Reading is drudgery for most people. According to the Jenkins Group, a research company, 33 percent of high school graduates will not read another book after graduation. We live in a visual culture where information is gained at the click of a button. With the advent of DVR’s, On Demand Cable and Web Streaming, there is no reason to have to wait through commercials to get to the end of the story or program. I have to admit that I enjoy most of the technological advances we have at our fingertips. They make communication easier (to some degree) and faster. However, if a leader is going to be effective and influential then he is going to have to read. Many of my friends enjoy using their Kindle, or other tablets, to access books, articles, news media and other sources of information. There is nothing wrong with any of that. I use many of the same outlets. Though when it comes to reading books, I still prefer to have the actual book in my hand. I like to be able to mark in my books and be able to go back to specific sections later and review. This can be done with most of the electronic print as well.
My concern is not whether we read in hard copy or electronic copy, but that we are using the discipline of reading to increase our leadership effectiveness and influence. You may not consider yourself a leader. However, all of us have a circle of friends that we have the potential to influence. All of us have some capacity for being a leader. There are many reasons that leaders should be readers. Here are three specific ones that encourage me in the discipline of reading: 1. Reading allows me to draw upon the wisdom of God through the lives of other leaders. I can’t possibly expect to know everything about any particular subject. Therefore, it is helpful to be able to grow and be discipled through the writings of other mature leaders of both the past and the present. 2. Reading improves my ability to articulate my ideas to others. Whether it is in casual conversation, leadership training or preaching from the pulpit, I am better able to articulate my ideas because I have had an opportunity to have them fleshed out in my reading. For example, when I am preparing a sermon, I may have a good idea of what the biblical text means, but I may struggle to word it in a clear manner. Reading the writings of others on the subject, can help me to get my idea out of my head and into words that clearly express what I want to communicate. 3. Reading improves my ability to counsel and speak into the lives of others. As a pastor, I have numerous opportunities to counsel people one-on-one, with couples and with families. Reading expands my knowledge base on a variety of subjects that helps me be better equipped for the ministry of counseling. It does not matter if it is in the formal setting of the counseling session, or just in the normal stops of the week when someone says, “Hey, can I ask you a question?” Reading makes you prepared for the opportunities that God provides.