Every day I get an A. W. Tozer devotional online. Recently, the devotional contained thoughts by Tozer on reading. Check it out.
“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel (Proverbs 1:5). When a very young minister, I asked the famous holiness preacher, Joseph H. Smith, whether he would recommend that I read widely in the secular field. He replied, “Young man, a bee can find nectar in the weed as well as in the flower.” I took his advice (or, to be frank, I sought confirmation of my own instincts rather than advice) and I am not sorry that I did.
John Wesley told the young ministers of the Wesleyan Societies to read or get out of the ministry, and he himself read science and history with a book propped against his saddle pommel as he rode from one engagement to another. Andy Dolbow, the American Indian preacher of considerable note, was a man of little education, but I once heard him exhort his hearers to improve their minds for the honor of God. “When you are chopping wood,” he explained, “and you have a dull axe you must work all the harder to cut the log. A sharp axe makes easy work. So sharpen your axe all you can.” (The Size of the Soul, 33.)
While I admit I don’t read much fiction, I do think being well-read is a key to staying on top in ministry. At any time, I’m looking for books on the Civil War, WWII, biographies, plus books related to ministry. Ron Dunn, one of the key influencers in my life, used to read broadly. His library is housed at our church now, and when I scan the shelves it is obvious he read authors he disagreed with.
With the advent of technology, reading has become a lost art. With the emergence of conferences and sermon websites, we no longer are required to read or study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that are not ashamed. Now, we just cut and paste. The end result is shallow thinking and preaching.
A good Bible reading plan is essential. A good reading plan that keeps your mind active, that stretches you to think and wrestle with ideas, is not a bad thought either.
copyright 2008, Michael Catt
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.