This year I set a goal to read 40 books.  For some that might seem like a lot, but relative to some I greatly respect, it is not that many.  Below are the books I have read so far this year, with a brief description of each.  You might want to pick one or two of them up.  Every month or two, I’ll update this list.

11. Stuck: Navigating the Transitions of Life and Leadership by Terry B. Walling – This is a great book for those going through transition in life.  Better yet, it would be a good read for anyone, because at some point you will go through a major transition, and this book would help you understand what is going on.

“Transitions occur in the lives of business people, vocational ministers, housewives, students, young and old, church and non-churched alike.  For Christ-followers, something more is occurring, beyond just a change in career direction or the need for new scenery.  God does some of his most important formation work during the transition times of his followers.” (3)

10. Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood by Dennis Rainey – I was able to have lunch with the author recently, and discovered we shared a passion for this message.  The book is clear, and reads much like a message that would be given on the topic.  It is well worth the time to read for dads.

“One of the tragedies of our day is that too many boys are growing up without the guidance of a father, or another man, to show them what it looks like to do away with that boyhood stuff.  As a result, they often move into adolescence and then adulthood looking like men but still speaking, reasoning, and behaving like boys.” (44)

9. Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by Jim Collins – I have read this book so many times, some have referred to it as my “second Bible.”  I think the author does such a good job challenging ministries and non-profits to operate with excellence.

“In the social sectors, the critical question is not ‘How much money do we make per dollar of invested capital?’ but ‘How effectively do we deliver on our mission and make a distinctive impact, relative to our resources?'” (5)

8. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch – This book was part of my required reading for a Global Leadership cohort I am in.  I opened it thinking it would be dry, but walked away from it with some really good nuggets.

“So in a way the Creator’s greatest gift to his creation is the gift of structure-not a structure which locks the world, let alone the Creator himself, into eternal mechanical repetition, but a structure which provides freedom. And those who are made in his image will also be both creators and rulers.” (Location 177)

7. Leadership an an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence by Crawford Loritts – I think Crawford did a really good job with this, big, broad topic of leadership.  The book was a good mixture of theory, philosophy and practical tools to help leaders be more effective.

“We need to stop making idols out of leaders and stop idolizing the position of leadership. We need to turn down the volume and put leadership in context. As followers of Christ, we should not parrot a culture that celebrates image, stature, and position, nor should we tout leadership as the pathway to recognition and fame.” (Location 267)

6. Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants by Douglas Wilson – This book is chalk full of good advice for raising sons.  I highly recommend it.

“Men who follow Jesus Christ, the dragon-slayer, must themselves become lesser dragon-slayers. And this is why it is absolutely essential for boys to play with wooden swords and plastic guns. Boys have a deep need to have something to defend, something to represent in battle.”

5. What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential by Robert Steven Kaplan – The author is a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School.  This book is highly practical, and is a fairly easy read.  He addresses what you would expect: time management, learning to ask the right questions, vision, delegation, etc.  I thought Chapter 7: Reaching Your Potential had some excellent points.

“One of the ongoing challenges of being an effective leader, over a sustained period of time, is to make the course corrections to your leadership style that are necessary to keep the organization on track and yet fit your personality and distinctive traits.” (201)

4. Autobiography of George Muller – As I expected, I walked away from this book challenged in my faith.  This book chronicled the life of George Muller, and how he lived each and every day through faith in God.  He led ministries by faith, made decisions by faith. I had to stop and pray that God would increase the mustard seed size of my faith.  I didn’t really care for the style of this book, though.  It was just a compilation of journal entries that became somewhat repetitive.  He didn’t have, then he prayed, and God provided.

“If the preacher strives to speak according to the rules of this world, he may please many, particularly those who have a literary taste. But he is less likely to become an instrument in the hands of God for the conversion of sinners or for the building up of the saints. Neither eloquence nor depth of thought makes a truly great preacher. Only a life of prayer and meditation will render him a vessel ready for the Master’s use and fit to be employed in the conversion of sinners and in the edification of the saints.” (Location 248)

3. Leading from the Second Chair: Serving Your Church, Fulfilling Your Role, and Realizing Your Dreams by Mike Bonem & Roger Patterson – This was my second time to go through this book.  This time I didn’t just read it, but studied it.  Then, I was able to meet weekly with one of the authors, Mike Bonem.  Each week, Mike asked me questions that allowed me to sharpen my focus as a leader.  This book has sound some wisdom for both first and second chair leaders.

“Do you want true second chair leaders in your organization? Encourage them to be leaders.  Clarify your role and theirs.  Give them the freedom to lead, to take initiative, and to make some mistakes.”  (65)

2. Mentoring Leaders: Wisdom for Developing Character, Calling, and Competency by Carson Pue – Carson Pue, the founder of Arrow Leadership wrote this book about six years ago.  He offers a good, systematic approach to leading, as well as personal advice to leaders.

“As I have worked alongside leaders for more than twenty-five years, the most effective ones have never lost sight of their core passion. Even the most prominent leaders will tell you, in a simple sentence, the focus of their personal mission. It never includes technology. All of these other new opportunities are by-products that bleed out of their primary focus. Ministry leads. Technology and opportunity follow.” (Location 496)

1. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas – Lengthy, but good biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  A good read to be inspired of what having a spiritual backbone looks like in turbulent times.

“He differentiated between Christianity as a religion like all others – which attempt but fail to make an ethical way for man to climb to heaven of his own accord – and following Christ, who demands everything, including our very lives.” (84)

What books would you recommend for some to read?

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