John Piper has a famous quote: “Reading is more important than eating.”
I love bacon and donuts and burritos, so I’m not quite sure I agree.
But I get the gist: reading is very important.
The Bible affirms this repeatedly:
- Jesus says eternal life is to know him (John 17:3).
- Paul reminds Timothy to bring him his books (2 Timothy 4:13).
- Moses commands parents to teach their kids the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 11:19)
And on and on the Bible goes.
So what’s one of the best ways to know, understand, and teach?
I can’t read a book a day like Rick Warren, but I do plow through about 25-35 books a year. So let me give you some quick tips to help you read more.
1. Learn to see the value in reading.
If you don’t see the value, reading will seem like a duty, not a delight. You have to see reading as one of the most important things that can take your time.
2. Plan to read.
The number one reason why you don’t read as much as you’d like is because it doesn’t make your calendar. Plan to read, and your reading habits will soar.
3. Bring a book with you everywhere you go.
You might think you need four hours in the afternoon to read. You don’t. Most days you probably won’t have more than 45 minutes in one sitting. But if you bring a book with you everywhere you go (Kindle books are great for this), you can squeeze a few minutes here and there in the open time slots of your day.
4. Don’t neglect Scripture for the sake of Christian literature.
All Christian readers feel this tension. There’s so much to read, yet so little time. “The Bible? Pshh. Read that twice. I think I’ll read Tim Keller’s new book instead.” This is a mistake that I’ve made a lot. Read as much Christian literature as possible, but never at the expense of the Bible.
5. Read even when you don’t feel like it.
I don’t always feel like going to the gym. But I go anyway because I know the desire to exercise will come once I get there. Likewise, the desire to read usually comes while you read, not before. Don’t wait for a feeling. Just start reading and the desire will (usually) come.
6. Read multiple books at one time.
I usually have 5-10 books going at once. This helps me stay stimulated, and prevents me from getting bored or sick of any one book. Rarely do I read a book from start to end without dipping into other works. Read multiple books at once and you’ll find yourself reading more often.
7. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t finish the whole book.
“Books don’t change people. Sentences do. And sometimes just words,” says John Piper. You don’t have to read the whole book to experience a life change. Put the book down, and move on to the next if you don’t want to finish it.
8. Keep a book journal.
Write down everything you want to read and have read. And look at the list daily. I can’t explain it, but there’s some psychological effect that happens when you write stuff down. Your pen becomes your eyes and spurs you into action.
Well, there’s eight tips. There’s a lot more I can say. But you only have 24 hours in a day, so find a book and read it. Then read another. Oh, and read when you don’t feel like it, too. You’ll be glad you did. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord’s service.”
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