Read Less For More

Recently, my old boss and still current mentor Don Graffam gave me some notes I had given up regarding goals I was setting for 2011. On the sheet, it said: “Read less books and spend more time with God reading scripture, praying, and meditating.”

Last year, with my current boss Ray Zaffke, one of my personal goals was to “Read less books and spend more time with God.”

In other words, I’ve felt the need to create the same goal two years in a row because I haven’t done it, specifically the reading books side. On the positive side, I’ve vastly improved the amount of time I spend listening to God and reading scripture, but I haven’t decreased the amount of books I’ve read.

Guess what? I’m going to make it a goal again! 

But this year, I’m serious about it. For too long, I’ve known the amount of books I’ve read (100-120 a year) isn’t the best for my personal development. There comes a point when too much is too much, and it’s not effectively doing what books are supposed to do: To help people grow, change,  learn, and be challenged and inspired. 

So, this year, I’m going to READ LESS FOR MORE. Here’s the plan.

* I’m going to read 4-5 books a month (Not including the books I read to reference for messages and speaking).
* I will typically read one ministry book, one spiritual growth book, one leadership book, and one to two random books (fiction or non-fiction).
* I’m going to write a review of every book I read on this blog, to help me slow down and reflect on what I’ve read.
* I’m going to choose the books at the beginning of the month and let you know which ones I’m going to read.

And during it all, I’m going to read through the bible in a year using this bible reading plan.

By doing this, I hope to reflect, savor, and chew on the words of the books I’m reading more. In other words, I want to read less for more impact, more change, more inspiration, and more growth.

So, for the month of January, here the five books:

giveandtake-cover1. Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant

Inn Secret

2. Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret by Larry Osborne

The-Naked-Gospel

3. The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley

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4. Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson

Gilead-Photo-1

5. GIlead by Marilynne Robinson

What are you planning to read this month? 

In Search of Deep Faith

in search of deep faith

The tagline says it all: A pilgrimage into the beauty, goodness, and heart of Christianity.

I finished In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher on New Year’s Eve, when the disappointments, frustrations, and celebrations of a year fades, and the turning brings a refreshed hope and energy. This book was a perfect read for this transition into 2014.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly experience moments (that occasionally turn into seasons) of frustration, loneliness, and shallowness. During these times, my faith in Christ feels weak, shallow, and like I’m living on an island while everyone else is laughing at me.

There are plenty of reasons for why this might happen, but what I loved about this book is that Belcher names this struggle in all of us, in our search for a deep and meaningful faith. Throughout the book, he reminds Christians of their need to rediscover our roots, understand that life is a journey, and passionately embrace our destination.

Roots.
Journey.
Destination.

Where we’ve come from.
Where and how we are going.
What’s the end of the story and journey.

The book is a travel memoir as Belcher recounts the year long adventure he took with his family into Europe and England. Each chapter combines a deeper look into a historical figure such as Vincent Van Gogh, Maria Von Trapp, or William Wilberforce with the lessons their family were learning along the way.

Throughout the book, we discover, along with Belcher and his family, the pilgrimage into the beauty, the goodness, and the heart of Christianity. We discover the importance of our roots and where others have gone before us. We understand the value of knowing and embracing the journey, the reality that we won’t ever arrive. And we find just how invaluable it is to know where our final destination lies and the hope of life with an eschatological vision of the future.

And, as a bonus for youth pastors or those involved in student’s lives in ministry, he uses Christian Smith and Melissa Denton’s paradigm-changing book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, as a conversation partner throughout.

In their book, Smith and Denton reveal the results of a massive study of the religious lives of American teens, the National Study of Youth and Religion, which basically concludes students have come to believe in a Moralistic, Therapeutic, Deistic God. God basically wants us to be good and happy and He’s there when we need him, or so the study shows teenagers generally believe.

So Belcher uses each chapter to assess why it’s so important for Christians to understand the reality of the historical figure he is teaching his family about and what we can learn that will combat the conclusions of the survey.

This was a book I give 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend.