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I love books and I love reading. Maybe a little too much!

For me, it’s a hobby. People often ask me how I can read so many books, work, play, and raise a family. I really don’t have a good answer for that one. What I think people are actually saying is that they wish they could read more but don’t have the time. I feel ya.

I was actually that way too once. I was more of a do, do ,do and get the task list done kinda of leader. But I felt empty at the end of the day. I wanted to feel like I was growing. So I just started reading.

A few tricks I use to keep books in front of me are:

  • I have a few books next to my bed.
  • I have a few stacked next to my work computer.
  • I always leave one in my car.
  • I keep a Kindle in my back pocket.

So any place I am at, when I have a breathing moment, instead of hopping onto the world wide time sucker (my tongue-in-cheek name for the web), I read for at least 10 minutes. If the book or article catches my attention I keep reading for a time. If not, then I hop onto the web and catch up on what’s happening in the news or in my friend’s lives.

So to save you some time looking for good books, I have created a list of my top ten out of the hundreds and hundreds of books I have read over the last few years.

2016 TOP 10 LIST

One: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

This book might have saved my life. When you have to focus on being a minister, a husband, a charity leader, a dad, a son, a friend, a relative, a colleague…life gets crazy. Finding and doing what matters most is essential in the world of today. Read this book. Your sanity is worth it.

Two: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

I cannot say enough about how this book has helped me and dozens of others I have coached. Giving you the tools to have the most difficult conversations, and have them well, is indispensable in a leader’s library.

Three: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

I have read and re-read this book for over a decade. Each time I try to implement more of the process. I am a slow learner or I might be more productive today! But I have the book and I keep on keepin on. If you want to bring order out of chaos to your work and home life, this book is a must!

Four: Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg

I am pretty sure the title speaks on it’s own. If you gain the whole world, whether in the business, nonprofit, or church sector, but your soul is thirsty and longing for more, longing for peace, longing for quiet, then this book can help you along that journey. Ortberg is one of my top 10 authors of all time. Read everything he writes!

Five: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

I came across the book by chance. I was looking for a new read and simply liked the cover. Then I read some of the book, watched her TED Talk and made an immediate connection to the words of this book and the authors journey.

I have become a very open and vulnerable person over the last four years of having bone issues and surgeries. It is a tough process for a leader to have to go through trying times and have those who follow watch the process of pain, questions, doubt, fear, and so much more. Yet, Brene Brown has written an entire book about leading from a place of vulnerability. You will not regret this read!

Six: Taking People with You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen by David Novak

I read this book years ago on a plane ride to see my brother in Seattle. It was the only time in my life I was actually willing the plane to taxi slower so I could finish the book. I have used the ideas for many years since.

This year I decided to dust it off and read it all over again. I cannot believe how much I never noticed the first read. (Perhaps it was the toddler kicking my seat for the five hours ride!) Anyway, I have already found new principles to add to my volunteer leadership ideas.

Seven: Communicating for a Change: Seven Key’s to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley 

I think I have had this book for years and never actually read it. I mean I heard so much about it, I felt like I had read it. So I decided to make sure I really knew what Andy Stanley (long time church and leadership writer I have followed) was communicating through this text. Yep, it was just as good as the talks, blogs, and other leaders I have heard quote Stanley out of this book.

Oh, and I realized that most of how I communicate was not effective.  So I gave the principles a shot in a recent sermon. I have never had such a response after a message in 15 years. Totally recommend this for anyone trying to communicate anything!

Eight: God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future by Will Mancini 

I have been friend’s with Will since 2009. His first books, Church Unique changed the way I did church and ministry. I loved it so much, I drove from Lawton, Oklahoma to Houston, Texas to spend a day with him. How would you like a random guy showing up to hang out with you? Well, Will and his family invited me in and I have a memory I continue to hold dear to my heart, setting and dreaming about ministry possibilities around Will’s living room and talks as we walked Kema Boardwalk.

In God Dream’s, Will takes many of the Church Unique ideas (how his company Auxano walks churches through a transformational process) and applies those to how you can frame your vision to make a huge difference in your community. If you enjoy either book, you should look into taking your church through the process with one of Will’s amazing navigators.

Nine: Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell

I have read this book on my own, with a team, and I have handed out a few copies. Not once have I ever heard someone say anything less than this book being amazing. The principles are fun and applicable to nay business or organization. Many of the stories go back to events at Disney, America’s theme park, so it grabs your attention easily.

I even tested out some of the principles when I went to Disney (when I probably should have focused on my daughters and wife). I was dumbfounded at how each and every time I saw the principles in this book brought to life. I was so amazed a year later I did a Disney Institute class on Business Excellence. So worth it!

Ten: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbertt and Brian Kikkert

Last but not least, I started working with charities and nonprofits this year and it’s been a steep learning curve. I have gotten my hands on a few different books, but this one is so worth the read. If you run a church with a compassion ministry, a charity that deals with the poor, or run a business that is generous to the surrounding community, do yourself a favor and read this. You may actually be hurting those your serve and placing your community in further poverty. Alleviating systemic poverty takes cooperative systemic systems. This book will guide you to the right path.

So what are your Top 10 Book Lists? If you have a blog where you posted your list, please feel free to post a link in the comments. If you simply want to add a great leadership read to the list and conversation, post below!

Leaders are readers…so get yours!