If you’re like me, reading books is a struggle. Well let me qualify that. I actually like reading novels, and I love reading to my 5 year old son (Right now we are on a Junie B. Jones kick). It’s the books on leadership, ministry, and life that I have a hard time getting through. I ALWAYS rolled my eyes whenever I heard the term “Readers are leaders”, (or is it the other way around?) and I went to Elim Bible Institute, so I heard that a lot. I went through a long period of life rebelling from that very statement and not reading. I was determined to be the one leader who wasn’t a reader.
And the plain truth is, I did a lot of my work and ministry from the shallow well of my brain, my ideas, my concepts and my abilities. Let’s all be honest here and admit that it’s a very shallow well that we won’t get water out of for very long. So I decided to start reading. And it was a slow start. I would get through about 2-3 books a year. I never read everyday. I rarely made it through a whole book willingly. What I did read helped me though, so I knew it worked.
A while back, I realized that I was stuck in my leadership growth. If you’ve ever heard of the Leadership Lid mine was pretty low. I decided to do many things to increase my lid, but one of the things I did was to begin to read more than I ever have, and I have a system to reading that I think might work for you if you struggle in that area. Here are some things I did to help me.
The first thing I did was find good blogs from all different kinds of leaders. I subscribed to them and get them in my email. This helped to give me some quick reads with great content. It also helped me to discover what kind of people I wanted to read more from and what kind of writing was easiest for me to engage with. One person who I really like reading is Seth Godin. If you have any great blogs worth sharing, put the link in the comments.
I used to have a spot on my bookshelf where all the books would go that I wanted to read. I would read one book at a time from that space. If I hated the book I was reading, it took me forever to finish it. The one shelf quickly became 2 shelves and after a while I decided this wasn’t working. So I tried something new. I took 2 more books off the shelf. I picked the book I wanted to read most, even though it wasn’t next in the order (All of our OCD readers just had a heart attack). The other book I took from the shelf was a book that was small, or had short chapters.
I put them in a stack and read a chapter a day from one of the books. Whatever book I read that day goes at the bottom of the stack. Then I write something about the chapter I read in a notebook. What I write may be a few paragraphs or just a sentence. Sometimes it’s just a question that I’m pondering. Sometimes books will have questions at the end of the chapter, or throughout the book. I’ll answer those questions in the journal. I’m not sure I’ll ever go back through the journal, but if you read something and write it down you have a better chance at remembering it later.
Why 3 books? Why a chapter a day from each? Well, the reason I do it is simple. It helps me get through books quicker. If I don’t really like a certain book, but it came highly recommended (Like LQ Solution that I’m reading now) it helps to know that tomorrow I can read something I really enjoy (Like Deep & Wide). Then the 3rd day is kind of a break because I know the chapter is shorter and won’t take as much time. The short book I’m reading right now is a great book called Leadership Axioms. Check that out. It’s a book you could probably read everyday for the rest of your life and get something out of it.
Doing this method helps me not get stuck in a book. I look forward to reading more than I ever have because I know that even if I don’t absolutely love what I’m reading today, tomorrow will be more enjoyable. As well as reading three books at once, I also made a change in how and where I read.
See the chair in the picture? I got that chair for $25 at a local garage sale. I love sitting in that chair. In fact that’s the only chair in my office. I have a desk that I stand at. The only time I sit in that chair is when I’m reading. I reward myself when it’s time to read. I don’t always get an iced capp from Tim Hortons, but I do usually have a drink of some kind and some trail mix, my favorite snack. I make reading an event. I take things I enjoy (Sitting in a comfortable chair, snacks, etc.,) and combine them with something I don’t really enjoy. Maybe for you, it’s going to a local coffee shop, favorite chair at home or outside on your deck. The atmosphere will help a lot and make sure to make yourself comfortable and free from distractions.
The last thing I did that helped a lot was the time I read. The first thing I do when I get to the office is read. I used to schedule meetings for first thing in the morning, but now I give myself an hour to make sure I have enough time to read. We are all very busy and most people are task oriented. Who wants to stop a project when they’re 90% done with it to read? Read first. Get it done. Chances are, when you give your personal growth priority it will help all other things you work on later that day and week.
So if you’re struggling with reading, these are a few tips for you to try. But here is something you should understand about reading. It will deepen your well that you can draw from. You will grow from reading the right things. You will be better at what you do. It is the cheapest way to grow in leadership, capability and internal strength. If you really want to grow pick up a book. If you take my advice, pick up 3!
If you don’t struggle with reading, give some comments as to what works for you or some books that have really helped you.
Mike Wing is the Lead Pastor of Lockport Christian Church. His amazing wife’s name is Amber and he has 3 awesome boys. Abram is 5, and Eli & Jadon are twins that are almost 2. He’s had the privilege of living in Lockport, NY for almost 10 years and is really excited to see God bringing new businesses and buildings in the city and town where he lives. He has a huge passion to see community built within his church and believes the best thing about his church are the people in it, and seeing them grow in relationship with God and each other.
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