What was the last book you read? In our world where video screens are everywhere, reading has become a lost art. There is more that is being written than every before, but less of it is being read than ever before. But here is a secret – in a world of non-readers, reading will give you an advantage over your non-reading peers.
Leaders are readers and readers are leaders. It is hard to find an effective leader who is not a voracious reader. One of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt, shares that reading makes us better thinkers, improves our people skills, helps us master communication, helps us relax and keeps us young. I am sure there are many other benefits to reading as well.
As we think about spiritual disciplines, there is the discipline of the mind. It is about learning. And while books are not the only way to learn, I wanted to share some thoughts about disciplining yourself to read.
I am glad you are reading this blog. Blogs are good to read, but they do not replace books. What I write on the blog is short and to the point. It is incredibly hard to fully develop a point with just 700 words. A book pushes us towards what is described as “deep reading.” In a book, there are no links to click to take us other places on the web. There are no decisions to make. With less distraction we can immerse ourselves in the thoughts being presented.
Read Books that Offend You
Read books where you may disagree with the author. Read books from different religious viewpoints. If you have truth on your side, you should not be afraid. Read to understand the opposing point of view. Seek to understand why the person believes what they believe. It will put you in a better place to have a conversation with others who may share that belief and ultimately win them to the side of truth.
Diversify Your Reading
Fiction and non-fiction. New and classic. A few years back I made it a point not to read a single Christian book for the one year other than the Bible. I realized that my reading did not have much variety. So I made it a point to read books from other fields of study that I had not been engaging.
One of the things I needed to push myself towards was reading fiction. I thought of it as a waste of time. While I recognized reading fiction was enjoyable, I did not realize the full benefit. There are incredible benefits to reading fiction. For me, it helps with creative thinking. And more than that, it is an incredibly healthy alternative to television.
Read for Application
Another thing I have learned is to read for application. In the past, my goal was to read as many books as I could during the year. I pushed myself to accomplish the ambitious goals I had set for myself. What I found was that while I read many books, I was not able to apply as much of what I was reading. Recently, I have focused on reading fewer books, but being more intentional with what I do in response to what I read. If an author recommends a task, I will take the time to follow through. If I find a book to hold tremendous value, I will take the time to read it again.
Don’t Get Stuck
I know there were times when I get stuck reading. I get a few chapters into a book, and it seems to start dragging. I find it difficult to pick it back up. But because I am a type A personality, I feel I need to finish the book. Today I am going to give you permission to quit the book. I found it difficult to do at first. But as soon as I started to engage the new book, all those uneasy feelings melted away. If a book is not connecting with you, that is okay. Put the book on the shelf and move on to the next book.
You Have the Time
You might think you don’t have enough time to read. You actually have plenty of time to read. Imagine if you deleted the Facebook app off of your phone and replaced it with the Kindle app. How much extra time would that give you for reading? Instead of starting that new show to watch on television, start a new book. Audible is another great resource. I have long been a fan of audible and have used it while driving in the car, working out at the gym, or going for a run. I included an affiliate link, if you want to try it out with two free audiobooks. I recommend it because I know it has been a great benefit to me. The point in all of this is if you are intentional about it, you can find the time.
Questions for Refection
- Do you agree that leaders are readers and readers are leaders? Why or why not?
- What holds you back from reading more? How could these obstacles be overcome?
- What is a meaningful book you have read and that you would recommend to others?
- Share your comments.