I was recently asked what the top three books were in my life. I thought it was a great question.
What a lot of you might not know is that I actually majored in English Education in college after deciding to go into ministry. I have read a lot of books. Another confession – I speed-read. Do I miss a few words yes; do I miss concepts – no. I believe that reading is one of the keys to leading. Even when you don’t agree with a book’s principles, it causes you to think.
Disclaimer: I am going to exclude the Bible from this list. It is a given that I love the Bible and it is the most important book in my life. I could write a lot here but for the sake of time…it is at the very top.
Here is my top three:
1. Boundaries: When to say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life – Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
I read this book early into my ministry in Tampa in my early 30’s. This book basically changed my life. As someone who struggled with insecurity and people pleasing growing up, this showed me that it is ok to say “no” to all the requests and demands of life and others. Here is my bottom line that I took from the book:
God has given me gifts, talents and abilities that I am to grow, develop and protect. I am the gatekeeper to all those as others come into my life. Some people I will open the gate to and to others I will keep it shut. It isn’t arrogance, indifference or lack of valuing others. Instead, it is valuing God and all that he has given me.
When I began this approach to people, it made me be more real with people. Like I said, this book was a life changer.
- Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High – Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Kerry Patterson.
One of the members of Grace did a presentation to all the pastors on this book and it gave us a phrase that has changed our culture and my own personal life. The phrase is very simple – “I am going to have a crucial conversation with you.” When someone says that at work or at home, I know it is going to be a tough conversation. But in both places, we have them. We hit things straight on and discuss, challenge and communicate for a better result. We are not at 100% in either location. Yet, the more crucial conversations we have, the less that is left “unsaid.” Things left in the dark have power; when things are said, those involved have power to bring clarification, make changes and see results.
- My Life Memoirs by John Bonham
John Bonham was my great grandfather. He wrote his memoirs down before he passed. It was a straight account of his life and it’s milestones. He accomplished some amazing things:
- He started a bank.
- He was a judge for harness racing on the county circuit.
- He created a moving starting gate for the same races.
- He developed an inventory system for a Kroger’s distribution center.
- And my favorite, he was offered a job and was told to fill in his salary on a blank paycheck. He wrote a number that was reasonable and what the job was worth and not a penny more.
I learned how he built his life on character, integrity, honesty and hard work. I see those qualities in my dad and my brothers. I try to live that way.
These three books have not only impacted my life, they transformed it. They challenged me to go to places I didn’t want to go at times. They called me to go grow. What books have caused you to grow?