My friend and mentor Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was known for saying, “You will be the same person you are today five years from now except for two things; the people you meet and the books you read.” I believe he was right. In memory of Charlie, I want to share the books that have had the greatest impact on me. Of course, it goes without saying that the Bible has had the most impact on me. I will periodically update this list so be sure to check back from time to time. They are in no particular order.
Let Go, Fenelon (Whittaker House, 1973). This short little book written by François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, more commonly known as François Fénelon (6 August 1651 – 7 January 1715), is full of wisdom of the rarest kind. It is a collection of 40 short letters that he wrote to people he was actively discipling. It is amazing how relevant they are today. While each letter is short (1-3 pages), they are very deep, and make great devotional reading. Best savored slowly! I highly recommend this book.
Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards (Yale University Press, 2009, paperback ed.). Jonathan Edwards (1703-1757) is recognized as one of the most important pastors in American history and the greatest mind America has to her credit. This book, written in the aftermath of the Great Awakening, is a great biblical study of the nature of genuine Christian spirituality. One of hot topics today is church health. This book, written in 1746, is in my estimation, better than most of the books out there on this subject today. Edwards can be a challenge to read, but this book is one I have read over and over and over again. It is a book I wish every christian would read.
Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press, 2004, paperback ed.). While I’m on the subject of Edwards, this is the best biography on him I have read….and I have read several. It is a very well written biography. If you want to read more of Edwards, this is a great place to go.
Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, John Piper (Multnomah Books; Reviesed and expanded edition, 2011). This is a must read book. The love of the world is very me-centered and driven almost completely by emotion. In response to this, the common teaching about love from the church today is that love is selfless and is not at all based in feelings. Piper shows that the Bible disagrees with both of those views. The love God has and wants us to have is not selfless, but un-selfish–its is a love that finds its happiness in the happiness of others. I have given away scores of this book over the last 20 years. It is soaked in Scripture and packed with a depth of wisdom that is rare in books today. This is not a book that most people will be able to read quickly, it is best savored slowly!
Lead Like Jesus: Lessons From the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time, Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges (Thomas Nelson, 2008, paperback ed.). I have read dozens of books on leadership. This is my favorite by far. In my opinion it is hands down the best book on leadership from the Christian perspective. Blanchard and Hodges have written a powerful book that is both very accessible and personally challenging. They are unabashedly scriptural in their approach but do not get caught up in “christianese” that can be a stumbling block to non-christians or new christians and a temptation to gloss over ideas that are familiar to more mature christians. This book is required reading for people I am mentoring and discipling. I highly recommend it.