Tony Reinke is part man, part reading machine.
He also happens to be assistant to C.J. Mahaney and friend to me. He blogs, dads (verb meaning “to dad”), husbands, and most importantly, passionately follows Jesus. I like hanging out with Tony.
As I mentioned earlier, Tony reads. A lot. More than me. And probably more than you.
Because I want to learn from Tony, and I want you to learn as well, I asked Tony to answer three questions about reading. Here they are:
Why should the average Christian, who works a hard job and comes home really tired, bother with reading books beside the Bible?
The short of it: Christians walk by faith and not by sight. We build our lives on spiritual truth, truth we can only know through words. We know that God is holy because that truth is written for us. But we live in a world that is saturated by images that can’t communicate unseen realities. This doesn’t mean that images and pictures have no value, but it does mean that the written word is a priority for Christians.
And history shows that words succumb to the visual. In the Garden of Eden Eve saw the fruit shimmer in the sun and ignored God’s words. Later the newly exiled people of God melted their gold earrings into a calf at Sinai (note the emphasis from the ear to the eye). Later the nation of Israel ran after visual pagan idols and were defeated by their enemies and sent into exile for it (2 Kings 17).
Part of being faithful to God is maintaining a priority on the written word and remaining aware of visual temptations. This conviction keeps me reading my Bible, and other books, even when I’m tired and would rather watch TV.
How would you encourage a person who knows that they should read more but just doesn’t like to read?
Reading is too often assumed to be an isolated discipline. I would encourage them to find someone in the church that enjoys reading, and read a good book together. The books I most appreciate are the ones that I have read with others, and often the sections that have most impacted my life are the ones that I have read aloud with friends or heard quoted in a sermon. Reading in the context of community is an often powerful and untapped resource for encouraging reading. And once I experienced the benefits of reading with others I more easily tapped into the benefits of reading alone.
So often I forget what I read or struggle to understand it. How can people get more out of the books they read?
The books I have benefited from most are the books I have read for specific answers. Too often I approach reading passively and I read with no clear purpose in mind. Find one area of life that you want to improve, write a list of 20 questions that you have and want answered, ask someone for a book recommendation, and then read for the purpose of answering your questions. This seems to help me benefit from the books I choose to read. And of course this helps me determine what books not to read.
BONUS: If you could be a ninja, Jedi, or NASCAR driver, which would you pick?
Being a Nebraska boy I am automatically disqualified from two options. That makes the picking pretty easy.