A mentor of mine in college shared this quote: “If you want to be a leader, you have to be a reader.” More and more I see the truth in that. There are lots of excuses for not reading. I don’t have time. I don’t enjoy reading. I’m a slow reader, not good at it. I’m not motivated to read. I don’t know what to read. Hopefully this can give you some motivation and resources to help you become a more avid reader.
When I talk about reading, it can be Christian or non-Christian, fiction or non-fiction. I think all genres have benefits. Fiction is good for me sometimes when I don’t want to read or have gotten out of the habit. It brings me into a good story I enjoy, so I want to read more. It’s a good starter for me. I am also sometimes encouraged as I see metaphors for Christ or symbolism in the stories that point me back to biblical truths.
Most of the books I read are Christian non-fiction. They seem to be the most spiritually beneficial for me. They have a variety of topics. Mostly they bring a perspective on the Bible, theology, and practical application that is new or a good reminder to me. There are so many people smarter than me or with a different perspective and it’s helpful to hear from them.
Another genre that I feel everyone should read is biographies. Stories about people who have made an impact in the world can be so encouraging. These are especially helpful when I feel like I’m alone in my circumstances. They also help with pride, because I may feel good when I compare myself to those around me, but not so much when I compare myself to a hero of the faith. They make me more content and willing to sacrifice for the gospel with a positive attitude.
This year I set a goal of how many books I wanted to read. It’s November and I’ve already met it! Setting a goal has helped keep me motivated and consistent in reading. Another thing that has really helped me is listening to audio books. Hoopla is a free app that is available through many libraries. It has lots of good Christian books that you can listen to for free. This helps me redeem my time in the car, cleaning, etc because I can listen even when I am busy.
How to find what books to read? Lots of churches have a recommended book list online. You can also ask a pastor or friend that you trust and know to be a reader. There are lots of book lists online, just be careful that you’re choosing books with good theology. You can have some pretty bad theological ideas and even heresy in books that are popular “Christian books.” Another way I like to find newer books is to look at online resources I know are good. For example, if I read a blog post that’s good, I can look for books by that author or that they recommend. If I listen to an audiobook, I look for books that are recommended based on that one or other authors that are like that author.
I do think the quote from above is true. If I want to lead, I need to read. I need to have new content flowing through my heart and challenging my mind. I need to have new ideas to talk about and process with others, to challenge them. Reading makes me grow and that is a big part of why I need it. I want to be a learner. And it takes a learner to be a teacher. So what book are you going to start today?