Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Are You Reading?

The kid’s school year is coming to a close. That means the local public library is promoting their summer reading plans for kids of all ages.

That begs the question; what about the big kid in the mirror? Seriously, what’s on your reading list for the summer months?

It’s a question that all leaders ought to ask—whether you lead a ministry, a small group, a family—or all of the above. Not in a guilt-inducing, burden-imparting sort of way, rather in a way that communicates the significance of this life-giving discipline.

A rhythm of reading is critical for every Christ follower. Reading can bring tears to our eyes. Reading can cause a lump to well up in our throat. Reading can humble us, or cause us to rise up and praise our Heavenly Father. Reading stirs the mind and the heart. Reading can stretch our thinking and introduce us to new ideas.

Whether you’re reading a popular Christian living title, a Theological treatise, or the latest New York Times bestseller—reading is one disciple that every leader ought to consider a priority.

Developing your discipline of reading will benefit two important people/groups:

1. You
The Apostle Paul exhorted Christ followers to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). How can our mind be renewed if we are not consistently exposing it to what’s gone before (history)? Or to what’s happening today (contemporary culture)?

In his book, Practicing Greatness, author Reggie McNeal writes of the importance of spiritual leaders being exposed to fresh insights and ideas. “They are curious. They want new vistas. They want new conversations…Seeking out new ideas can be as simple as reading in a new subject or a new author.”

Reading also solidifies what you already know to be true. It causes you to more deeply engage with the things you already believe. How? It causes you to better understand the foundations of what you believe, and to have a solid argument for the things you don’t.

2. Your small group members
When you develop a rhythm of reading, your day-to-day conversations and interactions with friends will have more spice.

Consider for a moment someone you know who’s an expert on a specific subject; classic cars, World War II history, apologetics, etc. It’s easy to enjoy a conversation with someone about their field of interest because they’ve read and read and read some more about their subject. They’re expertise on the subject matter is invigorating.

Is this true of you? Do you bring new insights, thoughts, stories to your conversations because you’ve immersed yourself into a good book? Those you lead will be richer because they’ll get to sip from the cup you give them—having drunk deeply from the well of Scripture, theology, history, etc. Your scholarship has a direct impact on those you do life with in community.

So make time this summer to grab a good book, a comfy chair, a cool beverage—and read!

Note: My summer reading list includes: Your Church is Too Safe by Mark Buchanan, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, Serving with Eyes Wide Open by David Livermore, and The Batboy by Mike Lupica (with my son).