My friend Glenn is one of the smartest people I know. With ACT, SAT, GRE percentiles in the upper 90s (some portions in the 99th percentile), I am an intelligent person. When I am with Glenn, I am reminded that I am only down at the bottom of the 99th percentile, because he outsmarts me by a bunch. Glenn says that he knows plenty of people who are smarter than him, and I suppose they all know smarter people too, until you get up to the Albert Einsteins and Henry Kissingers up at the top.
Glenn, a PhD biochemist, plans on reading the Bible cover to cover four times this year. I suspect that he is able to do this with a high level of focus and understanding. In addition, Glenn read 131 other books last year, with a goal of reading 110 this year. Because of this, Glenn can talk intelligently about a wide range of topics: the Bible, teaching the Bible, politics, the family, or feeding the world.
Glenn doesn’t read just to boost his ego. He reads for the glory of God, the building up of the body of Christ, and to excel in the workplace.
He wrote about his reading habits today on his excellent blog, Be Bold, Be Gentle: Learning Faster — The Great Need. Here are a few quotes:
In addition to regular, deep time in the Word of God, teachers, pastors, and leaders need to be students of life.
Now I strongly believe that Christians should be the best learners and thinkers on the planet — we have the Mind of Christ! But it is often not so.
Are these extraordinary, superhuman accomplishments? Absolutely not! They are well within the range of most adults.
What sets great teachers, pastors, and leaders apart on the learning scale is
* they know what they need to learn, and why
* they understand what learning really is, and have mastered the practices of learning
* they apply what they learn (because the point of learning is not knowing, it’s doing)
Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Not all of us will read the Bible four times in one year, but I suspect that most Christians don’t even read the New Testament once in a year.
- We don’t all have to read 131 books per year, but I suspect that most of us could read more than we do.
- Glenn has reading goals: “they know what they need to learn, and why.” I have some reading goals, but I think I could strengthen them.
- Glenn knows what works for him. What works for you or I might be different than what works for Glenn. Do you know the best ways for you to learn?
- Glenn is a doer. He takes what he reads and applies it.
- Selectivity is important. I have 86 books in my Amazon shopping cart “to buy later” section. I have unread books here at home (I can’t say on the bookshelves; we’re still living out of boxes after our move from Romania last year). What are the most important books for me to be reading, in terms of ministry, family, work, and knowing God better?
- Not everyone is called to an intellectual vocation (though again, I suspect most of us need to be readers with clear objectives). Romans 12:3-10 applies to all in the church:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (NIV)
And let him who studies, do it diligently for the glory of God and the good of people.
Thanks, Glenn. I’m inspired.
Grace and Peace