There is a significant difference between the way my wife shops at the grocery store and the way I shop at the grocery store.
I seem to wander into the grocery store with little to no agenda other than food. I recall aimlessly walking up and down every aisle looking for something that looks good and that I could afford. My palate and my wallet are the guiding forces of my visit.
My wife, on the other hand, is on a mission. Not only is she mindful of our budget, she also knows what we need to round out a healthy diet. Because of her carefulness, our health and our bank account are better off.
I would like to plead with you brothers/sisters to be more focused when you are looking for books.
Too many of us wander up and down the Publisher’s table with no real agenda other than what pleases our own palates and if we can afford it. The result: we load up our library with either junk food books or our diet is lopsided with too many resources on the same topic.
With today’s pastor being scrapped for both time and money, we must be very intentional about what we buy and read. With a well-rounded diet of substantive books, our personal health will be more improved and we will be better suited to lead and disciple others.
Allow me to share with you how I tackle this and apply where applicable:
- Create a List
Each year create a list of books that you commit to read. Place parentheses next to the books and describe what topics they are addressing. Then step back and see if there is a good amount of diversification in both topics and authors.
After completing the book, highlight and date each listing. This gives an added sense of accomplishment as well as documenting the things you’ve been thinking about through that year.
- Evaluate Places of Weakness
Don’t just pick up the latest book by the trendy or big name authors, think through places you are uncomfortable in speaking or places you suffer to live out. Research the authors that have addressed those topics well and purchase/borrow the books that are appropriate.
- Consider your current stock
Don’t build up a library to impress your visitors, make it functional. When you look at your current bookshelf ask yourself the question: “If I was to lead a session on the topic of _______, would I use those three books that I already have on _______?” If the answer is no to any of them, then get rid of the book. Look to have an adequate library of solid resources more than an “impressive” library with junk food.
- More/Newer Isn’t Always Better
Don’t buy a book at a conference/bookstore simply because its new or flashy. Time is the best indicator of the worth of a book. Look for those resources that are still in print after decades since publication. Also, be a good steward of your money and make certain you don’t already have a dependable book on that topic at home. This will have the added benefit of pushing you to read the books you already own.
- Ask Mentors About their Favorite Books
We look up to our mentors because we value their life and doctrine. Have you ever asked those same people who influenced them? You may be surprised to find that most of the authors that help shape them are on half.com for less than two bucks. Instead of taking cues from Crossway’s new releases ask that person you so highly value of some “old” releases.
Most of us are intentional to read, but few of us are intentional in our reading. Be more thoughtful to provide a well-rounded diet of the books you are digesting and you can be certain that your health and those you disciple will be better off.