A month or so ago my friend Greg Ducker asked me what were some of my favorite books? What were some books that have influenced me in leadership and personally? I have been thinking a lot about that question recently, and I thought I’d write a blog post about it. Here are the books that have shaped me. I have organized this list into different sections.
Grace. What books have taught me a deeper understanding of God’s love and mercy?
Theology. What books have shaped my core belief about God?
Leadership. What books have made me a better leader?
Spiritualty. What books have helped me pray and read Scripture better?
I’ve said before that these two books, along with the next book listed have done more to shape my understanding of grace than anything else I’ve ever read. What I love about these two, in particular, is that they take us to the Bible, what to scripture say about who Jesus is and what grace is. Not what have we been taught? Not what do we believe? But what does the Bible actually say? These two books taught me that the Bible truly teaches that above all else, we are loved.
Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
And the Ragamuffin Gospel fleshes out the reality that we are all broken. We are all sinful. We are all poor and needed. And God loves us anyway. Grace is not earned. It is received. This book, more than any I have ever read, taught me that me that grace is an undeserved gift that is to be received (not earned) and gloried in.
John Wesley’s Sermons by John Wesley
In seminary, we had had to outline each of these sermons, and at the time, I wasn’t overjoyed at this. But looking back now, I am so thankful. Having to read each of these sermons really ingrained in me, what I believe is the core of Wesley’s theology, to love God and love our neighbor. And this only done through God’s grace.
The New Creation by Theodore Runyon
This book right here, this book is what I believe. No book better encapsulated my doctrine. And I guess I should say that this book really “made” my doctrine. Through the fall, all of humanity was corrupted. And the point of the cross, the grave, and the life of grace is forgiveness and sanctification, as God seeks to restore in us what sin has taken. God intendes to make us a new creation. This book explaines it better than anything I’ve ever read.
Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
This was the first book I read after I became a Christian. And in reading this book, it laid down for me the notion that faith and Christian theology are a perfectly rational world view. I still use so many of the things that Lewis laid out to be able to explain why faith in God is a rational thing.
In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
My great fear in ministry when I was first appointed was leadership. I didn’t want to lead. What if I made the wrong decision. What if I messed up? What if I chose wrong? This book helped my understood that as I loved Jesus and followed Him, my leadership would be about leading in His name, not in my name. And that gave the confidence to lead, because it’s not about me, it’s about Him.
Seven Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley
I read this book a few years back, and the point that this book drove home for me was this. What is the point of what you are doing? What are you trying to accomplish? What is your goal? Anything that moves you closer to that goal that is a “win.” And those wins are to be celebrated. This book helped me understand what it is that I am trying to accomplish for Jesus.
Rule of St. Benedict edited by Joan Chittister
This book has taught me to pray. It teaches me humility. It teaches me service. It teaches me that my most important job is to pray. I read it every day. And apart from the Bible, nothing has changed my life more than this book.
Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
This book shows me my weakness. It shows me my tendencies to wander and depart from God. It shows my where I am prone to fall. This book reminds me that there is evil and the world and there is great temptation within me as well. This book reminds me that I need to walk close to God, every day of my life, to have any shot of standing.