Sound Advice

I have always been a reader. I am one of those annoying people who is constantly reading something – even the back of cereal boxes. I just have this hunger inside to learn, to be informed, to be growing in my knowledge and understanding in just about any field of study or endeavour. Did I mention that I am a reader?

I set aside time every day to read. A fresh cup of hot, strong coffee and a good book is my idea of a good time and time well spent. I carry a book with me – usually an actual physical book – everywhere I go as you never know when you might have five or ten minutes to read. I show up to appointments early just so I can squeeze in some time to read. I read early in the morning as well as late at night and any time I can in-between. Did I mention that I like to read?

I read widely. Of course, I read in my chosen field of work – books about the Bible, theology, church, church growth, discipleship, preaching, intersection of faith and culture … a wide variety of topics, authors, and faith camps. I read history. I love a good novel which I usually read during the summer and at Christmas. I devour biographies and autobiographies of people in all fields – politics, entertainment, the military, missions, the church, and sports. The latter in spite of the fact that I am not a fan of any sport nor do I watch any sport.

I prefer actual books but do have several e-book readers. After all, some books are out of print but available as e-books. Harder to make notes in, underline and highlight but still doable. 

If I am reading a book and can’t engage with it — it is either a book that can be read later (in the right season) and so I put it aside and it waits. Or, it can simply be a dud and needs to be tossed. I don’t want to simply spend time reading. And certainly do not want to waste my time reading a dud. I want to invest my reading time wisely. 

There is inside me a hunger to be learning and growing. If a day or two goes by without an opportunity to read I sense this frustration and hunger inside. I need to read. It is a driving force that motivates me to regain control of my time and schedule my reading back into my life. It needs to be a daily feeding. 

I mark my books up. I want to be able to enjoy my reading; and I do. But I also want to be able to “mine” information and ideas after I have finished reading the book. So, I highlight and underline. I use symbols in the margins indicating a quote I want to record, an idea I want to “borrow,” or a new idea that I need to think about and research further. If it is a new insight into the Bible it gets marked and then added to my electronic Bible program. So, I go through a book after I have finished reading it and pull out everything I have marked and file accordingly. 

Of course, I read my Bible usually for several hours a day. I read it ‘devotionally’ as part of my God-time each day. But I also spend 90 minutes or more studying the Word and marking up the bibles that I use in my studying. I read a wide variety of versions although I do have my favourite version which I fall back on when writing. 

I do not listen to audio books. Nothing against them. I just find my mind does not engage with them and so I come to a point where I am listening to chapter seven and don’t remember anything after chapter one. I simply don’t focus when listening to an audio book. Maybe I should try harder until it becomes a discipline because many of those I relate to in ministry do a lot of listening when driving and doing odd chores around the house. 

I am disappointed that many in the younger generation are not readers. It makes discipling and mentoring someone a tad bit more difficult because often there is a book that can help them in their journey and it simply is not read and thus the help is missed. Some in the younger generation will listen to a book and so I work to recommend books that are also available in audio format. 

I am a reader! And proud to be one. After I finished 10 years of university and three degrees I just continued on with my education by constantly being engaged in a book. And, it has been and is time well invested. 

So, some sound advice — become a reader and invest some time each day improving your understanding of the world and becoming a wiser person.