For years I felt pressured to read everything. Inevitably, each year I would fall short. (Let’s face it… there is no possible way to read every single thing that is written, especially now that there are must-read blogs in addition to books, journal articles, magazines, etc.) Despite the sheer impossibility of the task, I still often felt guilty. There were books and authors, recommended by friends and colleagues, that I wanted to read; knew that I should read; but just couldn’t find the time/energy/willpower to read.
I was reminded of this today as I saw a tweet from Dave Fitch, in which he quoted Zizek. (For those who aren’t familiar with Zizek, what you need to know is that he is a social theorist of the highest order.) Zizek has long been on my list of must-reads. I’ve purchased The Essential Zizek, placed it on my ‘to be read pile,’ and have managed to somehow avoid turning so much as a page of Zizek’s one-thousand-plus page work.
While I’m being honest… Zizek isn’t the only ‘key author’ that I haven’t read. His book isn’t the only ‘must-read’ that I have setting on my shelf and/or floor collecting dust. Here are just a few of the others:
- Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church and Purpose Driven Life. (I’ve actually read small portions of each, but haven’t had the stamina or willpower to read more than a chapter of either.)
- N.T. Wright’s Paul: In Fresh Perspective.
- Tony Jones’ The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier.
- John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
- The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.
- Systematic Theology: An Introduction by Wayne Grudem.
As you can see, I’ve opted to list the ‘popular books’ that I’ve been told I need to read––for one reason or another––but haven’t. These are but a handful that are illustrative of the many, many more that I have also neglected to read.
At this point in life, ministry, leadership, and research this is something that I’m actually okay with. It’s a reality that I have made peace with. While it is important to be well-read and have knowledge about a variety of things, I am beginning to see that that one of the beautiful things about living and being in community with others is that we can share and profit from the knowledge that each person has. I, for example, can bring my knowledge of Christian history and theology to the conversation. There are others who can provide important insights regarding leadership and the development of leaders. Others can be incredibly insightful about the inner-workings of a car.
In short, each and every one of us––no matter how hard we try to prove differently––operate with limited knowledge. Even within our particular area(s) of expertise, our knowledge is often limited. And this is okay. If we recognize our limitations, we are then able to learn and grow as we trust others and rely upon them, and their particular areas of expertise/knowledgeability, to contribute to and further the conversation.
Incidentally, this is one of the things that I really love about Twitter, Facebook and blogs––each allow me to benefit from the wisdom of the crowds.1 On Twitter, Fitch provides me with key insights, easily digestible insights regarding Zizek. Christian Brady’s blog keeps me abreast of important developments Targum Ruth. Michael Hyatt keeps me informed about the issues surrounding leadership. I benefit from what they have read and hopefully (at least from time to time) people benefit from what I’m reading and learning.
If you would do me a favor, drop me a message in the comment section and tell me the name of an author or the title of a book that you have felt guilty for not reading.
- A great book if you haven’t read it. One that you should definitely add to your list and feel guilty about not reading. ↩