Archives For Books & Quotes

What a year 2017 was! Media, culture, the relentless pace of change, politics, gender identity, #metoo, race, privilege, the awe of a total eclipse, the devastation of Harvey (both the hurricane and Mr. Weinstein) and Irma. These issues clamored for and fragmented our attention. Questions were many, and satisfying answers were in short supply. My mind raced trying to keep up; to make sense of the shrill and deafening attempts at dialog. I found myself pulling back from social media (odd for a digital strategist), turning off all the notifications on my phone, and praying to Jesus for wisdom.

My word for 2017 was humility. Humility invites. It defers. It honors others by listening well before formulating and communicating my opinions on a subject. Humility learns from another. Humility accepts limits. Humility rests secure in displacement, injustice, and personal dishonor. Humility opens doors for fruitful service.

With that context, I offer in no particular order these 15 books God used to shape my thinking, expand my perspective, and humble my proud heart in 2017:

  1. Awe! Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say and Do, by Paul David Tripp (audio book)
  2. Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, by Carolyn Custis James
  3. A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard. This is an audio book of Dr. King’s actual speeches, delivered by him. Spellbinding.
  4. Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jennifer Frank
  5. Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Bryan Lorritts
  6. The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God through Prayer, Wisdom and Silence, by Henri Nouwen
  7. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, by Nicholas Carr
  8. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith
  9. Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, by Frederick Buechner
  10. Radical Candor: How to be a Kick A** Boss without Losing Your Humanity, Kim Scott (audio book)
  11. Leap Over A Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians, by Eugene Peterson. This is a fantastic study of the life of David, a hidden gem from one of my favorite authors.
  12. Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, by Hannah Anderson
  13. Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in an Age of Acceleration, by Thomas Friedman (audio book)
  14. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard (audio book)
  15. Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness, by Andrew Murray

And why isn’t the Bible on your list, some may ask? I read and study the Bible daily. It is much more than a book, and belongs in its own category. For me, God’s Word is light and life, oxygen and water, bread and meat. It challenges, convicts, illumines, sustains, encourages and transforms.

What books shaped you in 2017?

What I’m Reading in 2017

January 17, 2017 — 4 Comments
Leaders are readers. Readers are leaders.

For the past 15 years I have made a habit of setting aside one week every six months devoted to reading. I gather recommendations from friends, colleagues, news articles, conferences, and voices I respect in various fields of interest. Those recommendations go on my Trello board entitled “Reading and Research.” During a typical reading week I’ll survey the lists, and move a handful of books from “Recommended” to “READING.”

Here are the books I am reading now or planning to read in the first part of 2017:

Reading Now:
You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K.A. Smith
“What do you want?” This was Jesus’ opening question in many of his conversations. Could discipleship – truly following Jesus – be more about what we want than what we know? This book was the runner up in Christianity Today’s “Best of 2016” book list, behind Beautiful Orthodoxy. I read Beautiful Orthodoxy last year and bought copies for my kids for Christmas. I don’t do that with many books. I recommend both books very highly.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson (audible version)
If it’s legal drama you want, forget John Grisham’s fiction. Stevenson brings us inside the actual cases, injustices, frustrations and cruelties of America’s racially imbalanced legal system. I find my mind opening and my heart aching for my country. This book has won multiple awards and has a well-earned 5-star rating on Amazon. Must read for anyone seeking to understand why Black Lives Matter. 

Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in a Digital Culture, by Heidi Campbell and Stephen Garner
If you’re involved in digital ministry you will appreciate the theological grounding Campbell and Garner provide. It’s a bit heady at times, but the chapters on “Theology of Technology 101” and “Networked Religion: Considering how Faith Is Lived in a Network Society” were worth the price for me. My team has been exploring the shifts we need to help our organization move from hierarchies to empowered networks. The authors explain how five key traits define networked religion: networked community (loose ties with varying levels of affiliation and commitment), storied identity (how people portray themselves to others via social and new media), convergent practice (e.g. how prayer and study habits have become increasingly self-directed), shifting authority (from pastors and credentialed gatekeepers to those with the largest internet followings), and multisite reality (recognizing that the online-offline distinction has been forever blurred).

Awe, by Paul Tripp (audible version)
“You don’t have a ______ problem, you have an awe problem,” writes Tripp. That blank can be filled with any pursuit, achievement, experience, or material good that captivates the human heart. What we are all seeking is awe. And only God can sustainably deliver awe for the human heart. I’m about halfway through this one and really appreciating Tripp’s personal illustrations, penetrating questions and biblical insights that challenge my idolatrous blindspots.

The Inevitable: Understanding 12 Technological Trends That Will Shape Our Future, by Kevin Kelly
Kelly takes us on a tour ten to 30 years into our technological future. Most of these trends are well underway today. I have a colleague, Aaron, on my team that is always talking about future trends stretching over the horizon, and then one to two years later I find myself reading about what Aaron mentioned. Reading Kelly’s book feels like I just finished a 24-hour coffee conversation with Aaron: stimulated, perplexed, curious and intrigued about the implications of digital tech and artificial intelligence on real people. Highly recommended for leaders and strategists responsible for future planning.

The Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert Coleman (reread for the umpteenth time)
Last Saturday morning I sat down and reread this classic. It’s a two coffee read that packs a lifetime of wallop. This is in my top five recommendations of formative books on the mentality — and intentionality — of raising up men and women who yearn to follow Jesus and take his message to the ends of the earth.

Up Next:
The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change, by Bharat Anand
Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multi-sided Platforms, by David Evans and Richard Schmalensee
The Church as Movement: Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities, by JR Woodward and Dan White

Leaders are readers. Readers are leaders.

What’s on the top of your reading list for 2017?

My Holiday Reading List

December 15, 2015 — 9 Comments

Whew! The past few months have flown by. On December 8, our global digital strategies, operations, products and services teams marked the 100th day since significantly restructuring. To everyone’s credit, we’ve seen a surge of early wins in product release speed, quality of our digital offerings, analytics dashboards, and most importantly, a much richer stakeholder engagement process. We still have a long way to go.

It’s been an exciting and demanding time. In spite of the pace, I don’t find myself tired or fatigued. Rather, my soul is hungry for richer fare than articles on best practices in digital maturity. This week I am beginning to taper my schedule to allow for a season of reflection.

Over the next few weeks here’s what I’ll be reading (or re-reading):

  1. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller
  2. Relational Leadership: A Biblical Model for Leadership Service by Walter C. Wright
  3. Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner
  4. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer
  5. The Contemplative Pastor and Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity by Eugene Peterson
  6. Leadership by James MacGregor Burns

How do you pull away and reflect? What’s on your reading list?