Our Top Reads of 2017


Reading has been referred to as "the gymnasium for the mind." As leaders, we can learn and grow so much from it. Both Pastor Gene and I love reading and hope to inspire you to take on some great books this year!

In this week's podcast, Pastor Gene and I are sharing with you our top reads of 2017. If you would like to purchase a copy of your own, simply click the book title. Let’s get started!

Pastor Kelly’s #3: Own the Moment by Carl Lentz

This was my most recent read. Carl Lentz is the pastor of the Hillsong New York Church and his book follows the many stories of his life and of his ministry. It is incredibly inspiring and honest. I took away many great principles from what Lentz shared, principles that I want to apply to my own life and ministry as a pastor.

For me, the most memorable story Lentz included was one of an experience he had while attending the Hillsong Bible College. He was asked to come up to the front of the class to pray but he was so terrified that he ran away and hid in the bathroom, even standing atop a toilet so that no one would know he was there. It was amazing to read that account from a man who is now being interviewed across America and has become one of the biggest spokespeople for the next generation church. It just shows that God can use anyone, anywhere, and that even though some of our heroes look like they have it all together, everyone has their struggles. God can use our greatest weaknesses for His glory! I think my favourite quote from the book would have to be when Lentz said, “I want to be a leader and a husband and a pastor who is so secure that I can love quickly, give generously, and forgive freely because I know where my life is anchored.”

Pastor Kelly’s #2: The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day by John Maxwell

This book is a devotional for leaders and is taken from John Maxwell’s book called The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership but is a Bible study. Maxwell takes the 21 laws and gives an example of a Biblical character, walking you through their process of mastering a particular law. I love that he takes a character and a law and gives you a week's worth of devotions for them. It allows you to meditate for a week on that law and put it into practice yourself. I’d highly recommend every pastor and leader get this devotional.

If I am honest, I have been bored of Maxwell’s books lately. Don’t get me wrong, he is one of my all-time favourite authors and no one compares to him when it comes to leadership. However, I have found a number of his latest books to be receptive of his earlier works and I didn’t get much out of them. But, this one was different. I found it refreshing, inspiring, and very very practical. I just wanted to get that out there just in case there were others that were feeling the same about Maxwell’s writing lately.

I think this book partners very well with The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The devotional digs a little further into each law by giving an actual historical example through the Biblical characters. I think the 21 Laws book is one of the best leadership books ever written and would highly suggest you put it on the top of your reading list for 2018. And get Maxwell’s devotional to partner with it; the two of them will take your leadership to another level!

Pastor Gene’s #3: Instinct by TD Jakes

This one was a re-read for me. I decided to go through it again because I really appreciate the phrasing of Jakes’ thoughts. My favourite quote is about Jakes watching his children “unpack the inventory of their uniqueness”. I am still “unpacking my uniqueness,” as is Pastor Kelly.

Pastor Gene’s #2: Ted Talks by Chris Anderson & Spark and Grind by Erik Wahl

Ted Talks is one of my favourite websites. This book is about how the various speakers create their Ted Talks. It is very practical and references various talks that were challenging to the presenter. Everyone from Monica Lewinsky to Colin Powell.

Pastor Kelly read Talk like Ted which is one of his top picks for 2017 as well. It is one of the reasons our church has switched to 18-minute sermons on Sunday’s.

One of my main takeaways from Talk like Ted was the thought that “overstuffed” equals “under-explained”. Woodrow Wilson famously said, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Presenting just one idea and doing it well takes time. Richard Bach writes, “Great writing is all about the power of the deleted word.” I believe the same is true in speaking.

My second choice for the #2 slot is Spark and Grind by Erik Wahl. “Spark” refers to those “aha!” moments when we have an idea. “Grind” refers to “grinding an idea to the finish line.” We often face the problem of running with a good idea and ignoring better ideas that may come up along the way. Grinders are people who ignore better sparks along the way. We need to learn to do both; always expect new sparks and always be grinding ideas to their finish line. Our first idea is never the best because ideas grow. The point is to spark new ideas even while grinding our first idea to the finish line.

Pastor Gene’s #1: Resilience by Eric Greitens

This is an awesome book of letters from one Navy Seal to another. For Navy Seals, the frontline is where they live with purpose and experience victories and friendships, but also a place of fear, struggle, and suffering. Once out of their military service, they have to find a new purpose, similar to when people go through challenging times like divorce or addiction. Greitens challenges his friend that the words we say to ourselves are tools by which resilience is maximized.

He sites professional climbers and the discipline of packing well. Every tool has a purpose; a sleeping bag for sleeping, a lantern for light, gloves for protection etc. Every tool has a purpose and every tool has a weight. At sea level, an axe feels like a feather but at 12,000 feet, hours from the summit, an extra pound feels like an anvil. Words have value and the right words can right your balance. We have to carry what is essential and leave the rest behind. Thus the quote, “When we’re struggling, we need the right words in our mind.” Resilience is packed full of truths that line up with the Word of God but are freshly worded.

Pastor Kelly’s #1: Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch

This is not a new book, in fact, it’s been out for a while, but I got to it just last year. I think one reason I avoided it is the sheer size of the book: it’s quite a hefty read. I also didn’t know how much of it would apply to me. But, I found it to be a fascinating read and I took a bunch of practical principles from it that I could apply to my own leadership.

I think my ultimate top pick for #1 would have to be my new book coming out this year! It is called Six Anchors and is a 40-day devotional based on hope. Hebrews 6:19 says that “this hope will be an anchor for our souls.” The Amplified Bible defines that anchor as one that “cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it.” So, I did a Bible study on the word hope and exactly where the Bible says we can place our hope that would not give out. I found six specific places where the Bible instructs us to place our hope, hence the name “Six Anchors”. My prayer is that it will help readers to locate (or relocate) their hope so that they can live life with the fullest confidence regardless of the circumstances surrounding them. The book certainly helped me with this as I wrote it. We hope to release it on Easter Sunday: April 1st, 2018. 

Motivation for Reading

I am addicted to reading. I think it is because as leaders, we are constantly faced with new problems and challenges. I find that I am always looking for new solutions and ideas to face the ever-changing challenges that come my way as a leader. It is one discipline that helps me refuel and re-fire for the future. It helps me stay solution focused instead of problem focused. I need it or I won’t survive as a leader.

The Word of God is the best read anytime and anywhere; it’s really our number one read at all times. 2018 is a great time to encourage people - and yourself - to read the Bible with fresh eyes and a fresh heart every time they pick it up. The Bible is alive and there has never been, and never will be, a book that can duplicate it. It comes partnered with the Holy Spirit who makes what was written in it thousands of years ago so alive for life today. It’s the lifeblood of every human, especially leaders, and most definitely for us pastors. We need it, not just as a preparation tool for our sermons, but as a life source for us personally. Why? Because it is in the Bible that we can hear from God the best and get His guidance to lead His church as the hope of the world on our God-given mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

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