The average preacher in America finds himself short on time. While I do appreciate the counsel of other preachers such as Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, and others like them who recommend preparing 15-20 hours per sermon, I simply do not have that luxury. I not only pastor a church of around 170-180 in attendance, I teach a Senior Bible Class at Blue Grass Baptist School, I am a doctoral student at Southern Seminary, and have a wife and four children. My only other staff person at my church is my minister of music and youth.
I introduce this post this way to show that many preachers (especially those of us in small or smallish churches) are pressed for time. So the question is, do we have time to read not only things unrelated to our sermon preparation, but also things unrelated to our particular worldview? Call it a comfort zone, but the majority of us neglect or even resent reading anything other than what reinforces what we already believe. I find myself guilty of that as well. I avoid them because on occasion they make me upset due to their heretical teachings or misspeaks, but mainly the issue is time.
This past weekend, I forced myself to read a bit of Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven (click here to read some of my thoughts on this book) and Joyce Meyer’s Be Anxious for Nothing. I would not read books by these authors normally for various reasons. So why read them?
Because many folks in my congregation read them. First Peter 5:1-5 says:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.  Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
I mentioned in an earlier post that “Preachers should be the most well-read individuals on the planet.” I am becoming more and more convinced of this. Paul asks young Timothy, “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13, ESV). Even with the number of situations in which Paul found himself, he still understood the necessity of a pastor branching out his reading to various areas.
The newly minted Sovereign Grace Leadership Interview Series podcast debuts with this very subject. What Mahaney recommends is taking two or three days for reading and refreshment. This is a priceless idea.
But what should a pastor with limited time read? Anything to prioritize? Stay tuned to this blog. But even so, I would love some feedback on what all of you would recommend.