I was bogged down in the work of ministry. At the same time, I knew I needed to read more. Leaders are readers. We need to read in order to gain the perspective of others so we can make good decisions. We also need to read from multiple perspectives, weigh the pros and cons of each argument, and come to our own conclusions. I once heard it said that an expert is someone who has read 30 books on a topic. That is easy when you are mastering a single field like graphic design. But there are so many skills you need to master in ministry. You have to be an expert in topics like theology, sermon craft, small groups, pastoral skills, spiritual warfare, time management, marketing, team meetings—just to name a few. Developing these skills takes lots of time, and time is something we don’t have. Leaders can’t be full-time readers. We have to be leading. How can we can read more books and spend less time reading? Make a list of books you want, and then…
Google a Book’s Title and Summary
Most of us read to find nuggets. The summary has the nuggets without the fluff. The reason they are called “Executive Summaries” is that the smartest business leaders in the world need to get information fast, without spending hours reading. If you want to be a leader in your field, put down the book and open your browser. Start with the free stuff because bloggers who are experts in their fields often summarize when they run out of stuff to write. Also, Google the book’s title and quotes for more nuggets. If you can’t find a book you want, then check the pay sites:
Some tend to have more business books and will help you catch up with your board members’ business minds.
Is it worth it?
If you have to pay, is a $20 summary worth as much as a $20 book? Absolutely. These things take 20–30 minutes to read. That means you can read and get the information from ten books during a five-hour flight.
Will I miss out on the ideas summarized?
No, the summaries are often clearer than the books. However, it’s a tradeoff. You might miss two or three good ideas per book. They will probably appear in another summary you will read anyway. Also, you will miss out on reading the 20 books required to find the one that changes the game for you. When you find it, then you can buy the book.
Are you just someone who doesn’t want to read?
No. Here is a picture of all the books that I read cover to cover while I was deployed for a year in 2004 to the border of Kuwait and Iraq.
Think about it
Imagine what would happen if you read two or three book summaries before you started your prep. Some could be classic and some new. Where would you be? What would happen if you read the summaries of those who took opposing views? You would be better prepared to respond to resistance in your audience, or you might grow and change your opinion and your doctrine would become more solid.
Imagine, if you made a commitment to read three summaries a week for the next year. Where would you be in a year? You would become an expert in a field every six months. That’s 150 main ideas of books that you have read in less than one-and-a-half hours a week. Where would you be in five years? What about ten? What would happen if you taught your team to do this? Where would your children’s minister be if he read one summary per week? What would happen if you didn’t do this? Where would you suffer most? What would it cost in bad decisions made? What effect would this have on the eternity of others?
Don’t be haphazard
Make a list of the topics in which you want to grow. Prioritize them and start plugging away at number one on the list. If you try to do this haphazardly, you’ll stop it in a few months. I dare you to read a summary right now. Post your favorite book summaries below, tell us why, and list any summary sites we should check out.