“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Zig Ziglar
Zig’s famous adage is often applied in the context of setting specific, realistic, and measurable goals. Despite what yesterday’s post may have led you to believe, although I’m no longer an aggressive “New Year’s resolution-setter,” I definitely strive to be an intentional annual goal-setter. To me, goals seem to be a bit more concrete than resolutions, at least in terms of year to year productivity. A stereo-typical resolution to “smile more” just seems kind of nebulous. Good luck with that. A goal on the other hand, like “read 36 books in 2014,” is something I can understand and work to attain. That happens to be one of my personal goals in 2014.
I head into each year with a goal of reading a solid number of books. Unfortunately, until this year I’ve never really assigned a realistic or attainable number to it. Most years my book reading goal isn’t measurable because I fail to get specific. If you were to ask me heading into 2011, 2012, or 2013 about my specific book goal for the year I would have probably just said, “I want to read a lot of books.” This lack of specificity has started to catch up with me in this area. The factors are many: more kids at home, faster pace in the work environment, developing ministry responsibility, a tighter schedule, etc. As I look back over the last 5 years, my book reading trends aren’t good, hence the need to get much more specific, measurable, and realistic in goal-setting. Here is what my annual book-reading totals look like going back 5 years:
I’m trending in the wrong direction. I want to make excuses. But instead, I think I’m going to set a detailed goal and lay out an action plan for how to attain it. As I set out that action plan, I need to figure out some of the factors that have impeded my book-reading in the last couple of years. Why am I trending south? In previous years, thinking back to 2009 when we only had 1 baby girl and I was serving as a youth pastor, the discretionary time was much easier to find in my schedule. Now, with 3 girls and much more complexity in the ministry role I inhabit, I have to have a more detailed plan. This year I am going to intentionally schedule specific reading time each week, make a list of books I want to get through, and read several texts along-side friends and co-workers who can hold me accountable. I am also going to vary the types of books I read, so that I don’t get bored or bogged down in one genre.
As I like to do year to year, here is the book list and a short description of my 2013 reading. It’s a little easier this year, because it was much shorter.
The Book of Revelation: Four Views edited by C. Marvin Pate
I read this book for a class I took at Western Seminary on the book of Revelation. I recommend it. Zondervan Publishing has produced several books in this series, which gathers scholars from different theological perspectives and gives them an opportunity to convince the reader on their angle on a subject. I’m currently reading Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper.
Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman
We read this book together as a staff early in 2013, along with a very good leadership book called Leadership and Self-Deception. You can reference the short book review I wrote on it back in April. I had already read Leadership and Self-Deception, so I can’t count it on my 2013 list.
Worship by the Book edited by D.A. Carson
I read this book along with our music pastor, Tyler Clarensau, in the early summer. Similar to a four views book, it was a compilation of different views on the subject of worship, written by authors (R. Kent Hughes and Timothy Keller among them) from different denominational traditions. This text helped us tremendously in our thoughts and dialogue on the subject of gathered worship. Highly recommended.
Community by Brad House
This was another book that we read together as leadership. Our entire staff, our elders, and many in leadership read through this text early summer, 2013. We have read a number of perspectives on small group ministry over the last few years at LifePoint, none of them more formative for our thinking than Community by Brad House.
The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
I love DeYoung. As a fellow Gordon-Conwell alum, I’ve followed his books for a number of years, and Hole in Our Holiness was one of my favorite. I wrote a review on it when I finished it this summer.
Preaching for God’s Glory by Alistair Begg
This little (60 page) book was an afternoon read that really challenged me. Click here for the review.
What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert
Early this fall I was doing a good amount of content-development for our new church website, and Gilbert’s book was one I referenced as I was writing on the content of the gospel. Produced by the great team at 9Marks ministries, this text was a sound introduction to the subject. You can find a fuller review here.
Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin
I try to mix in a few biographies every year, and Steve Martin’s autobiographical piece was one I picked up on a Kindle deal for 99 cents. It was an engaging read. It was as much about the art and science of comedy as it was about Martin’s life. I enjoyed it.
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
This was one that has been on my list for a few years now. It’s a classic in the area of finance. I learned a lot. If you want to grow your financial IQ with a readable and well-organized text, Kiyosaki’s work is solid.
Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
I just wrote a long review on this text a few weeks ago.
Money: God or Gift by Jamie Munson
I actually read this book yesterday, so it made the 2013 list by the skin of its teeth. I’ll be posting a review on it later this week. Stay tuned.
That was 2013 in the books. Hopefully a year from now I’ll be listing 36 books for you at 2thesource.