Thursday, April 27, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 14 – How the Ls Help Me LEARN (Read)

The next letter to cover regarding my Strategy is R for Read. For those that knew me well when I was young (e.g. my mother), to consider that I might one day be a reader would have been wasted time. I did not like to read as a teenager, and did not take the time to read in my early twenties. In my late twenties and early thirties I began to read more (especially when I began seminary), and now I have a hard time thinking what a life without books would mean. Thus, the inclusion of reading as a part of my Strategy is a no-brainer.

A Time for Clichés

Leaders are Readers

As a leader of a church, a teacher of seminary students, a trainer of pastors, and a student of life, I must read. I have been blessed to receive a good education and have many in my life that have supported me in many ways. However, the world changes fast and the amount of information I do not know far exceeds the small bit that I do know. The way to bridge the gap is to read. By reading, I not only learn, but I am then better prepared to equip others to follow God’s calling on their lives.

Read  for Information and  for Inspiration

While I enjoy reading many types of books, I have not found time to read much fiction for man years. That may happen again soon, but while finishing two degrees and reading (mostly) what was assigned, I am now focused on reading books that I wanted to read, but didn’t have the time. But different types of reading require different sources. In general, newspapers, magazines, and journals are great sources of information. Books are better for inspiration. Again, I realize it depends on what is being read, but, in a general sense, this statement is true. My current focus is on books, but I am (mostly) keeping up with the periodicals that come as well.

READ-eem the Time

Ephesians 5.16 challenges us to “make the best use of time” (ESV). The Greek literally means to “buy back the time” which is the same as saying “redeem.” Although I do not wish to misuse Scripture, one way I apply this verse to my life is to remind myself of this verse by the cliché above. When I read, I am buying back time that I might have spent doing something poorly. Consider, for instance, something related to church leadership. I can continue to do what I have been doing (and perhaps incorrectly) or I can change my approach because of something I have read which might save (or “buy-back”) time I might have lost later.

Intersecting Strategy and Steps

To truly apply this part of my Strategy the reading I do must be quality. Many quality resources will never be read by me, however, I must be selective so as not to waste my time either. Currently, I am focusing on certain types of books (with a goal of one book per week this year), but in future years, I plan to include many genres. The intersection this week is very straightforward, so I will add a little bonus at the end.

LEARN – I stated above that reading can be informational and inspirational. It can also be recreational. For me, I read to be informed and inspired, and the two need not be mutually exclusive.

LIVE – Being better informed allows me to know how to function better as a person (in a variety of roles), but also to know how my worldview impacts my living within the constructs of today’s society.

LOVE – Being inspired as I read, provides the courage I need to live according to my worldview, which includes loving others as I live.

LEAD – I have stated elsewhere that all Christians are leaders (I believe it was Oswald Sanders who wrote that) as we are to make disciples which requires leading. But apart from that idea, in a group, someone will lead. I do not have to be the leader, but I have to be ready to lead which requires knowing a few details like the who, the what, the when, the where, the why, and the how. Reading can prepare leaders to be ready to engage when the moment comes – or to make the moment when it is needed. Thus, leaders must be readers, and I have been called to lead.


Reading is critical to me. Again, that has not always been the case, but now it is a part of who I am. Of course, the book that should be on the top of my reading list is the Bible. However, many other good books exist and I want to share just a few here for anyone to consider for their reading list. If I could only take a handful of book with me if I moved, in addition to the Bible, these would be the books.

Books by Step:

  • Learn – Knowing God (JI Packer) – a theology book that is readable by anyone
  • Live – Good to Great in God’s Eyes (Chip Ingram) – personal discipleship
  • Live – Choose the Life (Bill Hull) – personal discipleship
  • Love – The Master Plan of Evangelism (Robert Coleman) – Jesus’ model for ministry
  • Love – Surprised by Hope (NT Wright) – living in light of the resurrection
  • Lead – Spiritual Leadership (Oswald Sanders) – Biblically-based leadership principles
  • Lead – Simple Church (Rainer and Geiger) – corporate discipleship
Honorable Mention:
What’s Best Next (Matthew Perman) – how to organize life for effectiveness

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 –
4L – Matthew 28.19 –
4L – Spiral –
4L – Vision –
4L – Mission –
4L – Strategy –
4L – Steps –
4L – Learn –
4L – Live –
4L – Love –
4L – Lead –
4L – BackUptheSpiral –
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) –
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) –
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) –

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