A Tremendous Love Hate Relationship with Reading

You’re doing it now! Perhaps because you saw a link in Twitter or on the WordPress Dashboard, Facebook or maybe you’re a subscriber to this blog. But you’re doing it. You’re reading.

If you keep reading this post, I’m going to give a list of good reasons to come back and read other posts, articles, books, magazines and all. Not all of them will be on this website. Some you will be able to find out here, others will be recommended from someone else.

Is it fair to say, if you’ve read this far that you agree reading is a good thing to do? Whether for learning, leisure or lets see, what’s another “L” word … I don’t know, locating, something? I can still remember what Charles “Tremendous” Jones said when speaking in my College Chapel service in 1990, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for two things: the people you met and the books you read.” Reading books will influence the way you think and the way you live. Not all books are good books, but they will all influence you somehow.

Tim Challies recently posted a list of 4 reasons why Christian men need to be readers. Here are a few excerpts.

Read to Know
There are many people who are intimidated by reading theological works. However, we are well-served with entry-level and mid-range books. It doesn’t matter who you are, there is a book written at your level. One of the problems with allowing ourselves to be intimidated away from difficult books, books that are just a bit beyond us, is that we can begin to believe we’ve got God pretty much figured out. 

If you do not read, you deny yourself a great way to learn who God is and how he acts in this world. There is no study more satisfying and more enlarging than this.

Read to Grow
There are three kinds of growth I want to point you toward: Growth in areas of weakness, in areas of strength, and in areas of responsibility.

If you don’t know where you are weak, read a book on humility. Whatever your weakness, there is almost definitely a book that answers it specifically and well.

… push yourself to grow beyond the basic principles and move to advanced works.

Wherever your responsibilities are, find books that will allow you to fulfill them with greater skill and greater understanding of biblical principles.

Tip: Biographies can be very helpful in each of these areas. A biography of a great leader will allow you to be a better leader; a biography of a great leader who was a terrible father will teach you how to avoid succeeding in one area but failing in another.

Read to Lead
The unavoidable fact is that your convictions determine where you lead and how you lead. You will not lead opposite to your convictions and you won’t lead better than your convictions. Therefore, you need to continually define, develop and refine those convictions. Mohler says “When you find a leader, you have found a reader. The reason for this is simple—there is no substitute for effective reading when it comes to developing and maintaining the intelligence necessary to lead.”

Read to Love
While we tend to consider reading as a personal pursuit, it can also be a means of loving others. Here are three ways to love others by being a reader.

Read to understand. I have already said that we should read in order to know the Lord better, to grow in personal development, and to be a better leader. This kind of reading does not benefit you alone, but also those around you. That is all important, but there is a second kind of understanding I want to direct you to—understanding other people.

Read to recommend. You can love others by recommending books that will help them in their circumstances. This may involve reading books that will apply more to others than to yourself. Reading widely allows you to help people in very directed ways.

Read toward discipling. Even better than reading books for people is reading books with people. When you read books with others, you can let the author be the “Paul” and you and the people you read with can be “Timothys.” I learned to do this from men who took the time to read good books with me.

Reading is a pleasure worth learning to love and pursue, even if it requires some effort at first. However, whether it is pleasure or pain, commit yourself to read to know, read to grow, read to lead and read to love.

Still with me? Where do you start? One place could be the full Challies article above. Do an Amazon search on some of the books he mentioned. Pick one, buy it or borrow it and read it! Alternatively, you might like to read a bit more about reading itself. Check out a book called, “Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books” by Tony Reinke. It will help you think about how to read in a way that will meet the goals Challies listed as well as enable you to be more discerning in what you read to maximise your pleasure and benefit in so doing.

Whether you love it, hate it or hate loving it or love to hate it, you’ll be the same person in five years that you are today…