Preachers need to be, as well as many other things, readers. But unless you are single and financially set for life, you probably don’t have as much time as you’d like for reading. Join the club. So this post includes some thoughts, then perhaps you can share your suggestions and experiences too.
1. Reading book reviews can offer a varied input without massive time. I find it helpful to scan through and read some of the reviews in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, as well as a couple of other journals. There are many sources of book reviews, both academic and popular level, for Christian and wider reading.
2. Break the buyers obligation mindset. So many people I know feel trapped by an unwritten rule that states if you buy a book you must read cover to cover, including preface and foreword, before moving on to another book. Loose yourself from such a yoke of slavery! If you pay ten dollars, pounds, yen or whatever for a book, and one chapter is all that you really need to read, then you paid ten dollars/pounds/yen for that chapter (the other chapters were a free gift from the publisher for you to keep on your shelves or give to someone else!)
3. Read wisely, which isn’t just word by word. Preview a chapter before you read it, scan the pages, check out the conclusion, survey the headings, etc. Read for learning rather than simply achieving the page goal.
4. Be ready to read in snippets. You have five minutes to wait before your ride arrives at the mechanic’s place to pick you up . . . so you read two pages (and when they are a few minutes later, you’ve read more!) You think you’ll have no time to wait when you pick up the car, but without a book the opportunity is wasted when they take an extra thirty minutes to be finished (does this sound like something that just happened to me?)
5. Perhaps a balanced diet approach might help. I heard of one minister who had a daily regimen of reading for two hours. Thirty minutes of Bible. Thirty minutes of a christian book. Thirty minutes of a non-Christian book. Thirty minutes of a cricket book. Diligent habits like that result in a lot of knowledge of cricket, or Bible, or whatever you care about. Maybe that’s why I know almost nothing about cricket. Actually, I know about the things I care about, because I make time for them. Which is my point.
What do you do to help you be a reader, a wise reader?