You will never be a great man of God unless you keep learning in the Christian life. I’m talking about learning outside of the weekly sermon and daily Bible reading we’ve already talked about.
In addition to the traditional way of learning through Christian books, there are many ways to learn today – eBooks, audiobooks, blogs, online courses, podcasts, online sermons, and so on.
The key here as with all areas of life is routine and keeping it small. It’s far better to learn a little a day rather than try to study for hours one night and then do nothing for weeks. If you can build learning into your daily life in the ordinary course of life, over time you will learn a lot more than extraordinary one-off efforts.
I suggest 15-30 minutes a day ideally at the same time each day. John Piper (also here) estimated that reading 15-20 mins a day will get you through about 20 average sized books in a year. Another way is to listen to audio-books, sermons, podcasts during your commute.
Try to set yourself a reasonable target when you read. This will depend on the nature of the book, but try to figure out how many pages you can read in 5 mins and then make sure every 5 minutes that you are keeping up the pace. Don’t be afraid to skim parts where there is limited new content.
You should vary your reading in the following categories:
- Christian biography to learn about great men of the past.
- Theology to teach and instruct (Systematic, Biblical, NT, OT Theology)
- Devotional books to warm the heart
- Apologetics to help you defend the faith
- Commentaries to help you know your Bible
- Practical Theology to help you practice the Bible
Another category is leadership books. You should try to read at least one good book on leadership every year. There are many good Christian books on this subject, but also many non-Christian books which you can read with a Christian worldview and learn much from.
Find a way of preserving the fruits of what you read. I prefer to use the Kindle because I can mark the quotes I really like and then later go on to the Kindle notes section on the Internet and copy and paste all my favorite quotes into a Word document for future reference. Or you can stay in the dark ages and use an index card and paper filing system. The key is to find a way to preserve what you’ve learned for future use.
Action: Buy a book
Buy a book. You are much more likely to read a book you actually put some money into. Go to Challies.com book recommendations or go to my Top 10 Book recommendations, buy a book and start a reading plan. Set aside 15 mins a day at the same time each day and read 10-15 pages each time. You will get through most books within a month. Then buy another and do the same. That will be more than twelve books a year.
Real Men Study.
- How many hours a week on average have you devoted to learning about the Christian faith in the past year?
- How many minutes a day are you going to devote to learning about the Christian faith and when will that learning period be in your day?
- What are the first five books, audiobooks, podcasts, or sermons you are going to read going forward?
- Who is going to keep you accountable?