.
  • "The Unity Factor" by Larry Osborne. If you're a new pastor or church planter, you can't afford to miss this book. Larry shares so many retrospective insights into his first years of pastoring and how we can effectively develop and cultivate our leadership teams. (Anything he writes, read it!)
  • "Elders and Leaders" by Gene Getz. Only a chapter or two into this one. While I still consider Strauch's book "Biblical Eldership" to be the best (next to the Bible), so far this seems like it might be a pretty good compliment.
Some books that I believe EVERY pastor &/or Christian leader should read:
  • "Spiritual Leadership" by Oswald Sanders. My pastor (Dr. Gary Smith) recommended this book to me 12-13 years ago before I left for my first full-time ministry position. I've read it at least 3 times! It is such a pointed and deep insight into the character, integrity, and discipline of a Godly leader.
  • "Next Generation Leader" by Andy Stanley. Like I said with Larry Osborne, if Andy Stanley writes something, read it. (I would read his diary if he let me!) Number one lesson almost every pastor has to learn is "You can't do it all!" This book reminds us that we were never called to do it all. 
  • "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire" by Jim Cymbala. If you aren't living a life of prayer, everything else is void. Awesome book!
More books that have made incredible impressions on me:
  • "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan
  • "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper
  • "The Radical Cross" by A.W. Tozer
  • "Church Unique" by Will Mancini
  • "Visioneering" by Andy Stanley
  • "The Pursuit of Holiness" by Jerry Bridges
What books are you reading?
What would you recommend?

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