Stop Reading So Much

The offices of most church leaders are lined with bookshelves, reflective of the idea that leaders are readers. We love discovering new ideas and dreaming of what they could do for our churches. I am concerned, however, that the majority of those ideas never leave the written page to be implemented within our organizations.

I have met many successful leaders who were well-read. I have also met many struggling leaders who were equally well-read. There is no simple correlation between readership and successful leadership.

Leaders are readers. But readers are not leaders. And reading valuable ideas without applying them for change is only entertainment, not development.

If you have been dissatisfied by your church’s progress for more than three years, the solution you need is probably not in the next book. You can look there. And you will probably get excited about a few new concepts. You might even buy a copy for everyone on your staff. But the progress of a church is an issue of leadership, not readership. One more book will not improve the first.

We actually communicate a similar concept to our church members. We tell them, “You need to do more than just come and listen. You need to apply these principles to the details of your life.” The same is true of the information we read in leadership books. Rather than simply read great ideas, we must strategically apply and implement them throughout the organizations we lead. Instead of closing one book just to open another, we should pause to develop plans that turn ideas into actions.

I suggest a 90-day test with anything we read. 90 days from the completion of a book, we should be able to easily answer the following question: How is my church, leadership, or personal life different because of the book I just read? Try me on this. Put the question on your calendar the next time you finish a book. Set a reminder in your phone to put it back in front of you. In 90 days, you’ll find your answer either convicting or rewarding. And eventually you’ll find your reading truly impacting your leading.

Here are some questions to help turn the ideas you read into the actions you lead:
What did I read that was new to me?
What does my church need the most right now?
What would need to change to turn these ideas into a reality?
Who would be affected?
Who needs to be involved in this?
When can we start this?
What first step can I take in the next 14 days?

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Ryan Stigile