I am often asked by leaders I am coaching to point them to books that can really help them take their leadership to the next level. Here are some books that have helped me stretch and grow.
GIFT #1 – GETTING THINGS DONE!a book by David Allen. His simple, low tech style of rethinking how I organize e-mail, projects, meetings and a diversity of tasks has been liberating. His basic aim is to help you remove stress by downloading all the “to-dos” that take up mental RAM. He provides a very simple but very effective way to have an enlarged capacity for creative thinking (noodling on important stuff), while not ignoring the rest of stuff that demands some action. Even Pandora has noticed the decrease in my level of stress and sense of being overloaded.
Gift #2 – THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN: SOLVING PROBLEMS & SELLING IDEAS by Dan Roam. I have always been a visual learner. I gravitate toward simple diagrams and various other ways to organize my ideas and teach them to my students. Over the years my students, consulting churches, and leaders I am coaching have made fun of, but wanted to keep my “art work” scribbled on white boards or paper in our sessions together. But to be honest I had not attempted to sharpen this skill or even value it. I had even tried to replace it with flashy Power Point. Dan’s book gave me a simple pattern, and questions to use that would allow me to visually create solutions and ideas. It has changed my devotional journaling, my consulting and coaching process, and has taken my sermon and lesson plans for teaching to whole level of creative, fun and invigorating joy! When I combine using Getting Things Done (GTD) ideas on organizing my drawings with this new found freedom to search out blank (no line) writing pads and fill the pages — I sense a whole new level of developing and communicating ideas God is teaching me.
GIFT #3 – CHAMPAGNE FOR THE SOUL by Mike Mason. Mike takes his readers on a 90 day adventure he conducted to see if it was really possible to — “Rejoice In the Lord Always” and to see every day as “This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and REJOICE in it.” His short chapters are an exploration of JOY and the desire in God’s heart to give it to all of His children. I have coupled a study of JOY with some fresh intentionality of practicing spiritual disciplines of — praying and reading the Bible OUT LOUD. For example: It takes 15 minutes to read Psalm 119 out loud. I lay down my pencil and just read. I let God’s Word about His Word wash over me convincing my heart with wave after wave of stanzas of the bread and goodness of His Word for me.
Another example: Take Psalm 63 and read it OUT LOUD four times. And then follow the repetitions with quiet before God seeking to let my soul seek Him as the psalmist describes.
While visiting New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York in April pastor Pete Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Church and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, reminded me of God’s teaching on Sabbath (24 hours of REST – not producing) every seven days. He encouraged me to receive it and enjoy it as a gift from the loving hand of my Father. And taking God at His Word in that one area has given me a fresh JOY that lightens the load of the other 6 days. And YES — I actually am convinced I am getting more done — better — when I respect and enjoy living in the limits God has given me. (see my post on Sabbath as a Snow Day! for more)
MY CONCLUDING THOUGHT As I have unwrapped these gifts that came into my life through a recommendation of one my former students (Getting Things Done), an article in a business magazine (Back of The Napkin), a dear friend (Champagne for The Soul), and a visit with a pastor in New York I am now CONVINCED that God loves me so much he will use a hundred different ways to touch my heart and get my attention to respond to my restless heart that was seeking Him and His kingdom.
And He reminded me — “Relax my son, I will use you. I am FOR you. Just walk with, love, trust and enjoy me — RIGHT NOW. Live in this PRESENT MOMENT! Yes, remember and learn from the past. And lean into the future with excitement and faith. But anchor your focus in the PRESENT. I will give you right NOW what you need for TODAY. Let me be your daily bread.”
It is good!