Once again, let’s open in prayer. “God, today I ask for discernment for both________and myself. We need to be able to discern truth and wisdom from safe resources. I pray you’ll protect our hearts and keep us always aware that You and Your Word are the true source of life and answers we need. Help us to chose carefully what books to read and what advice to act on. May we remember to always filter everything through the truth of Your Word. In Jesus name, amen.”
Step Three – Resources #3 – Your Contribution -Reading Resources
Before I share my recommended resources, this is my attitude towards all resources other than the Bible summed up in three words – “Trust No One.” And “Guard Your Heart.” Why? John 2: 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
Yes, we are all fallible. We should not follow the teachings of any man or woman, but rather follow Jesus. Many great leaders and teachers have proven to be hypocrites, with appalling motives that throw doubt and confusion on all who’ve followed them. This leads me to the next verse I keep in mind all the time: James 3:1 says,”Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” I’m shaking in my boots, believe me! I don’t want to point you or anyone else in the wrong direction – because I know someday God will be holding me accountable for what I’ve taught! That’s why I’m leaving off my list several great books whose authors I’ve found to be hypocritical or off base theologically in one way or another.
Therefore, I give my recommendations with a caution to read them, well, cautiously. Always filter advice from any source through the Bible’s teachings before applying it to your life. Let the Bible be the basis for your decision making and then take responsibility for your own decisions.
That said, below are important categories and my “go-to” books that to date have proved to have good teachings.
For the new Christian – Now That I Believe by Robert A. Cook. For the maturing Christian – Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Chambers. For Christians seeking to understand the role of the Holy Spirit – Charles C. Ryrie’s book, The Holy Spirit, is a classic. Who are You to Judge by Dr. Irwin Lutzer is also insightful.
Also, as you grow spiritually it’s important to understand how God has gifted you to impact the body of believers. There is controversy over which particular book or test about spiritual gifts is most helpful. Because of this, I recommend you simply go online and google/search “spiritual gifts test” and chose one to take, online, for free. This will give you at least an awareness of your gifts. Please also read over the lists directly from the Bible in I Corinthians 12 and in Ephesians 4. (You can google those two books that are in the Bible to find the list, too.) Ask God to give you insights into how He’s wired you. Begin to put them to use. For example, if you’re gifted at serving, begin to test out ways in which you find the most pleasure and are most effective at serving others.
Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud, Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud are both excellent. (I have found most of his books helpful.) Now, Discover Your Strengths, and Go Put Your Strengths to Work – both by Marcus Buckingham, will help you focus in on your talents and how to use them fully. If you’re looking to grow in your work environment, read John Maxwell’s books on leadership as well as Robert Heller’s books in the Essential Managers Series. These classics give a broad understanding of workplace dynamics, problems and solutions. They are not “Christian” books.
Relational Issues: Love is a Choice by Dr. Robert Hemfelt, Safe People by Henry Cloud, Love Must Be Tough by Dr. James Dobson, and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman are excellent resources. Shaunti Feldhahn’s books are newer and quite helpful in understanding the needs of women and men, particularly her books, For Women Only and For Men Only.
So, which book sounds most helpful to you? If I knew you personally, I’d hand pick one and go over it with you the next time we meet. Will you consider choosing one and reading it?
Step Three – Resources #3- My Contribution -Reading Resources
I’m aware that books may not be the best way you learn. However, they do give insights and if you’re serious about learning, disciplining yourself to read carefully selected materials will pay off.
This is the stage where I begin to see how serious you are about learning and growing to achieve your one clear objective. I’m looking to see actual steps you’re taking towards growth. Are you doing hard work and still open to being held accountable? As for my part, I’ve been listening carefully and will make the best recommendations possible. I’ll ask you the tough questions and follow up on the steps you’re taking. The biggest mistake I can make here is to not hold you accountable. I’m hoping that even if you’ve read the books already, or detest reading, that you’ll begin to see you need to take action steps towards growth.
Next up is Step Four- Resources #4 and then we’re almost done! Hang in there, and please know that I’m continuing to pray for you with both joy and tenacity – for I know that “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6) It’s a privilege to cheer you on!