Change is constantly happening.
That is why we can say the above quote shared by Dave Ramsey on Instagram is incorrect. Time, experience, and other forces of life are at work in and around us. No one stays the same.
Yet, these forces are often indifferent to who we would like to become. They are simply the result of life.
The point of the quote and what I think we should all consider, is that we are not going to become the person we want to be without intentional effort. If we just go along with the flow of life, we will experience change, we will be different, but we probably aren’t moving closer to the goals we have for our lives.
Two of the greatest influences we have in life that are able to determine that direction of our lives are what we learn (reading was the primary source of learning a generation ago, it is not longer the case) and the people we are around.
Reading books, listening to podcasts, watching lectures, and hearing sermons all have the power to direct our thoughts and to get us thinking in ways that we wouldn’t on our own. When we seek to go in a specific direction in our lives it pays to hear from people who have already gone done that path. To neglect the discipline of learning means we will miss out on reaching our full potential.
This is why the New Testament tells us direct our thoughts (Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:1-4, 1 Peter 1:13). To change our worldview and our behavior we first have to change our thoughts.
We are going to be thinking, it is one of the things God designed our minds to do, and so we have a great responsibility to direct what we are thinking about. Don’t just passively allow the news, social media, and entertainment direct your thoughts. Instead, be intentional about what you put into your mind to think about so we can become more like the person you want to be.
If you are looking for a good book to read here are some recommendations:
- Reading the Bible: When it comes to reading the Bible, here are two books I have found helpful: Scripture and the Authority of God by N. T. Wright and The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight. They are similar books in that they challenge us to examine the ways in which we read and interpret Scripture. N.T. Wright wants us to see Scripture as the way God works in and through us. Scot McKnight seeks to have us read through the lens of the Bible being God’s story.
- Productivity: Here are two books about productivity/getting the most out of your time. Deep Work by Cal Newport and the Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. Deep Work (which is in my top 10 books people should read) focuses on the importance of regularly working distraction free, because distractions prevent us from truly getting the most out of our mental energy. The Slight Edge has a lot of content that is transferable to task of discipleship. The key is to develop little disciplines that help you accomplish your goals.
- Church ministry: Wondering how the church can enter into a new time of ministry after Covid? Two books I have found helpful are Recalibrate Your Church by Dr. Troy Jones and Analog Church by Jay Kim. Recalibrate Your Church looks at the necessity of creating a church culture that is willing to evaluate and change the ministry of the church to impact the community. Analog Church, which is in the top 5 books I have read this year, looks at the importance community and relationships in following Jesus.
- Leadership: Leadership is a tricky thing and we constantly need teaching and encouragement on how to do it. Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is a good book for pastors, because it reminds us that our leadership requires a connection with God. John Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You is a classic book that focuses on the practical things we should pay attention to in our leadership.
- Following Jesus: Here are three short books that provide a greater insight into what it means to follow Jesus. Imminent Domain by Ben Witherington looks at God’s Kingdom and our place in it. Life in Christ by John Stott explores how we are connected to Jesus. Following Jesus by N. T. Wright explains what it means to follow Jesus.
- Prayer: How about prayer? Here are three I have benefited from reading: With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray (one of my favorite authors), Moving Mountains by John Eldredge, and Seeing is Believing by Greg Boyd. With Christ in the School of Prayer is divided up into 31 lessons (a month long) that conclude with a sample prayer. Moving Mountains provides an encouragement to pray as well as some ideas of how to pray (Daily prayer, praying Scripture, Warfare Prayer). Seeing is Believing focuses on using our imagination in prayer, especially as we seek healing and restoration.
Start being intentional about the person you are becoming. Read a book, listen to a lecture, and hang out with the right people. These are intentional actions that will point us in the direction we need to go.