Issue No. 224 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights a book about books—with a Top-100 book list—along with a probing question, “What important books haven’t you read yet?” And this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
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What Important Books Haven’t You Read Yet?
In the “Life-Changing Classics” series by Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, there’s a jam-packed pocket-size gem of just 64 pages, Books Are Tremendous. It’s a nifty little tool for inspiring non-readers to pick up a book and begin their life-long learning journey. He quotes Orison S. Marden on “Intention, Attention and Retention.”
“To read profitably one must keep these three things in mind: intention, attention, and retention. It is worth noting that the word retention comes from the Latin retces, a net. Nets are made so that the smaller and worthless fishes may slip through the meshes. So the mind trained to retention allows trivial things to escape and holds in memory only things of greater importance.”
And to mix metaphors, Jones adds this counsel from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on a sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in anyhow.”
I mention all of this because a book about books arrived recently and I was reminded of a haunting question asked of me my senior year of college. Dr. Ralph G. Turnbull (1901-1985), pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Seattle, was an adjunct prof at Seattle Pacific College (now SPU). He agreed to take me on for three hours of independent study—so I could graduate. But on Day 1, his first question took me by surprise: “John, what important books haven’t you read yet?”
I faked an important sounding answer—but Dr. Turnbull wasn’t impressed. After a prolonged and awkward silence, he blessed me by rattling off his distinguished list of important books. Clearly, no self-respecting senior would neglect these treasures. Most of those books (and I did read them) have slipped through the mesh, but significant wisdom remains, like the important truths from Christian Nurture, by Horace Bushnell (published in 1861, now digitized by Google).
So what’s my point today? Well…what important books haven’t you read yet?
I’m a sucker for book lists, such as the book I reviewed in 2009, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You, by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten.
In 2010, three writers, Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison, teamed up to deliver the “100 books that have, should or will create Christian culture.” There’s no way you can avoid these books list:
--It’s part vanity. How many have I read?
--It’s part contrarian. Really? Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness made the list?
--And it’s part need-to-know. What do others know that I don’t know?
I counted about 20 books I’ve actually read; another 10 or so are on my yet-to-read shelf. There are 20 or 30 others you probably think a guy like me would have read, but nope. (Gotta get around to those too. Dr. Turnbull’s shadow still convicts.)
Their Top-100 list spans the centuries and culture:
--Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe
--The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence
--The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
--The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
--The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
--A New Kind of Christian, by Brian McLaren
--Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller
--The God Trilogy, by Timothy Keller
--Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell
I was happy they included one of my all-time favorites, Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, but wondered why God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew (which I appreciate) made the Top-100 list. That’s the fun of books lists. You resonate with the reviews you love—and whine about lower priority books that made the list.
Interestingly, there were no books by megachurch pastors Schuller, Swindoll, Hybels, Warren, Jakes or Osteen. Nothing either by Lucado, Alcorn, Chan or Maxwell. Beth Moore, Sarah Young or Joyce Meyer? Nada. Memo to publishers: making the prestigious ECPA Top-50 Bestseller list in 2010 was not a free pass to this list.
C.S. Lewis got two on the list. A.W. Tozer, Dallas Willard, John Piper and Madeleine L’Engle each scored one. The Left Behind series duo, LaHaye and Jenkins, also got the nod.
I would have paid to watch the video of this Literary Gang of Three narrow the list to just 100 morsels. Were there any fist fights or threatening emails? “Come on…Augustine and Chesterton just have to be on the list—so I’m warning you, drop Antoine Saint-Exupery today! Who cares about The Little Prince—and why should we?”
But in the end…you’ll appreciate the inviting two to four-page reviews that will tempt your book budget at every turn. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones (no surprise: not on the list) preaches, “You are today what you’ll be five years from now, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Now I understand Erasmus who wrote, “When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.” Bon appetite!
To order this book from Amazon, click on the graphic below for Besides the Bible: 100 Books That Have, Should or Will Create Christian Culture, by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) In your opinion, what one book, besides the Bible, has influenced Christian culture the most?
2) Whether you’re a voracious reader or a reluctant reader, think back to a time in your life when the discipline of reading and life-long learning was at its peak. What habits did you leverage to be an effective reader (or listener) and learner?
Build Your Own Top-100 Book List - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Book Bucket, Chapter 5, in Mastering the Management Buckets is to create your own Top-100 books list—and share it with your colleagues.
For more resources on reading, including a template for your Top-100 list, plus my Top-20 books (one per bucket) and the updated list of over 200 book reviews (through June 14, 2011), visit the Book Bucket webpage.
JOIN US AT THESE WORKSHOPS AND WEBINARS!
--July 21, 2011 (Thursday) – Webinar: Your Church’s Core Values – Get the Plaque Off the Wall and Into the Drinking Water! (hosted by Cornerstone Church Network)
--Aug. 23, 2011 (Tuesday) – Webinar: 3 Core Competencies for God-honoring Church Governance with Steve Macchia, Dan Busby and John Pearson (hosted by ECFA)
--Sept. 8, 2011 (Thursday) – Webinar: Goal Alignment—The Missing Link in Leadership Effectiveness (hosted by The Mission Exchange)
--Sept. 23, 2011 (Tuesday) – Webinar: 3 Core Competencies for Nonprofit Ministry Governance with Steve Macchia, Dan Busby and John Pearson (hosted by ECFA)
--Sept. 17, 2011 (Saturday) – Nonprofit Board Governance Workshop (hosted by Town and Country Manor, Santa Ana, Calif.)
--Sept. 27-28, 2011 (Tues. & Wed.) – Mastering the Management Buckets Workshop Experience, (Orange County, Calif.)
--Oct. 6, 2011 (Thursday) – The Top-10 Hiring Mistakes (Orange County, Calif.)
--Oct. 7, 2011 (Friday) - Goal Alignment: How to Turbo-charge Your Organization by Focusing on S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Every Team Member, Board Member & Volunteer (Orange County, Calif.)
--Oct. 20, 2011 (Thursday) - 9 Governance Essentials for Nonprofit Ministries Forum, with Steve Macchia, Dan Busby and John Pearson (sponsored by ECFA and hosted by Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo.)