reading as spiritual discipline

John Wesley is quoted as having once said:

It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people.

While it isn’t typically listed as one of the classical spiritual disciplines, reading is one of them – it is through reading that we can learn to slow ourselves down long enough to hear what others are saying both to us and to others and that through that exercise, we can both engage in the conversation (the present one and the one of the ages), and receive from others allowing them to speak into our lives in one fashion or another.

One author who blogs, Karen Spears Zacharias, has a post about this issue today – she met a Christian bookstore manager AND pastor who seemingly proudly declared to her, an author, “I manage the bookstore, but I don’t read.”   This is outrageous!  lol!  Who does this man think he is?  He is both a bookstore manage and a pastor and he does not read??!!  How?  Why?  Could we but wonder as to not only his own spiritual health but that of the congregation he supposedly leads?  Zacharias shares:

This gnawing in my gut is more than indigestion — it’s the disturbing recognition that far too many pastors have abandoned the spiritual discipline of reading. And I’m not just talking about Bible reading, although I’ve heard my share of sermons this year that I suspect were pre-packaged and downloaded online.

I’m talking about reading a book besides the Bible.

And I might add, and that not superficial material.  Mix it up and read deep too.  From the pastoral perspective I think it was Doug Stuart in his book, Old Testament Exegesis, where he argued that “the good exegete reads widely and broadly.”  Pastors and church leaders, let alone bookstore managers, need to be well read people.  Why?  Because readers are leaders and if our leaders are not reading, it will hurt their leadership.  Plain and simple.

So let us take heed from this example and once again lead our congregations by example and be readers, readers who read widely and broadly, leaders who are well read people.

Go here to see what Rick Warren says about Pastors and Reading.


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