Reading is good for the soul
So I leave for Ethiopia tomorrow and I'm going to have a TON of time to kill on the plane ride there and back. Like enough time to empty my iPad's battery 5 times. So I thought to myself, what in the world am I going to do for 50 hours on a plane/stuck in airports?! Then I looked at the massive stack of books that I haven't gotten through yet...bingo!
I love reading, I always have. But as you all know life is busy and sometimes the thought of intellectually engaging with a book after a long day just doesn't sound like fun, so my 'I need to read this book' pile has grown and grown. Well no more! I plan on reading a TON while on this trip. In fact here are the books I plan on reading/finishing: 'Jesus Centered Youth Ministry' by Rick Lawrence (only 26 pgs left), 'Purpose Driven Youth Ministry' by Doug Fields ( a lot left), and 'The Great Omission' by Dallas Willard (also a lot left).
I believe every person in ministry, be it youth or not, needs to be engaged in reading. Blogs are great (especially this one...sorry, that was a shameless plug), magazines are cool, but books are where I believe the real meat of difficult and controversial topics can be debated, analyzed, discussed and illustrated the best. As leaders of God's flock we need to be aware of what other leaders are writing. This way we can answer the questions our flocks are asking and have an understanding of where Christian thought is heading.
I'm not saying or suggesting we need to read every book out there, but I am saying that as ministry leaders we need to be engaged with what other people are 'preaching' through their books. Look at the response Rob Bell's latest book received, or the hullabaloo over The Shack. If we are ignorant over such controversial books we cannot lead our flocks effectively through those sticky situations.
Also, I firmly believe we need to push our flocks to engage in reading, especially of the Christian classics. Books that were written over 20 years ago that are still relevant are that way for a reason. God spoke through the author in a way that connected with Christians then and now. These books are great resources for us today that can help us along the way and teach us about God, faith, love, forgiveness, trust, and service.
As leaders of ministries we have been given great responsibilities, but God has not left us out on the ledge by ourselves. He has given us many, many resources to help us along the way, books are just one of them. So let's engage our minds and our hearts by reading books that edify us and honor and glorify God.