Learn to Read
So I don't mean that in the literal sense, like you need to pick up a copy of Green Eggs and Ham and start learning the basics. I mean this from the Harry Truman sense. And, in case you haven't heard this before, Harry Truman once said, "Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers."
"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers." - Harry Truman
Over the years, I've come to appreciate the wisdom of these words...but that wasn't always the case. For most of my life I was an occasional reader at best. What does that mean? Well, it means that I would read a book when it was assigned as part of a class. Or I would run across some book that momentarily piqued my interest, so I'd read through it over the course of a few days and then take a long break before picking up another book.
But I never really got into reading.
And I think there have been a few reasons why I never really got into reading. First, from the time I started Kindergarten until I graduated seminary (roughly 22 years in all) reading felt like something you had to do. And, of course, as the reading requirements for every class I enrolled in continue to grow that meant there was less and less time to find books that would dispel this way of thinking.
I've also always thought of myself as a slow and intentional reader. So unlike some people who say they read entire books by only hitting the first and last sentence in a paragraph, I read every word on the page. And that takes awhile.
Through the use of some different reading apps, I've found that I typically read about one page per minute when I'm reading something that's not too mentally demanding -- like most fiction books. But when I'm reading something that takes more thought -- like pretty well anything related to ministry -- it can take me almost twice as long to make it through a single page.
And a final reason why I never really got into reading is that for years after I became a full-time minister, I never really read anything outside of my field. So I'd read something about theology, or church growth, or preaching...but after awhile a lot of those books start looking the same and they start blending together. And when that happens, you aren't really motivated to keep reading.
But all of this started to change within the last three years. Three years ago my church entered into a season that no seminary class could've ever prepared me for. And that also meant that there was no one place to turn to for wisdom on leading through this season.
So I figured out I had to turn to a lot of different sources. I turned to other pastors and theologians. I turned to church planters and experts on church growth. I turned to business professional and marketing gurus. I turned to historian and biographers. And when all of that left me with a giant headache, I turned to JK Rowling and Lee Child to take my mind off of it all.
And along the way I learned to love reading. In 2019, I read 53 books, covering over 17,000 pages. And I try to work through something that will help me be a minister every month. And going forward, I'll share my thoughts on those books here on this blog.
But all of this reading has taught me how important it is to read if you want to be the best minister you can be. Reading will open your mind up to a world filled with other people's ideas, experiences, and wisdom. And, as you wrestle with these ideas, experiences, and wisdom; you'll grow too. You'll learn things that can completely change your approach to ministry.
But if you never crack open a book, or you only read when something catches your eye it won't be enough.
If you want to lead well, you have to read well.
If you want to lead well, you have to read well. So let me encourage you to find the time in your life to read.