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June 4, 2015 Comments Off on On the Importance of Reading Views: 1204 Practical Living

On the Importance of Reading

Reading is not my thing. I’m to ADD to read. Reading is boring. These or similar phrases are statements I hear often. It makes me wonder if people just haven’t been taught why the discipline of reading is really important. Let me offer some thoughts to chew on:

First, God in His infinite wisdom had at His disposal limitless options, yet chose 66 books of varying genres and lengths as the medium of special revelation of Himself to us. Psalm 19:10 says the words of this book are more valuable than gold. Matthew 5:17 says Jesus came to fulfill the content of this big book. Ephesians 1:13 says the Author of this book literally moved into you when you were saved and through His book will lead you and guide you into God’s design for life. Translation: God wants you to be a reader who voraciously consumes these 66 books, over and over and over. So, I’m not sure what someone intends to say when they say, “reading is not my thing” or “I’m to ADD to read,” but if they mean they don’t want to learn the discipline of reading, they are at least making a statement about God’s big plan. If you want to get to know God, you have to learn to love reading.

Switching gears…reading a book is a one-on-one meeting with an expert on a subject who is willing to repeat anything you want repeated and will talk to you at the rate at which you want to listen. Ted Tripp is an expert on parenting according to God’s design. People take time off work, travel out of town, pay for hotel rooms, meals, and conference registration fees just to sit on uncomfortable chairs in a group of 100s of people to listen to Dr. Tripp talk about parenting. What if I told you that for $15, you could have a one-on-one with Dr. Tripp in the privacy of your living room? He will talk to you as slowly as you need him to and repeat anything you need repeated. After he has finished his presentation to you, he will remain available to you at your beck and call for years to come. All for that same one time, $15! That is what a book is; a “one-on-one” with an expert who will teach you at your rate of learning. So, again, I’m not sure what someone intends to say when they say, “I don’t really read,” but they are at least making a statement about the potential of their personal growth and discipleship.

On another note, consider there might be more aspects to reading than you think and that to ignore at least one of them actually hurts you. There are at least two categories for reading: “fun” and “growth.” In the category of “fun,” I’m talking about fiction from the likes of Vince Flynn or Louis L’Amour. In the category of “growth,” I’m talking about books that deepen your understanding of God’s teachings and broaden your understanding of God’s activity in the world. I’m saying that “fun” reading is optional, “growth” reading is essential. “Fun” reading is indeed a hobby and is merely equivalent to running or coffee or playing XBox. But, “growth” reading feeds the soul. If you see the distinction between “fun” reading and “growth” reading, then you can see how it is perfectly acceptable to hate reading as a hobby, but it is really advisable to develop a reading habit for growth purposes. I’m suggesting to you a more mature perspective of reading–to use the Apostle Paul’s terminology, it is “childish” to give greater weight in decision making to “is it fun?” than to “what is best?”. Learning the discipline of reading for growth purposes might not be fun, but it is very, very good for you. I’m not sure what someone intends to say when they say, “I don’t really read,” but I hear possible hints of a void of true hunger to grow in the Lord.

Here are some tips to get you started in reading for personal growth:

Start small in book size and goals. Get a relatively small book of 120 pages or less that you know you can crush and get an early win; this will build confidence. Don’t go find a book with 580 pages. Also, set a realistic reading goal of “one chapter per night” rather than “I’m going to read this book by Thursday.”

Select books based on recommendations from trusted sources. Do not select books based on reader reviews on a book store’s website or just because it’s cheap.

If you found a book that someone recommended to you was indeed personally beneficial, keep going back to that person for further recommendations. Another source of future good books for me is the good books I’ve read. Often, authors reference other books in their book. I find many of my books that way. In fact, the book I’m reading right now was recommended in a book I read which was also recommended in another book I read.

Read a book with another church member. I don’t mean together, out loud in your living room. I mean each read it alone and then meet at Starbucks or over lunch three or four times to discuss what you read and what it means for you. This will provide not only accountability to read, but will help maximize the impact of the book on your life.

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