I have a passion for learning. One of my core values is that Leaders are Learners and so I make sure that my daily actions are in line with this belief. Learning is a discipline and is strengthened through daily exercise.
We live in an day and age where each day offers you a new opportunity to grow in your calling. You can read a book, attend a conference, Skype with a mentor, or listen to a podcast. The possibilities are endless. All you have to do is make the choice to develop yourself, create a plan and stick with it.
My go-to form of development is Reading. Some may look at reading as merely a hobby. However, the truth is that while I love reading it is much more than a hobby for me. It is a necessity.
If I want to learn… I read.
If I need inspiration… I read.
If I need to understand the complexities of life… I read.
If I am hungry… I eat. (As amazing as reading is it can’t do everything.)
This year, I will read somewhere around 50 books.
I’m not chasing a number. I’m chasing wisdom.
I’m not after a trophy. I’m after knowledge.
Reading is essential for growth, development, inspiration, and focus. It is true in my life and it should be true in yours. As I’ve said before, you may believe that you do not have the time to read but the truth is you don’t time NOT to read. It is that important to your development as a leader. Growing organizations are led by growing leaders. If you aren’t growing… you’re dying.
I have had friends ask me how I read so much. Today’s post will give you a little insight into how I make the most of life-long learning through my reading.
I want share with you 3 simple ways to help you make reading an essential part of your life…
1) Choose the RIGHT BOOKS to read
There will be over 1 million new books published this year. You can’t possibly begin to try and read everything so the first step in making reading a essential part of your life is to read only the books that will have a direct impact on your leadership. I look for books in 3 categories:
As a pastor, I read books on theology in order to help me better understand God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Primarily this understanding comes directly through the Bible, God’s Word. I also read theologians like NT Wright, Walter Brueggemann, Miroslav Wolf, and Timothy Keller. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimension.” I want my mind stretched by the things of God so that I will be forever changed.
I read theology so that I can understand God. I read philosophy so I can understand man. I may read a book on Psychology and then read a biography/autobiography. I might read up on a particular time in history and then I might follow that up with reading a work of literature. Reading philosophy isn’t about reading Freud or Socrates. The whole point of reading books in this category is to understand how others think and what they believe about life and how it should be lived. Reading about competing world views and philosophies doesn’t make them all equal and valid. Understanding them though will aid in helping to connect them to Jesus Christ and his will for their lives.
c) Best Practices
Best Practices are the types of books that will help me in a practical areas of life and ministry. Books on leadership, small groups, marriage, and administration help me gain insight and develop skills that I need to succeed. I am currently in a season where I am devouring everything I can on communication so that I can develop my teaching and speaking skills.
Exit Question: What are the categories of books you need to read in order to grow and develop your area of leadership? Choose 3 categories right now.
2) Take NOTES on what you read
If you want to get the most from your reading you must take notes on what you are learning. I have two ways that I take notes on what I’m reading. First, I never go anywhere without my Rickshaw Moleskine Folio. When I’m reading I try and distill any thoughts or ideas down to one sentance. I also write out any quotes that strike me as important. I primarily use my moleskin to take notes if I am reading from my Kindle. If I have a physical copy of the book I write my notes inside the front cover and the quotes on the inside of the back cover. Find a way to take notes that matches your personality and learning style.
(This a picture of my Rickshaw Moleskine Folio. I actually own more than one of these. The folio allows me to carry my notes, pens, and anything else I might need when I’m reading and writing. You can see the reflection of my Starbucks Gold Card there in the front. I love this product.)
3) TELL someone what you are reading
Telling someone about what you are reading will do 2 things for you. First, you will begin to understand and clarify for yourself what you’re learning. Teaching others is a great way to learn. Second, you will find that as you share with others your excitement and confidence will grow. You will begin to feel and see the fruit of all your hard work. This will in turn encourage you to keep reading. You will see, feel, and know that your learning is having a tangible impact on you and those around you!
When leaders stop learning they ultimately stop leading. Don’t let this be true of your life. Right now commit to growing in your leadership through reading. Over the weekend, choose a book that will help you in your calling, decide on a method for keeping track on what you’re learning, and tell a close friend about the book you’ve chosen. Then…
Get reading so you can get leading!