I read an article earlier this week (I wish I could remember where. I thought it might be The Gospel Coalition or Desiring God or the Acts 29 Blog or even Matt Adair’s new blog over at Gridiron. But after a cursory search, I couldn’t find it. So “disclaimer”: I read the premise for this article somewhere else.)
Anyway, as I was saying, I read an article earlier this week that highlighted one of the less well known aspects of a (good) pastor’s job description. Reading. Yes, reading is work. Yes, it is work that I really enjoy. And yes, it is a very necessary part of a healthy pastor’s schedule.
Each week, I am attempting to read broadly from news sites and current events to helpful blogs (a few of which I mentioned above). Then of course there is Scripture, which encompasses my devotional reading as well as all of the Biblical commentaries and other sermon helps that I am working through as a part of my regular weekly sermon preparation.
But then there are the books, which are my primary focus here. The way I typically plan out my reading encompasses the practice of reading several books at once, all from different genres or subject areas. So for example, I will often be reading one book on the subject of preaching, a second book on Bible study, and then a third work of fiction.
So, in light of the aforementioned un-cited article, what follows is a brief snapshot of some of the books currently on my nightstand.
This is a book written by a (really, really good) preacher about preaching, a task in which I never feel quite comfortable with my skill level. Therefore, this is an area where I always want to be reading, learning, listening, growing. Dr. Smith’s book is helpful in that he is helping me to see the value in preaching both, theologically accurate and doctrinally deep sermons (addressing the head), while also helping me grow in the more “celebratory’ and emotionally engaging aspects of preaching (addressing the heart) often typified by the African American preaching experience.
Book 2: “Jesus the King” by Tim Keller
This book is by Tim Keller. Do I need another reason to read it? If I do, then here it is. In this book, Keller is looking at the life of Jesus through the particular lens of Mark’s gospel account. I am currently preaching through the book of Mark this year at Bluff Park Community Church, so Keller’s insights are very helpful as a part of familiarizing myself with Jesus in the text and preparing myself to preach. Plus again… it’s Keller ya’ll. It is always a privilege to look through his lens.
Book 3: “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson
This is my current fiction book. And reading it has helped me realize that I don’t read nearly enough fiction. It’s good for my soul, and my imagination. This book in particular has held my interest (once I got into Robinsons’s “rhythm” of writing, which was a bit harder than I expected over the first couple of chapters) primarily because of the main character, who is an older pastor reaching the end of his life and career. The whole book is basically a memoir being written to his young son. Kind of an “all the stuff I would have told you if I had been around, but I was too old and you were too young and then I died before I got the chance to say it all, so your mother asked me to write all this down” kind of a book. Good, steady, reflective story-telling.