6 Benefits of Reading for Personal Growth

Why You Need to Read

The benefits of reading will do more for your personal growth than almost anything else. I caught the reading bug when I was quite young. It happened when my neighbor, Connie, loaned me The Tower Treasure. It’s book one in the Hardy Boys series. I read it in two hours and went back to see her for book two. A couple of my early ministry mentors also drilled the need to read into my DNA. I am forever grateful to Rev. David Grubbs and Rev. Forrest Plants for their encouragement to read.

The Go Commission Benefits of Reading

These days my shelves are overflowing with books. My wife gives me “that look” every time a new package comes from Amazon. But, I would not be able to accomplish all I do if I had not developed a reading habit.

Benefits of Reading

I was listening to the Ray Edwards Podcast the other day. He detailed a good list of the benefits of reading. I’ve adapted it and added a few of my own to the list.

Reading helps keep you current.

Pastors need to be able to see the culture, identify issues relevant to the church, and help congregants know how to exercise their faith in response.

Reading provides material for your communication responsibilities.

Pastors constantly speak and write. Reading will help you do both at a higher level.

Reading books exercises your brain. 

My 8th grade science teacher, Doug Bench, has spent countless hours studying the brain. These days he’s known as “The Brain Training Guy.” His research shows that learning something new every day helps keep the brain healthy into old age. Reading widely in different genres will give your brain the exercise it needs.

The folks at Serious Reading agree: “Studies have shown that reading has strong positive effects on the brain. By staying mentally stimulated, you can prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is because, keeping your brain active prevents it from losing power. The brain is a muscle and like other muscles in the body, exercise keeps it strong and healthy. Similar to solving puzzles, reading books is a great way to exercise your brain and keep it healthy.”

Reading expands your worldview.

We need to see the world from other people’s perspectives. Books like Donna Thomas’ Become a World Changing Family and Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner did that for me. Of course, there are many more substantive books you could choose that will help expand your worldview.

Reading stimulates new ideas. 

I love new ideas that come to me as I read.

Reading reduces stress.

The UK Telegraph stated that “Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds, according to new research.”


What are you reading?


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Manage Your Calendar So It Doesn’t Manage You

How Calendar Rules Help You Stay on Track

The skill and discipline to manage your calendar is an essential leadership tool. I don’t know any pastor who feels like they are accomplishing everything they wish they could. Our to-do lists are often endless and they start over every Monday. How often have your felt like your calendar was managing you rather than you maintaining the ability to manage your calendar? Calendar rules will help.

The Go Commission Manage Your Calendar

This article is a repost of  classic content.

My pastor taught me to divide the day into three sections for morning, noon, and night. His philosophy was to work 14 of those sections and take 7 of them off. It’s a rule that ensures that we balance rest and work. But, it doesn’t address all the things we need to work through to be sure our calendar doesn’t manage us.

Al Ells, of Leaders That Last Ministries, introduced me to the idea of calendar rules. Calendar rules are boundary statements that help us manage our calendar. Ells defined calendar rules as “a discipline that guides your time.” After listening to him, I realized that I have some calendar rules. But, I hadn’t called them that or thought them through in the way he presented them.

One of the calendar rules that I have is to get out of town once per quarter. It might be a vacation, an out of town meeting, or a trip to visit family. Keeping this rule helps me release the stress of my day to day responsibilities.

Another rule I follow is to use all my vacation each year. I’ve known too many pastors who work continually and burn themselves out. One retired pastor I know had a rule that he never socialized on Saturday evening. He used the time to relax and prepare his mind for the heavy responsibilities on Sunday.

Ells suggested that calendar rules can be written for during the week, weekends, quarterly, annually, phone calls, email, social media, games, weddings, baptisms, and funerals. You might want to develop rules about sermon preparation, meetings, community service, or study.

You have more to do than you can get done. Calendar rules will help you keep your priorities and your sanity.

Click Here for the Calendar Rules Worksheet

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Protecting Sunday Mornings

A Guest Post by Rev. James L. Sparks

Protecting Sunday mornings is a challenging responsibility for any pastor. Managing people is often a distraction from more important things. It’s even worse when what Marshall Shelley calls “Well-Intentioned Dragons” show up, too. This description from the book by that title makes it clearer. “Every church has sincere, well meaning Christians who leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They don’t intend to be difficult; they don’t consciously plot destruction or breed discontent among the members. But they often do undermine the ministry of the church and make pastors question their calling.”

The Go Commission Protecting Sunday Mornings Guest Post

I hope you enjoy this guest post by Rev. James L. Sparks, Pastor Emeritus of North Avenue Church of God, Battle Creek, Michigan, as he share how he went about protecting Sunday mornings.

The lady approached me with her finger wagging in my face and I knew I was in for a lecture. It was a Sunday morning with only a few minutes before I was due to meet with the worship team and enter the sanctuary. It was very tempting to pretend I didn’t see her, but I was an instant too slow and she began her tirade. “Dennis just walked past me and didn’t even speak to me,” she said. “I want you to tell him not to ignore people.”

Now I was faced with a problem. It was easy to say, “Yeah, sure,” and walk away, but she needed to learn a lesson, so I said, “Dennis is our Children’s Pastor. It’s Sunday morning and he’s probably doing his job: caring for children. Unless you’re three feet tall or smaller, he’s being paid to ignore you in order to focus on children.” I paused. “Not everything is about you.”

I leaned over, kissed her cheek, and said, “Now I have to gather for my thoughts for worship. I suggest you do the same.” And I walked away.

I can’t count the times my mentor reminded me of the importance of Sundays. He had me memorize the mantra: “A preacher who approaches the pulpit without meticulous preparation of himself and his message is guilty of a blasphemous dereliction of duty.” As preachers, who are also pastors, guard our approach to that task zealously. And it’s not always easy.

One Sunday morning, the praise team was leaving the chancel and I picked up my Bible and prepared to preach. A young lady in the praise team leaned into my ear and said, “I want to talk to you this week.” I quietly said, “Just call me for an appointment.” Then, as she passed by, she said, “I want to tell you why I’m leaving the church.”

The next words out of my mouth were supposed to be the opening words of the sermon. But I couldn’t speak for several minutes. I was flabbergasted. When she later called and came in to see me, I told her why her remark was not only unkind, but rude.

Here’s my point: people need to be taught. No person enters a group knowing the rules of community; a club, a school, a group…or a church. Far too many folks have been allowed to speak without understanding how their words affect others. They need to be taught.

I’m not convinced that every person needs to be confronted about every inappropriate behavior, but the pastor who doesn’t protect himself and his congregation during the act of worship is “guilty of a blasphemous dereliction of duty.”

Share your comments about about protecting Sunday mornings in the comments below or in our Facebook Group.

Plan for the Unexpected

Your church depends on you in a lot of ways. The smaller the church the more that may be true. There are responsibilities that you handle each week that no one else is prepared to do. What happens when you are suddenly unavailable? You need a plan for the unexpected.

Plan for the Unexpected. Delegation. The Go Commission.

It was on a Friday afternoon when I went from feeling great to intense pain in about a second. I finished the one last task that had to be done that day and went home. The pain made the trip with me and didn’t go away. The next morning Linda drove me to the emergency room. It was clear that I wasn’t going home.

Fortunately, I wasn’t scheduled to preach the next day, so my stress about being absent from church on Sunday wasn’t quite so high. But, my diagnosis made it clear I wouldn’t be working for a week or more. (It turned into “more.”)

Put yourself in my situation. What happens on Sunday if you are suddenly unable to attend? Let me offer three questions to get you started on your plan for the unexpected.

What do you handle every week that no one else can do?

Take out a legal pad and list the things you do that must be done on a weekly basis. The list should contain only the tasks necessary to keep the church functioning. It will include things like preaching, teaching, worship leading, and so forth. But, for many pastors it will also contain responsibilities like pastoral care, key administrative tasks, PowerPoint preparation, worship planning and a lot more.

Which responsibilities would be easy to hand off quickly?

Admit it. Some of the things on your list would be easy to delegate. There are people who have the skills and willingness to handle them. They are on your list because you like doing them.

At the points where this is true of you, you are the roadblock to leadership development in your church.

Start your plan for the unexpected by handing off one thing on your list this week. Identify the task and match it to a person who can carry it out.

Are you praying for the right people?

It might be that you don’t have the right people to hand specific leadership responsibilities. Why not focus your prayers by turning your responsibilities list into a prayer list?

Early in my ministry I served First Church of God in Hickory, North Carolina as Minister of Music and Youth. One of my responsibilities was to direct the adult choir. We were overjoyed when a Ramona, a strong soprano singer, started attending and joined the choir.

It wasn’t long before Betty Plants, the pastor’s wife, casually mentioned that she had been praying for a soprano to come. Ramona was an answer to her prayer. She deepened my prayer life with that simple revelation.

You never know when events will suddenly make you unavailable. Don’t let you church flounder in your absence. It can flourish if you plan for the unexpected.


What essential task will you hand off this week?