This year I was really blessed to get into some great books! Honestly, I wouldn’t say I read super widely. Usually, my reading comes down to a lot of leadership, some history, a little fiction, and a tiny bit of Christian living. Of course, none of this accounts for the time I am spending in sermon research that is heavy in theology. So, for this year, I looked back and wanted to share some of my favorite and most helpful books I was able to get into. Here are the books, along with one or two of the most helpful things I got from them.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
I was really late to the game on this book. I’d heard it referenced for a long time but finally picked it up this year. Two things really stand out to me and made it into my day-to-day vernacular. First is the concept of P and PC balance. Simply put, it’s possible to push so hard for the product that we allow what produces it to suffer and even break. Think of the proverbial golden goose. If we get so obsessed with the golden eggs that we forget to feed the goose, then production will inevitably cease. I also love the phrase, “there is space between stimulus and response.” We often feel as though our reactions are caused by circumstances. The truth is that we can choose our reaction in any circumstance.
Who Not How, Dan Sullivan
This book really made me evaluate a negative aspect of my own leadership. When faced with either a problem or an opportunity, I almost always think in terms of “how” instead of “who.” The book’s basic concept is that leveling up in leadership is learning to find the right people and developing them rather than developing the best strategies and systems. I think most leaders have had the experience of continually putting together plans only to have them not succeed. Then, on the other hand, they have had the experience of seeing someone well suited for a particular job crush that job without even being handed much of a plan. This book really tries to explain both scenarios. Everyone is talented in some way. Most people can thrive if given the right environment. If we can put them in those environments, they can bring about significant impact.
The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel
It seems to me, after reading the wisdom literature in the Bible for years, there are only a few categories that comprise health: physical/emotional, relational, civic, spiritual, and financial. Gaining wisdom is practically growing in these areas. Financial health is important for believers for many reasons. But that is a different blog post. Assuming we value financial health, this is a great book. It is filled with pithy one-liners and points out common pitfalls that we all fall prey to. It also has the thread that ties most of the personal finance world together; handling money is more about behavior than knowledge.
Across The River, Kent Babb
I think this was my favorite book I read all year long. It was riveting, well-written, and kept me engaged from the jump. Obviously, it played into my interest being about football, but the book is more than that. “Across the River” gave me a glimpse into what it is like to grow up in what almost seems like a different world: the inner city of New Orleans. Somehow this book managed to tell the story without pushing hard for a particular political agenda. You could say it rubs both sides the wrong way, which is something I appreciate.
Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund
This book was good enough to take our church through, and that is something we rarely do. Being in a southern context made this book especially compelling. I think it’s easy to think about God in heaven handing out rules and staying upset because we just can’t follow them correctly. Sure, because of the Gospel, God loves us, but that doesn’t mean that he likes us. This book really tries to point us to places in Scripture where the heart of Jesus reveals his compassion and care for believers. I think the best way to sum it up was in a simple question. When you think about God, what expression is on his face? Is He angrily pointing his finger at you, or is he smiling and beckoning you to come be with Him?