ONElife Church is a reading culture. This means we are humble enough to learn from others and wise enough to know that there are a lot of things that we do not know. This is a fundamental core value of ours and anyone who desires to grow in their ability to influence others for Christ and as a leader at ONElife will first and foremost be a reader. As the old saying goes, “Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers.” At ONElife we are striving to grow in our leadership so that means we are readers.
A quote that impacted me tremendously when I first heard it about 13 years ago was, “The person who does not read is not better off than the person who cannot read.” This convicted me. In addition God blessed me with some godly mentors who loved to read and these two things were instrumental in my journey to becoming an avid reader.
Most people assume that I have always been a reader. They see my library and pile of books I usually have around and they just assume that things have always been this way. That could not be farther from the truth. Growing up I was your stereotypical jock. I consistently did just enough to be eligible for sports graduating High School with a booming 2.45 GPA. In addition I prided myself in two thing upon graduation. First, I prided myself in the fact that I completed my junior and senior year of High School without ever taking a single textbook or assignment home with me. Second, I prided myself in the fact that I graduated High School without ever reading a book cover to cover. I literally never did this.
This is the person that at the age of 19 has a radical transformation when I came to faith in Christ. God then placed me with a group of godly men and women who loved to read. So, naturally they began recommending books to me. I am so thankful that at that time God gave me the desire to begin reading. I was quickly blown away by how much you could learn from a book. Shocking... I know! My life has never been the same since then as I have consistently read at least 2-8 books per month.
This article is specifically about the importance of reading good books. Before I move on I must address a very important issue though. Books are never ever under any circumstance to be read in place of Bible reading. The Bible is always the first and most important book that we as Christians need to be reading on a daily basis. My wife has a great rule that she often shares with others and that is every time you reach for a book to read stop and go read your Bible first and then come back to the book. To stay consistent with your Bible reading I highly recommend following this Bible reading plan.
Why should we as Christians invest additional time in reading good books? Here are a few brief reasons:
How to Read
The desire to read is not going to all of the sudden make us readers. We need to form and shape new habits in our lives. Here are a few pointers that will help in developing the habit of reading.
First, beware of the readers enemies. There are three of them. The television, the computer, and the cell phone. Learn to shut them all off and go to a quiet place to read. My wife and I did not have a television in our home for the first three years of our marriage. To this date we do not have cable. I know myself and my tendency to just want to chill and watch the tube so I just cut it out of my life. These electronics will cry out for our attention and if we do not learn to cut them out we will never develop consistent reading habits.
Second, learn the power of 20 minutes. With just 20 minutes a day you can easily read through at least one book a month. Focus on putting a 20 minute time slot in your calendar every day. This may mean waking up 20 minutes earlier everyday. This may mean using your lunch breaks at work to read. This may mean not turning the television on at night to read. Learn the power of 20 minutes.
Third, engage in your book. Grab a pen and a highlighter and mark that book up like crazy. Books cost money not because of how they look, but because of the content found within them. Get the most out of it. Underline. Highlight. Write in the margins. Engage in the book.
What to Read
With so many books available it can be a daunting task figuring out what books to read. That is why we at ONElife are striving to have a systematic way for people to continually get good books in their hands. We have chosen to do this through our Men’s and Women’s Leadership. Each month at our meetings there will be a book available that has been hand selected by the leaders of the church that will be handed out and then discussed the following month. The books will vary addressing the topics of doctrine, discipline, and discipleship. This way we are all getting a balanced diet for optimum spiritual health. Be sure to enroll in our leadership development at ONElife. You can do that by clicking here. In addition I have book lists created for many different topics that you can think of. Be sure to reach out to me and I can send that list over.
Ready. Set. Go. Let the reading begin!
Contributor / Eric Stewart
Eric Stewart is the Lead Pastor of ONElife Church in Flint, MI.