Two months into 2014, I have read three books, from cover to cover.

What is wrong with me? (Or better said, what is right with me?)

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book all the way through and I’m not proud to admit that there are dozens of books on my shelf that I have read exactly 1.5 chapters and the conclusion.

I used to live for reading. I used to check out 16 library books (the max) in the 5th grade because they let 5th graders do that and I would stack them up in my room and open them up and devour them from cover to cover–staying up way to late and barely being able to wake in the morning because I loved reading so much. Consequently, I learned about the life of Mozart and Beethoven and a person named Nancy Drew. I also learned astronomy and about robotics and about a really sad love story that was way over my head. I even read a book that I didn’t formerly “check out at the desk” but informally tucked away in my bag because I was too ashamed to let anyone know that I really wanted to learn about how bodies worked and why my body was changing. I returned it after reading it and and traded it for a gripping John Grisham laywer mystery novel.

Then I decided murder mysteries were my thing and I read every Christopher Pike book ever written.

But I slowly gained a few layers to my life. Two little girls who I would rather read Olivia’s tales of world travel to or stories about a boy and his bear Winnie-the-Pooh use some of this time previously spent for my own enjoyment. It’s been busy in ministry and I like being outside and I like working out and I like getting to make spur of the moment plans to watch a movie at the theater with my family on a school night. There are a lot of things to consider and sometimes I miss letting myself sink into a book for the pure enjoyment of learning or for the simple curosity of peering into another world.

I made a decision to take better care of myself this year by not letting myself highlight or “use” anything I was reading until after I have read it for myself, enjoyed it for myself, experienced for myself.

This is the temptation of being a youth leader, pastor, writer, teacher….
we are mining books, blogs, media for “thought gold” and denying ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn as the receiver.

It’s also why it’s important to read the Bible in a non-planning, non-preaching, non-tweeting mode at some point every day. May we be so empty, that we can be so full. And out of that fullness we can serve, lead, teach, create, and offer up wonderful things to others.

While finishing three books in their entirety may not seem like a mountain, it has been for me and I’m in awe at all that I’m learning as I read slow, not to only to know something more, but to grow something within.

Now, I’m heading into round two on all three books, this time to read it for others.

I think this is a better way. It may not be that I’m always afforded the luxury of reading books twice, once for “me” and once for “we” but it seems like a pretty great plan so far.

I look forward to talking about what I’m learning in the posts to come.

Here are the books that are settling in my bones right now.

1. Jesus Feminist – Sarah Bessey
2. Lead Small – Reggie Joiner, Tom Shefchunas
3. The Blue Bike – Tsh Oxenreider

I’ve read all three. And each has been a wonderful adventure for me.
I’ll take the time to read all three again and share my thoughts on how they can apply to life and youth ministry, then move on to three more books.

Looking forward to how this will work out–and I would love to know what you are reading for you and what you’re reading for others and if they are the same things.

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