In the secular world, it is universally understood that in order to succeed in life, one must read. Entrepreneurs constantly talk about how those at the top of the financial ladder read at least one book a week. The more wisdom gleaned from others, the better one leads and succeeds.
I believe the same is true when it comes to having spiritual influence and impact as a follower of Jesus Christ. Granted, most of the early Christians couldn’t read. However, the ancients had enormous capacities to retain information. That’s how the words of Jesus and the apostles were accurately recorded decades after they were originally uttered. Paul of Tarsus, one of the most influential Christians who ever lived, not only could read, but he was well versed in the writings of others, even quoting them.
Fact: I’ve never met a person who was successful in the Lord’s work who wasn’t an avid reader.
The few exceptions were people who were also lopsided and untempered in their views. (By the way, listening to audio books, podcasts, and spoken messages counts as reading. But they still can’t trump a book.)
Here are five reasons why reading books will make you a more effective and influential Jesus-follower:
- The church has been with us for 2,000 years. God hasn’t just started shedding light on His Word in our generation. There is a gold mine of insight found in books written by His servants over thousands of years. So we can learn enormously from their experience, insight, and knowledge.
- The Lord has put teachers in His church from the beginning up until now. So it’s both foolish and unscriptural to think that any of us can tap into all the riches of Christ by ourselves. Consequently, the idea that says, “all I need to read is my Bible” is both sophomoric, and well, unbiblical.
- Reading makes you a better thinker. It sharpens your mind, cuts new grooves in your brain, and opens you up to new ideas, concepts, and perspectives. Not to mention it strengthens and broadens your vocabulary, making you a better communicator.
- Reading helps you understand the world better, including what motivates people. And a book about the Bible or the ancient world can throw tremendous light on your understanding of Scripture.
- Reading helps us to know the Lord better. I have in mind books written specifically by those who are (and were) ahead of us in the spiritual journey.
All of these reasons are why I read books and why I write them for others.
Keep in mind that the specific kinds of books one reads is a vital piece of the puzzle. A.W. Tozer bemoaned the fact that the popular books of his day were fluff. He wrote,
“I was browsing a used bookstore recently, looking over some of the books that are popular today. I must confess I have never bought a book because it was popular. Sometimes the popular book is the most shallow, at least in my experience … I blush today to think about the religious author that is now being handed out to our poor kids. I pray daily that the spirit of seriousness might fall upon the church once again to such an extent that we will have an insatiable appetite for not only the deep things of God, but for God Himself. When a person nourishes his soul on the high and lofty thoughts of God, he loses his appetite for the watered-down modern-day religion.”
If Tozer were living now, he’d be stunned to discover that the problem he described has been raised to the 50th power.
It is for this reason that I put together my 100 Best Christian Books Ever Written list (which was recently updated).
By the way, while I love books, I’m a very slow reader. Which is a personal (and annoying) shortcoming of mine. Nevertheless, I read daily.
All told, how about making 2017 a year where you read more than ever? Start out with some of the 100 Best Christian Books Ever Written.
Events for 2018
Some of you have graciously invited me to speak at your churches and conferences. Unfortunately, my 2017 schedule is full, but we are booking events for 2018. Consequently, if you have an interest in having me speak at your event, go to my Speaking page. I accept a small number of invitations each year. Contact information is on the speaking page.