I’ve heard it said many times that leaders are readers, although it’s not about reading for reading’s sake. It’s about constantly learning and growing as a leader. This should be the primary motivation so that we can better serve those we lead.
One of the primary ways we can better serve those we lead is through the habit of reading. I would love to sit down over coffee with one of my favorite pastors or someone else I admire. The reality is that may never happen; but, I can learn more from reading one of their books then I ever could from a coffee meeting. I have found that consistently reading allows me to have multiple mentors as I learn from leaders and pastors who are making a difference. Do you want to make a greater difference, grow, and stretch your thinking? Read more.
Here are five practices I’ve found that help me read more and may help you read more in 2018.
1. Turn off the distractions.
We have many things in today’s culture pulling for our time and attention. Rather than giving in to the tyranny of the urgent, pick a time of the day you will put the phone on silent or turn off the notifications on your computer. Take 15-30 minutes to read a book that stretches you. Instead of watching TV before bed, use the time to read for a few minutes. After your devotional time, take an extra few minutes in the morning to read a book before you jump in to your day. You could read twelve books this year if you built the simple habit of reading fifteen minutes a day.
2. Keep a book with you at all times.
Keep a book with you for the spare minutes in between appointments or while waiting at the doctor’s office. Take a book with you to the bathroom. Most of us could easily read a book a month if we took a book with us every time we went to the bathroom!
3. Develop new ways to read.
It’s easier than ever to find ways to read more. You can read a hard copy book. You can read on your Kindle or the Kindle app on your phone. If you don’t like to read, you can listen to books through Audible or another audiobook app. Shake it up. Try something new. See what works for you and stick with it for at least a month.
4. Read a variety of books.
Read books that stretch you in each area of your life. Here are some of the categories of books I read last year: relationships, pastoring, leadership, spiritual growth, finances, history, and sports. Mix it up. Reading different types of books keeps it fresh for you.
5. Make a reading list.
At the beginning of each year, I make a list of books that I would like to read—books that have been recommended to me or touch an area of my life I need to work on. Even if I never get through all of them, keeping a list helps keep me on track.
When you complete a book put the highlights that impacted you the most into a filing system like Evernote. You can then use it to search when you are preparing sermons on a specific topic that you read about. Taking time to reflect and write down the main highlights will also help you better digest what you read so you can apply it. Build the habit of reading great books and share what you learn with others. It will grow you and bless others.