I get asked a lot about reading. What I read? How I choose the books I do and how I find time to read. I thought I’d share a few tips.
I am always blown away when I meet pastors or business leaders who don’t read. If you aren’t reading, you aren’t growing. If you aren’t growing, you are not reaching your potential as a leader, human, Christian, husband, wife, father or mother. As a Christian, if you aren’t growing and learning, we often miss out on what God wants to do in our lives because reading and growing keeps us humble. Anytime you meet a leader who is doing great things, I bet they are a reader.
First, how to choose a book worth reading. Listen to people you trust. For me, if I hear from multiple blogs, tweets or friends about a book, I put it on my list. One thing I’ve learned is that who we read shapes us, so read authors you respect, leaders you want to become like. This doesn’t mean you should never read those you disagree with, but we’ll get to that. The choice of a book is crucial. Books get expensive and there is nothing worse than starting a book and realizing it isn’t worth finishing. If you are curious about what I’ve read recently, you can go here. I review every book I read as a way to help with this. If you start to read a book that isn’t worth finishing (typically, if I am not into a book by page 60 and feel like it is a waste of time, I stop reading it), put it down. Don’t waste your time. And don’t feel bad about not finishing it.
Second, always be reading. I have stacks of books in my office that I want to read. I have a stack on leadership, marriage and personal spiritual growth. Take a book and highlighter everywhere you go. Never go to a meeting or an appointment without one. We waste so much time waiting for people or getting into the dentist or doctor’s office. This is the perfect time to read. Studies show the average person can read at least 1 page a minute (without skimming). If you have to wait 10 minutes, you just read 10 pages.
Third, have a plan. This goes back to the stacks. Ask yourself, what do I want to grow in? What do I want to get better at? Is it health? Leadership? Marriage? Communication? Education? Right now, we are working on our budget for Revolution and I asked our staff members, “In 2011, what is one thing you want to grow in?” I do this to help them create a plan of growth for the year. If you don’t have a plan, you won’t know what to read. If you don’t have a goal, you won’t know if you reached it. Also, set a goal for how many books you want to read in a year. For 2010, my goal was to read 100 books and I am almost there.
What things help you get the most out of reading? How do you choose books? What book are you reading right now that is worth reading?