I’m a big proponent of reading. I believe a good and well-timed book can change the very nature of who you are now and who you can be in the future. That’s if you let it, of course. I’m social proof of this very thing. It was Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad that I credit for changing the entire trajectory of my business career. It was the Bible that changed the course of my spiritual career.
Because I’m such a big believer in the transformational power of books, I actually have a book club at my office. I assign a book every 1-2 months and then reward the participants for writing and giving a report in front of the staff on the assigned book. No one is forced to do it, but if they do, not only do they get $100 for their efforts, I also pay for the book, which they can then add to their ever-growing library. Through this exercise, they enhance their knowledge about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Basically, I’m paying for a mini-education for each of them, each and every month. I do this because my hope is that this information will make them better people, and subsequently better at their job.
We can read for pleasure or for fact-finding and unlike times of old, almost anyone can get their hands on a book. From the very poor (libraries) to the very rich; from the layman to the very learned—everyone can consume books. Not only are books available to everyone, the way we can consume books has changed. We can buy a hard copy of a book, read it on a tablet, listen to it in the car, and, in some cases, see a cinematic rendition of it.
Although reading is important, what you read is equally important. Although the saying goes, “You are what you eat,”—I believe it’s just as fitting to replace “eat” with “read.” Because the choices are vast, we should be discriminating in what we pick up. In regards to our spiritual journey and our desire to lead others, we need to be even more judicious in what we read and how we use it.
Every summer we pick a book for our HTS reading club. All of those are great choices for the kinds of books that will inform and help you in your spiritual leadership journey. The Bible is, of course, an essential read and nothing can match it. But J. Oswald Sanders, in this summer’s book, Spiritual Leadership, also recommends that you don’t just choose easy books, nor the books that simply satisfy your own belief system. “This will require books that test wits, provide fresh ideas, challenge assumptions, and probe complexities.” Basically, you should read to grow.
How do you do this? Sanders has some suggestions to get the most from your reading. Use the following proven strategies to make your reading more worthwhile and profitable:
1. Use the same discrimination in choosing books as in choosing friends.
2. Don’t waste time reading books you intend to forget.
3. Read with a pencil and notebook in hand.
4. Record what is striking, interesting, and worthy of a second thought. In that way you will build a treasure trove of material for future use.
5. Verify historical, scientific, and other data. Don’t only be a student of what you read, but also an investigator.
6. Pass no word until its meaning is known. Keep a dictionary handy.
7. Vary your reading to keep your mind out of a rut.