(The following article is from Leadership magazine. Warren Wiersbe shares the books that keep him in ministry)
A college student wrote me requesting counsel concerning a personal problem, and the last sentence in her letter was “Please don’t tell me to read a book!”
She was smart enough to know that reading a book doesn’t automatically solve your problems any more than reading a prescription (if you can read it) instantly makes you healthy. You have to process the material you read and then act upon it by faith.
In times of pressure and difficulty during more than fifty years of ministry, I’ve often turned to these books for enlightenment and encouragement:
The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis.
It’s available in numerous editions. Mine is a sturdy pocket edition published by Oxford University. Read slowly and meditatively, and don’t try to hide or put up defenses. The book brings you back to reality-and to God, who is the source of reality.
Sacred Songs and Solos (Marshall Pickering, 2001), compiled under the direction of Ira D. Sankey.
A hymnal? Yes. Only the words are in this handy volume, but what words! (I don’t sing them – I read them carefully.) Drinking again and again from these “old wells” has brought me untold peace and joy, and also conviction.
Christian Perfection (Harper and Row, 1947), by Francois Fenelon, edited by Charles F. Whiston.
This is a collection of Fenelon’s “spiritual letters” and other writings, and they are rich treasures indeed. As you read, pause to think and pray. Saunter. You’ll miss too much if you run.
The Pursuit of God (Christian Publications, 1982), by A. W. Tozer.
Like Fenelon, whom he admired and read, Tozer compressed a great deal of truth into brief sentences that immediately start you thinking. He calls me back to spiritual priorities, to the importance of solitude, to seeking to please God alone. Calm down!
God is still on the throne!
The Biography of James Hudson Taylor (China Inland Mission, 1965), by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.
There’s also a Moody Press edition called J. Hudson Taylor: God’s Man in China (1982). I never tire of reading how God took time to make a man and then used that man to make a ministry that serves God faithfully even today. How Hudson Taylor learned about the “exchanged life” and shared the news with others is a gripping story – and you and I can be in it!
A Minister’s Obstacles (Revell, 1946), by Ralph G. Turnbull.
My friend Ralph Turnbull knew God, knew his Bible, and knew the ministry; and all three are woven together in this book. Brief penetrating chapters deal with “The Paralysis of Pride,” “The Peril of Privilege,” “The Snare of Substitutes,” and other topics we didn’t hear much about in school. This book needs to be reprinted.
A Diary of Readings (Oxford University Press, 1955), compiled by John Baillie.
Baillie explored the writings of the great, the scholarly, the godly, and the forgotten to give us an incredible anthology of spiritual truth “to engage serious thought” (the compiler’s words). It’s arranged for daily reading, but I don’t apologize for occasionally opening the book at random and reading it.
Henry David Thoreau advised, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” I don’t know what books will be best for you, but these books have been among the best for me.
©2004 Warren W. Wiersbe. Used by permission of W. Wiersbe and Leadership Journal.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).