Recently I came across a post about the most influential books from some key Christian leaders. It got me thinking about those books that have deeply impacted me and what I would recommend for others to read. As with most thoughts, this is what came to mind right now, though I am sure at other seasons of life I would pick out other ones.
Just as a sample from the other leaders, here is what a few of them mentioned when asked about influential spiritual books, novels, and biographies:
1. Eugene Peterson- a. Karl Barth- Epistle to the Romans, b. Dostoyevski- The Brothers Karamazov & The Idiot, c. Herman Melville- Moby Dick, ….
2. Charles Swindoll- a. J.I. Packer- Knowing God, b. John Bunyan- The Pilgrim’s Progress, c. A.W. Tozer- The Pursuit of God, d. J. Oswald Sanders- Spiritual Leadership
3. Chuck Colson- a. C.S. Lewis- Mere Christianity, b. St. Augustine- Confessions, c. Dostoyevski- The Brothers Karamazov, d. John Bunyan- The Pilgrims Progress
My list is more personal and subjective to how the books impacted me. I realize that a list should lean towards classics and monumental books, but I would rather point in honesty to those which shaped me, even if they are not the most critically acclaimed or stand the test of time.
Top Influential Books:
1. John Maxwell- Developing the Leader Inside You. After reading like crazy as a kid, I only read mandatory books from junior high. At 16 I discovered this book from my dad, which rekindled my love for reading. It sparked a desire to grow, learn, and become a person of integrity and influence.
2. C. S. Lewis- Mere Christianity. While not on most high school kid’s Christmas list, I asked for this my senior year of high school after seeing it mentioned by numerous people. One of Lewis’s finest books, in my opinion. This was one of the first books I read that helped me understand the Christian faith and defend it.
3. Kent Hughes- Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. As a young driven leader who had served at several megachurches, this book freed me from equating godly success with large numbers. While I remain driven and hope to reach as many people with the message of hope in Christ, I now weigh my life but other measurements, such as faithfulness, character, ….
4. Dale Carnegie- How to Win Friends and Influence People. I used to be a little embarrassed to tell people how much I loved this book. As a pastor, I am in the people business. While basic social etiquette, the stories and principles were memorable and insightful to really connect with others. One of the most quotable books ever.
5. Haddon Robinson- Biblical Preaching. My first and still favorite preaching book ever read (of at least 50). This book alone stirred my passion for preaching. It influenced my decision to go to Gordon-Conwell to study and even work with Haddon. My life and ministry would likely be very different had I moved elsewhere. A definite classic for preachers.
Top Novel: (Admit to not reading many novels. These are more ones I enjoy rather than ones that deeply impacted me)
1. Alexander Dumas- The Count of Monte Cristo. First book I read in French. 2. Shusako Endo- Silence. Historical fiction about Christian persecution in 17th century Japan. 3. Harry Potter series. Again, not list of classics but books I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Great story from start to finish.
1. David Livingstone (author unknown)- One of my missionary heroes, as a Scottish man pioneering through central Africa.
2. Lyle Dorsett- A Passion for Souls (DL Moody). My other ministry hero. The life and impact of Moody was one of the biggest factors in my desire to study at the school named after him. A great preacher, a passion for people, and a desire to make an impact for God through his life.