A Reading List for Pastors/Ministers for Personal Growth
I have never met Bro. Coburn but you can count on one thing, if I am ever in his “neck of the woods,” I am going to make it a point to stop and acquaint myself with him and his family. Bro. Griffin used to tell us that there were a whole lot of folks that we did not know who had not bowed a knee to Baal and that one of these days we would have the opportunity to meet them. I think that Bro. and Sis. Coburn and their church family probably fall into this category.
Anyway, Bro. Coburn mentioned that he had noticed the Power Supply Summer Reading List and thought that maybe a Summer/Fall reading list for Pastors/Ministers might be a good post. This little seed has been ruminating in my mind since Friday and I am going to start a small list of books that have helped me. Some of these books are like close friends because periodically I will pick them up and re-read the places that I dog-eared the page, wrote in the flaps or margins, or maybe something that I highlighted.
My first post will be directed toward personal growth in a minister’s life. I will not include specific books about prayer, revival, or other sorts of things because I want to save them for another segment on this blog.
Some of these books are out-of-print and you may have to look around on the internet to find these books. I will supply you with a few places to go to help you find used and out-of-print books. Here, here, and here are some good places to start. I have purchased material from here and did not have any difficulties with payment/shipping/etc.
The following books are books that have helped me grow. I add a disclaimer and want you to know that I cannot endorse all of the content of these authors. I always read with sifters and blinders and encourage you to do the same thing.
A Minister’s Opportunities -- Ralph Turnbull -- A treasure of motivation. Out of print. You will have to hunt for this one. Chapter Titles: The Certitude of Vocation, The Stewardship of Time, The Satisfaction of Study, The Tools of Learning, The Devotion of the Heart, The Beauty of Holiness, The Standard of Excellence, The Power of Ambition, The Sense of What Is Vital, and others.
A Minister’s Obstacles -- Ralph Turnbull -- A supreme treasury that promotes self evaluation and helps you see “blindspots.” Out of print, you will have to find this one. Chapter Titles: The Specter of Professionalism, The Vice of Sloth, The Dry-Rot of Covetousness, The Bane of Jealousy, The Paralysis of Pride, and others.
When Good Men Are Tempted -- Bill Perkins -- This was recommended to me by A. B. Keating who taught me in
Practical Wisdom for Pastors -- Curtis C. Thomas -- This little book is divided up into several sections: Personal Life, Family Life, Study Habits, Messages, Church Life, and others.
O Shepherd Where Art Thou? -- Calvin Miller -- Very thought provoking book that goes in the opposite direction of the thoughts and ideas that characterize the “bigness” of the church growth movement. Is a crowd a church? Is someone who sits on a pew a real disciple of Christ?
And the Shofar Blew -- Francine Rivers -- This book is fiction but it helps one see what happens when one’s personal life gets out of control and ambition and pride become the main force of ministry. This is a very troubling and thought-provoking book. You probably ought to read this book every 2-3 years to help you keep your feet on the ground.
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals -- John Piper -- This is another book that will help you to grow in your spirit. Chapter Titles: Brothers, We are Not Professionals; Brothers, God Loves His Glory; Brothers, Fight For Your Life; Brothers, Beware of Sacred Substitutes; Brothers, Let Us Pray; Brothers, Let the River Run Deep; Brothers, Sever the Root of Racism; and others.
Don’t Waste Your Life -- John Piper -- This is a book that deals with the real priorities of life and it’s main question of life. The main question of life: What are you spending your time on? Whatever you are spending your time on that is what you are spending your life on. Chapter Titles: My Search For a Single Passion to Live By, Living to Prove He Is More Precious than Life; Risk is Right—Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It; Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5, and others.
The Wounded Minister -- Guy Greefield -- This book deals with “healing from and preventing personal attacks.” Chapter Titles: Clergy Killers on the Loose; Pathological Antagonists in the Church; When Evil Invades the Church; The Minister’s Greatest Enemy: Passive Lay Leaders; Collateral Damage to the Church; Ministers Who Invite Attack; Recovering From Shattered Dreams; and others.
Escape From Church, Inc. -- Glenn Wagner -- This book encourages the return of the Pastor-Shepherd. Chapter Titles: The Neglected Model; God’s Portrait of a Shepherd; The Call of God; The Glory of Shepherds; and others.
Character Forged From the Conflict -- Gary D. Preston -- This book is in a series of books entitled “The Pastor’s Soul Series.” Chapter Titles: Forced Out; Staying Close; Playing Hurt; Resisting the Urge to Strike Back; Staying Balanced; When to Back Off; and others.
Stories About My
Pastors At Risk -- H. B. London and Neil Wiseman -- Another book that sets up the traps that derail those involved in ministry. Chapter Titles: Why Is Ministry So Tough Today?; What Sets The Agenda for Ministry?; Warning: Ministry May Be Hazardous To Your Marriage; Pursue Personal Holiness; and others.
Pastors At Greater Risk -- H. B. London and Neil Wiseman -- An updated issue of the previous book. More in-depth in dealing with more sinister difficulties. Chapter Titles: Ministry Keeps Getting Tougher; Who Decides What You Do?; Avoiding the Hazards of Ministry Marriage; God Made Your Wife Special; Help and Healing for Wounded Healers; and others.
They Call Me Pastor -- H. B. London and Neil Wiseman -- This book is a further relevant book about ministry. Chapter Titles: Offer a Holy Presence; Isn’t It Enough to Be Anointed?; Revival at the Grassroots; Treasures In Broken Vessels; Admit It—Change Is Scary; The Legacy You Leave; and others.
The Heart of a Great Pastor -- H. B. London and Neil Wisman -- Out of print. You can tell that I got on the London/Wiseman Express very early in my calling. This was actually the first L/W book that I purchased and read. Even after all these years, I still go back to it! All of the books that they have written have been useful tools for me. Chapter Titles: Every Assignment Is Holy Ground; Partnership with a Master Gardener; Bloom Where You are Planted; Energized By a Dream; Grow a Great Soul; and others.
The Making of a Man of God -- Alan Redpath -- If I had a dollar for every time an elder preacher recommended this book to me, I would have at least $50-75. This book is a storehouse of spiritual lessons. It basically traces through the life of David and his wanderings.
A Tale of Three Kings -- Gene Edwards -- This is another book that was highly recommended to me. We are all kings. We fall into one of three categories: Saul, David, or Absalom. The circumstances that we are faced with in life will develop the trail but we make the choice of what kind of “king” that we will become.
Restoring Your Spiritual Passion -- Gordon MacDonald -- This was the very first GM book that I read and it hooked me. . . way back in 1988. I have the majority of MacDonald’s books in my own personal library. This is a classic! Chapter Titles: It’s Got to Glow In You All the Time; Doing More and Enjoying It Less; Running on Empty; The Happy and the Hurting; Safe Places; The Still Times; and others.
Ordering Your Private World -- Gordon MacDonald -- This is one of the best books that helped me to grasp whether or not I was living for time or for eternity. It also opened me up to writing things in all of the “marble” notebooks that I have accumulated over the years. Chapter Titles: The Sinkhole Syndrome; The View from the Bridge; Has Anyone Seen My Time? I’ve Misplaced It; Recapturing my Time; The Sadness of a Book Never Read; Rest Beyond Leisure; and others.
The Life God Blesses -- Gordon MacDonald -- We have will have storms at some point in our lives, be prepared for them! Chapter Titles: Lost at Sea; Storms Happen; Quality of Soul; Questing for Spirituality; I Call It Soul Talk; and others.
The Bait of Satan -- John Bevere -- One of the best books that I have read in the last decade. How I respond to offenses in life will make me or break me. We all have to endure offenses for no one is immune from them. Chapter Titles: Me, Offended?; Massive Offense; How Spiritual Vagabonds Are Born; Hiding from Reality; Revenge: The Trap; and others.
Under Cover -- John Bevere -- This book deals with spiritual authority and how one responds to it. Whether we want to admit it or not, spiritual authority in our lives creates great accountability but it also creates great safety. Chapter Titles: It’s Hard to Kick Against the Goads; Sin Defined; The Consequences of Disobedience; What if Authority Tells Me. . . ; Odds and Ends; and others.
The Perils of Power -- Richard Exely -- This book is out of print. I personally think that this book should be required reading for every licensing candidate who is approaching a district board for accreditation. In fact, I believe that anyone who is in a position of leadership ought to be required to read this book. It opens up the avenues of deceit that Satan would love to destroy and disqualify a lot of ministers with. Exely was a member of the Assemblies of God when Jimmy Swaggart’s and Jim Bakker’s indiscretions and immorality were exposed. He wrote this timeless book as a response to their infidelity.
Living in Harmony -- Richard Exley -- This is an updated reprint of The Rhythm of Life. This is another classic Exley book. Chapter Titles: The Driven Person; The High Cost of Success; Work Isn’t the Enemy; A Brush with Burnout; Rest Isn’t a Four Letter Word; Old Friends and Good Books; A Gift and a Discipline; The Window of Eternity; Celebrate the Temporary; and others.
Deliver Me -- Richard Exley -- It is obvious that once I get on an author’s trail, if he is good, I have a tendency to purchase everything he has written. This book is subtitled “Spiritual Resources for Avoiding Temptation and It’s Consequences.” Instead of offering chapter titles, I am going to offer the section titles: The Truth About Temptation; The Three Faces of Temptation; The Seven Stages of Temptation; and others.
Soul Survivor -- Philip Yancey -- No writer troubles me as much as does Yancey. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with his books. There are times that I think he is a cynical sorehead and other times I think that he is a brilliant strategist. This book gives quick snapshots of biography of people who have shaped Yancey’s thoughts and ideas.
What’s So Amazing About Grace -- Philip Yancey -- Don’t start this book late at night because if you do, it will keep you up for a long time. Chapter Titles: A World Without Grace; Lovesick Father; Grace-Healed Eyes; Grace Avoidance; Mixed Aroma; and others.
Spiritual Leadership -- J. Oswald Sanders -- “It is not worn by promotion, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confession of sin, and such heart searching, and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold uncomplaining embrace of the cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but like Paul, by counting those things that are gain to us as loss for Christ. This is a great price, but it must be paid by the leader who would not be merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth, and in hell.” This is an excerpt. It is a very motivating book. This book is great in that it helps you to find the balance between human ambition and the legitimate conquest of the soul and that is becoming what God desires for us to be.
Lord Foulgrin’s Letters -- Randy Alcorn -- This book is a takeoff of The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. Instead of Screwtape writing to Wormwood, Lord Foulgrin is giving lessons to Squaltaint. It is modernized and to me a much more current reality of the subtle ways of the enemy of the soul. Letter 7 -- Moral Relativism and Your Sludgebag is worth the price of the book. “You don’t have to lead Fletcher into spectacular new sins that look good on your resume. Every day he remains in his present condition brings him slowly, surely, dependably-even if non-sensationally-closer to Hell. He doesn’t have to spray his office with fifty rounds of ammo to go to hell--he’s already going. Don’t tinker with him too much. Time’s on our side. Fletcher’s life is ticking down. When it expires, only one thing will matter--that he hasn’t come to know the Enemy.” This book was very stimulating reading.
The Walk – Michael Card – This book is out-of-print. The author walks through the final days of the life of one of his seminary professors. The book is full of wisdom about life. It also creates a sense of responsibility for the legacy that a man is leaving behind him. “The first thing I noticed about Bill was his walk. Every day, at precisely the same time, he would walk past my Hebrew class. His gait wasn’t quite a march; it wasn’t a run, either, though one click more and it might have been rightly called that.” . . . . . . “After we began walking regularly, Bill would say, ‘I walk with purpose’–his way of saying that his ridiculous pace was difficult for anyone to keep up with. His walk was a parable of his life, and through him or because of him, it would become the parable of my life as well.” Are you influencing someone like this??????
This ought to be enough to get your summer and fall going. I will spend some other sections giving books about Prayer, Revival, Preaching, Biography, Great Fiction, and other avenues. You have Bro. Coburn to thank for the idea for this list.