How Do You “Read So Much”? – Part 2 (Timothy Raymond)
It’s sad, but many pastors hardly read at all. In the long-term, this spells disaster for a local church and for a pastor’s own soul. In this, part two of a three part miniseries, I give you, my brother-pastors, three additional recommendations for reading more and better in pastoral ministry. (For part one of this series, go here.)
Schedule Time Specifically to Read
With so many other things vying for your attention, you’ve got to fight to make time for those things which are truly important. If reading is in that category (and I believe it is), I’d encourage you to look at your schedule and set apart select hours specifically for reading. For me, that’s first thing in the morning, so three or four times a week I’ll read for the first hour of the workday. If an hour at a time is too much, maybe start with 15 or 20-minute blocks. Find what works best for you with your unique schedule, personality, and situation in life. But like other essential habits (e.g., prayer, meals with family, personal evangelism, etc.), if you don’t schedule time specifically to read, you’ll likely never get around to doing much of it.
Quit Lame Books Early
This point should be pretty obvious, but some of us think that once we’ve begun a book (especially if we’ve highlighted in it!), we must, by all means necessary, finish it to the very end. I use to behave this way, but have come to see that as foolish and immature. It was actually an expression of pride in my life, wanting to be able to boast about all the books I’d finished. We only have so many hours in our lifetimes and they need to be used wisely. So if you’re 50 or 75 pages into a book, haven’t gotten anything out of it yet, and not optimistic about its improvement, quit it and go read something better. Admittedly, this takes a bit of discernment to do, because sometimes books begin poorly but finish well. But oftentimes lame books are lame throughout and leave us feeling hoodwinked at the end.
Learn to Read Different Books in Different Contexts
This point is similar to my suggestion number 3 from last time, but what I’m getting at here is to come to understand when and where you can read certain types of books and then read accordingly. For example, I love reading technical biblical scholarship, but I simply do not have the brainpower to do so at 10:00 PM after a long day of work. So instead I’ll read a stimulating biography, or even some worthwhile fiction. Likewise, reading John Owen is tough while sitting in the dentist’s office, so instead I might read a book on preaching or local church ministry. The point is, experiment enough to learn when you can read what, and then go and do accordingly. For if you don’t do this, you’ll likely just end up watching TV at the end of the day.
Lord willing, next time I’ll conclude this miniseries by giving you my final three suggestions for increasing the quality and quantity of your reading.
Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.