I’m amazed at 47 years of age, I’m known to some of my friends & acquaintances, as an avid reader.
- Middle school Jeff would have never believed that could be a possibility.
- High school Jeff … Ditto.
- College Jeff … No chance (Although I was a master of Cliff Notes. May need to google.)
- Late 20s/early 30s Jeff … Nada.
Then something changed.
I began praying that God would give me a desire or love of reading. I prayed as earnestly for this as anything in my life.
Two facts have floored me over the years.
- 1 in 3 college graduates will ever pick up a book and finish it, post-graduation.
- Read 5 books on a subject and you will be in the 5% most knowledgeable (an expert if you will) on said topic.
We have all heard the expression “Leaders are readers.”
I find that to be a very true statement.
We strongly emphasize reading in the Gathering. Four things we do regularly support this statement.
- Our 20+ Locker Room (small) groups typically read a book (Life With A Capital L, Kingdom Man, Lead … For God’s Sake) that is relevant to the daily life of a man or book of the Bible.
- 2 annual monastery weekend retreats (monks.org)
- 3-4 retreats (1/2 day) since 2015, typically at Country Club of the North
- Young Guns read 8-10 books during a 10-month cycle of doing life together.
One of our board members has told me a couple times how he hated to read prior to Gathering involvement and now he enjoys it.
Others have said they wouldn’t read at all, if not for the Gathering.
Let’s look at six wins I’ve personally experienced and seen in others as they grow in intentionality and desire to read.
- A reader is more valuable to others. Whether it’s through richer dialogue, stretching your mind, thoughts or building relational equity, others are better for your time in a book.
- A reader grows in humility inevitably. You acknowledge you need to learn or grow in an area when you read about it. We often choose topics that are areas of struggle. We are open to meeting a weakness head-on.
- Readers are constantly learning. When people don’t read after college, it speaks to the thought of learning being a season of our life, not for our whole life. Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden has two great quotes here. “If I am through learning, I am through,” and adds “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
- Readers have a much easier time acquiring new interests, likes, tastes, hobbies. How many times have a tried a restaurant or food because I read about it in a blog, article, Facebook post. I serve a God who is never finished with us and gives new dreams, desires all the time. Reading is a way to put me in the flow of the good He wants to offer me.
- Readers naturally become more self-aware. The older I get and am around many sharp leaders, I find the cream of the crop understand who they are. Good and bad. Strong and weak. Dots are connected, plans come together oftentimes, and significant decisions are made because they are well-read. God regularly speaks through His word and the words of others. I see myself often through the mirrored lens of a book.
- Readers are great models. They model much of what’s listed above. When I see someone reading in public, I think of that person prioritizing growth, knowledge, rest, peace, etc. Stop and think of the initial thoughts of crossing paths with someone reading at a restaurant on their lunch break or with early morning coffee. Guarantee it’s a positive thought.
Now, let’s go grab a book!