Reading and Leading

Ryan NealLeadership, Ryan Neal

Reading

Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a reader. Perhaps you make comments like “reading just isn’t my thing” or “I don’t read books. I wait for the movie.”

I understand this mindset, but my reply is – you just haven’t found something that you would like to read or need to know.

Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a leader. Perhaps you make comments like “I’m a better follower. Others can take charge.”

I understand this mindset, but my reply is – you likely haven’t realized that a) you are likely a leader to someone in some way and b) you may find yourself in a leadership position, so maybe some minor preparation is in order.

Today, I’d like to recommend 3 very different books that ministry readers and leaders should read. They are not leadership books, though certainly those can be helpful. Instead, I’ve suggested books to help you see the world differently … a past world, an invisible fictional world, and a present and future world.

My Reading/Leading Book Recommendations

Reading-The-Confessions

Augustine, The Confessions. Consistently, this book ranks in the top 5 of “Christian classics” and for good reason. The majority of the work is autobiographical, set as a prayer, by the most significant theologian after Paul the Apostle. His theology has influenced both Catholics and Protestants, and this work is insightful and compelling. St. Augustine, in his own words, retracing his early steps from his pear-snatching youth to his trips into false teaching.

Reading-The Screwtape Letters

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters. An exercise in creative writing, Lewis penned 31 letters under the guise of one demon training and guiding a younger demon in the art of dealing with their assigned human patients. Throughout Screwtape gives his protégé Wormwood advice on how to handle his patient, whether in romance or attending church or through the phases of undulation. On the one hand it’s entirely a work of fiction, but each time I read it Lewis opens up a new window to consider a range of issues, including: spiritual warfare, temptation, and the like.

Reading-When Helping Hurts

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself. There are several books with a similar theme, but arguably the best is Corbett and Fikkert’s work. It’s a good mix of theory and application, and if you want to read more about the issues they address, they have other books addressing the same topic but with different applications. How best should Christians, especially North American wealthy Christians help those in need? Whether across the globe or around the corner, Corbett and Fikkert diagnose the problem and offer solutions.

Three books from three genres to get your brain thinking along three different tracks.

Read. Lead. Repeat.

Dr. Neal earned a BA in Political Science from Texas Tech University. He then pursued theological and ministerial training and is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDivBL), and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (MTh; PhD). He is married to Jennifer, and they have four children.

Dr. Neal’s teaching and research focuses on the relationship between biblical interpretation and theology. His Ph.D. research focused on systematic theology, specifically questions raised in contemporary German theology. He is the author of Theology As Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of Jurgen Moltmann’s Doctrine of Hope, and has published a variety of essays, articles, and chapters on theological topics. Dr. Neal has presented papers in several academic venues in England, Scotland, New Zealand, and the United States. Most recently he presented a paper on eschatology at the University of Notre Dame.

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