What I Am Reading These Days (Late July)

When I was in Amsterdam doing a leadership retreat, one idea we talked about was:

Speed of the leader, speed of the team. Heart of the leader, heart of the team. You can’t take people to places you have not been. The organization cannot rise higher than the leaders are going.

I am constantly paying attention to my own speed, my heart, my journey, and what is stimulating my mind and filling my heart. Reading is a core pathway for my own personal growth. So, here is what is on my mind and heart through good books.

The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways Jesus is the Way by Eugene Peterson

I was given a pre-publication copy of this book by my good friend Byron Borger. While I have read hundreds of books on leadership, this one was a game changer for me. It helped my discover the radical way Jesus led. Guess what? I lent out my copy and I cannot remember to whom. So I bought a new copy. It is some of the reading I am doing preparing for our upcoming sermon series: Lead, Love, Serve: The Jesus Way.

Here is a killer quote from Peterson. “Jesus is an alternative to the dominant ways of the world, not a supplement to them. . . . I am interested in the ways Jesus leads because they are necessarily the ways by which I follow. I cannot follow Jesus any which way I like.”

The Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in Challenging Times, revised edition by Paul Loeb

I want to help Living Word become the best influence we can be on the community we love. Our times our challenging, the needs are great, the opportunities are many, and we must learn how we can be salt and light in our community. How do we engage culture? How do we live as citizens who love our nation, our state, and our community? What does it mean to be a Christian citizen?

This quote resonates with me: “We’ve all but forgotten that public participation is the very soul of democratic citizenship, and that it can profoundly enrich our lives.”

On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old by Parker Palmer (and) Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

These two books are about living well as I age. I have a lot of energy. My health is generally quite good. But I am in my decade of the 60’s. Different things matter more than the things of my 30’s and 40’s. Each decade of life brings new opportunities, as well as new challenges. I am reading these things first for my own benefit, and then so I can help my “gracefully aging friends” flourish as they age and live well.

Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization by Os Guinness

Os Guinness has been a favorite writer of mine for decades. I have read most of the books he has written. He is a brilliant public theologian and an astute observer (and critic) of culture, with the passion of a prophet. Part of my calling is to help Living Word learn how to be the faithful, missional people of God in a post-Christian and steadily increasing anti-Christian culture.

To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Confession. I started this one, read about a third of it, and put it on the back burner. It is a slow read, but true wisdom from the Old Testament, as well as contemporary social philosophy. Rabbi Sacks is one of those wonderfully insightful, continually gracious, and critically realistic public intellectuals we can learn from. Sacks has become one of my recent favorite authors. He is a prolific writer and I have several others of his waiting on the “to read shelf” after I am done this one.

Moving quote: “It is not for you to complete the work, but nor are you free to desist from it. We do our best: that is all God asks. The ethics of Judaism are demanding, but they are also profoundly forgiving.”


So, that is my current reading and musings. But I don’t just read and think, I write, I prepare materials, and I have discussions about what I am reading. Adjusting the insight from philosopher Francis Bacon for contemporary times . . .

I would add: And reading on the beach makes you HAPPY.

Grace, good reading, warm conversations, and sunny beaches be yours this summer.

Pastor Brian


Brian Rice