A few years ago, I set a goal at the beginning of the year to read a book every month. How did I do? I don't remember but I think I ended up well short of my goal of twelve books. This year, I didn't set the same goal but so far I've almost completely read five books! (Go figure!) Today, I'd like to share what I've been reading and what I've taken away from those books.
Thou Shall Prosper, by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.
This book was recommended to me last fall by a friend and I started reading it earlier this year. The subtitle of the book is, "Ten Commandments for Making Money," and I found it enlightening about the business practices of Jewish entrepreneurs. My big takeaway from the book is the power of networking. He explains how Jewish businessmen build relationships in the community and that is a big reason for their success. A good book for everyone to read on great business practices.
Net Force: Hidden Agendas, by Tom Clancy
This was my first foray into the Net Force series and it was an interesting read. If you're familiar with Clancy's novels, this series is much different from his works that focus on Jack Ryan, and later Jack Jr. Still, I found the book prescient, especially with the hacking that went on during the presidential campaign last year. Though it was written in 1999, Clancy had a good understanding of the disruption that hackers could cause to national security and how vital it is to beat hackers at their own game. A fun read.
The Volunteer Revolution, by Bill Hybels
Hybels does an excellent job of explaining the power of volunteering and how everybody has a place in the Church. He shows not only the value of serving the local church but why it is so important that everyone uses his or her gifts. I plan on using this book as a reference as I help churches become healthy through consulting.
Choosing to Cheat, by Andy Stanley
By far, other than the Bible (read below), this book has had the greatest impact on my life this year. Like The Volunteer Revolution, I've had this book sitting on my bookshelf for several years, and I wish so much that I would have read it earlier. Stanley points out that you have to cheat somewhere: either work or home. He makes the compelling case that you are far wiser to cheat the office than home and talks about his own experience of limiting his time at church (he committed to work only forty-five hours a week in ministry!) I strongly encourage every pastor to read this book. It is definitely a must-read!
Leadership, by Rudolph (Rudy) W. Giuliani
Leadership is the fifth and final book that I have read this year, and I am almost finished with it. Rudy helps the reader understand the enormity of leading a large organization and the steps you must take to lead it with excellence. I discovered how he led the city of New York for eight years, turning around a dying city with high crime and a near-bankrupt economy into a thriving metropolis. He did this by implementing his plan for strong leadership, starting with surrounding himself with strong leaders and meeting with them every morning to both learn from them and give them direction. Every pastor can apply the lessons on leadership from this book to his or her ministry position. I have learned so much from it on how to lead well.
Last, but definitely not least, I've been reading the Bible this year. Over the past several years, I have read the Bible from cover to cover several times but I have not always done it the preferred way. For example, I have only read the Bible in a calendar year once. Instead, it often takes me at least fourteen months to read the entire Bible and sometimes much longer than that. Also, last year, I skipped Psalms and Proverbs and read them at the end of my Bible reading, just for a change of pace. I think I'll do the same thing this year. However you read it, I think there is great value in reading the entire Bible on a regular basis. I know a lot of people read only parts of the Bible, like the New Testament only or the New Testament and Proverbs. But the Bible was written and compiled to be a seamless story--from Genesis to Revelation. It's a love story of God's love for us and it is best understood from beginning to end. So, right now, I am reading through the book of Job on my way to Revelation.
That's what I've read so far. Pastor, what book are you reading? If you're not currently reading a book, I recommend picking up a copy of one of these on my list. I think it will be well worth your time.