Books. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
President Harry S. Truman is the source of that quote, and most people would agree. There are people who read and never lead: they are probably great students, but ineffective teachers. And, there are functionally illiterate leaders (able to read, but – because of myriad excuses – choose not to do so) who rely on contemporary acquaintances for all of their insight, losing the chance to benefit from those who have come before them. The outliers do not dismiss the norm: leaders are readers.
The average American adult owns 200+ books; they read 12 last year. The Smithsonian poll in 2015 found that 27% read no books – none – the prior year. Reasons (excuses) abound, but the men and women whose influence on culture puts them up-front of the pack always have a book underway. The simplest test of real leadership is a simple question: “What are you reading right now?”
Books – in general – are treasures, but there are three books that rise above all others. In fact, they are the only books in your personal library that will make the transition from this life to the next. If these aren’t on the top of your stack – commanding attention, constantly – you’re at risk of missing the greatest leadership potential you could ever hope to exploit. What are the three titles?
Book #1: The Book of Truth. That’s not on the spline (that’s the edge of the book, visible when it’s on the shelf); the title on the Book of Truth is Bible. The author is God, and it should be on top of your stack. Most people (including self-confessed Christians) have never read it, in its entirety. God is the author, and your life cannot be transformed from human-like to God-like without its impact on you (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Theodore Roosevelt: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” If God’s Truth has not become your subliminal reality, you’ll be adrift in life.
Book #2: The Book of Life. That’s the abbreviated title for The Lamb’s Book of Life. It is referenced in John’s Revelation (6x); it is the only data base that really matters. It’s the list of people who have been redeemed from eternal damnation through the grace of God. I’m making an assumption: you’ve made Ephesians 2:8-9 your personal testimony, and have trusted Jesus to be your Savior on his terms, not yours. The offer he has made to buy you – and, me – out of sin has to be accepted without a counter; the terms are not subject to human negotiation. We embrace God’s Gospel as presented… or, we never realize its promise for forgiveness and life.
Book #3: The Book of Works. The Book of Truth provides the answers that will matter for eternity, beginning now. The Book of Life is the guest list for Heaven, and no one gets in without being on that list. Both of those volumes are authored by God; this is the book that you’re writing, and you are the main character in this non-fiction tome. Every person – lost or saved – is authoring their own life story, and that record will be the basis for their final judgment. That leaves the Book of Works.
For the unredeemed, the entries in that journal will determine their degree of condemnation (Matthew 11:22-24; Revelation 20:11-12). For the redeemed, their works will determine the degree of commendation (1 Corinthians 10:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11). The basis for the Judge’s decision: he will rule based on what he finds written in the Book of Works.
The works that matter the most: those that result – directly, or indirectly – in the addition of names to the Book of Life. Every day I make decisions about the entries I’ll make to my own life story. Some will be redacted at the Judgment (the pursuits that have no eternal value); the ones that proved to be part of God’s Calling on my life will be rewarded. Redacted or rewarded: those are the only options.
What are you reading right now? What are you writing right now?