Read or Get Out

Another Oxford Club meeting for men lies just around the corner a week from Saturday. I just finished reading chapter 13, The Leader and Reading, in Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership.

In it the author cites the example of John Wesley as a model for leaders who wish to lead well.

John Wesley had a passion for reading and most of it was done on horseback. He rode sometimes ninety and often fifty miles in a day. He read deeply on a wide range of subjects. It was his habit to travel with a volume of science or history or medicine propped on the pommel of his saddle, and in that way he got through thousands of volumes. After his Greek New Testament, three great books took complete possession of Wesley’s mind and heart during his Oxford days. ‘It was about this time that he began the earnest study of “The Imitation of Christ,” “Holy Living and Dying” and “The Serious Call.” These three books became very much his spiritual guides.’ He told the younger ministers of the Wesleyan societies either to read or to get out of the ministry!

Apparently Wesley’s students had little doubt as to just where he stood on the importance of reading to the life of the pastor!

While I don’t recommend imitating Wesley’s example in a modern day version of reading while driving, there is something to be said about mastering some books thoroughly as opposed to reading widely alone.

Charles Spurgeon apparently agreed:

…master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and re-read them, masticate them, and digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times, and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, … Little learning and much pride come of hasty reading. In reading let your motto be “much, not many.”

C.H. Spurgeon, To Workers with Slender Apparatus, (Sword and Trowel, December 1873)

Brothers, I invite you to join us next Saturday, July 24, at 7 AM, at the church office, for discussion and prayer around these and other provocative thoughts concerning the leader and his time and his reading.

One response

  1. I used to think that being slow reader (as I most certainly am) was a curse, that I just couldn’t make quick progress through books. But I learned recently that, at least for me, quick reading often doesn’t yield same benefit as slower, thoughtful reading that allows one to digest and meditate on the authors arguments. I love that quote from Spurgeon, “much not many,” it gives guys like me hope. 🙂

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