I’m a reader. Period. I always have 3 – 5 books going at a time. Everything from sermon prep, leadership, parenting, marriage, church history, spirituality, novels and anything else I’m interested in. I learned a long time ago that leaders are readers, they should read a wide variety of topics and they should read from people they agree and disagree with.
In case you are curious, and you are because you are still reading, here are my top 10 favorite books of 2009 (my favorite at the top):
Leading on Empty (Wayne Cordeiro). This is a book is a must read every leader, every board member, pastor, spouse of a pastor or leader needs to read. Too many leaders are burning out and not finishing well. This book really caused Katie and I to evaluate our pace, health and how we can sustain ourselves to make it the long haul in ministry.
Water from a Deep Well (Gerald Sittser). Much like Miller’s book, this one grabbed me. I had to read this for school and honestly was not excited by it. It was easily the best book I read for that class.
Primal (Mark Batterson). I’ve always liked what Mark Batterson writes. Ever since I met him back in 2004, he has challenged me as a leader and in my own spiritual journey. Mark breaks down the great commandment, how that applies to our lives and how it might be the key to not only having a more fulfilling relationship with God but also the best way to reach our culture.
Surprised by Hope (N.T. Wright). This is a great look at what the beliefs have been about heaven, hell and the afterlife throughout church history; comparing that with what people believe now and how the church should respond and how that affects our mission.
Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell). I don’t read Gladwell to make a lot of changes in my leadership, although that happens. He is the type of author read to learn something interesting. This book does not disappoint. It is a fascinating look at success and what it does and does not take to be successful.
Money, Possessions & Eternity (Randy Alcorn). This book messed with my mind in the area of money and stuff. I read it for our series How to be Rich and it is by far the most thorough book on the subject. I was convicted on just about every page.
Just finished Primal by Mark Batterson. Easily his best book to date. I have known Mark since we lived in Baltimore and his writing has always been a challenge and an encouragement to me. This one did not disappoint.
In this book, Mark explores the great commandment. He is right on when he says,
“The great commandment is the lost soul of Christianity. If Jesus said that loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the most important commandment, then doesn’t it logically follow that we ought to spend an inordinate amount of our time and energy trying to understand it and obey it? We can’t afford to be merely good at the Great Comandment. We’ve got to be great at the Great Commandment.”
The problem for churches and Christians in general is that we do very poorly at the great commandment. This bleeds over into every aspect of our lives. If we love God as we should, with our whole selves, it will impact everything else in our life.
What Mark does, is he breaks down the great commandment. What does it look like to love God with our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength. Too many Christians just work on 1 or 2 of these aspects and leave the other ones to the side. This leads to followers of Jesus that are missing something and ultimately, poor examples of Jesus to our culture and people “who tried Jesus but it didn’t take.”
What I appreciated most about this book is that you could hand this book to someone exploring Christianity, a brand new Christian or someone who has been following Jesus for 30 years and they would be equally impacted by it.
“Thinking about eternity helps us retrieve [perspective]. I’m reminded of this every year when I figure my taxes. During the year, I rejoice at the paychecks and extra income, and sometimes I flinch when I write out the tith and offering. I do my best to be a joyful giver, but I confess it is not always easy, especially when there are other perceived needs and wants. At the end of the year, however, all of that changes. As I’m figuring my tax liability, I wince at every source of income and rejoice with every tithe and offering check – more income means more tax, but every offering and tithe means less tax. Everything is turned upside down, and perhaps, more appropriately, right side up. I suspect judgment day will be like that.” – Gary Thomas, “Wise Christians Clip Obituaries”