“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). Paul is old. He’s locked up, but he still asks Timothy for books and paper. He’s committed to reading and writing even in his advanced age. Besides all the social data that indicates that those who read every day are more successful, Christians should understand the value of reading daily. Our Scripture, God’s very words, are written down in a book. His gospel is a story told. Therefore, we should be committed to reading daily.
Men especially, as you lead your home, value reading, value books, and value good stories. Doing so will provide gospel in-roads as your shepherd your homes, as you seek to read Scripture to your family, and as you seek to mature as a disciple of Jesus Christ and as you seek to multiply disciples in your sphere of influence. Here’s fifteen ways you can read more in 2015.
1. PLAN YOUR WEEK
You don’t need to be a schedule crazed person to plan your week. Have a general idea what you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it. Having a schedule allows you to be flexible with it. Don’t be shy. Schedule your reading. Fight for that time. I’m not a morning person, but for those of you who are, why not get up thirty minutes early and do some of your reading? Or if you’re a night owl, why not stay up thirty minutes later and read? Or take a shorter lunch and read during part of it? The gist? Find time through planning.
2. THINK QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
When it comes to your daily reading get into a routine that’s realistic and think quality, not quantity. The easiest way to fail at reading more is to set unrealistic goals. Take it slow out of the gate. Don’t schedule too much reading time if you’re starting from nothing. If you haven’t been regularly reading I would recommend starting with twenty minutes of Scripture and ten minutes of another book daily. Add more time as your reading muscles grow.
3. SWAP DUTIES WITH YOUR WIFE
If you are married, why not swap duties with your wife one night? She takes care of all that night’s duties and allows you to take a good chunk of time to read. Just don’t forget to return the favor! My wife once or twice a month allows me four hours at a local bookshop to knock out some long distance reading without the distraction of children. I do the same for her so she can explore craft, antique, and fabric stores once or twice a month. It gives us each time to enjoy something we love. It gives us the opportunity to show our love tangibly to each other. And it fosters teamwork and communication.
4. READ TO YOUR CHILDREN
If you have children include them in the reading. Find books that will excite, engage, and arrest their attention. Read a little bit every night. Be dramatic. Have fun.
5. REDEEM TRAVEL TIME
If you have a long commute to work use your travel time wisely. Use a service like Audible.com to purchase audiobooks so you can listen to them in the car. On your smart phone download a Bible app and practice listening well.
6. KEEP A BOOK AT HAND
You have pockets of minutes all through out your day waiting to be discovered and taken advantage of. Keep a book with you. Something you can easily consume in bite size amounts and read when those minutes are available throughout your day. For parents, so much of our life is wrapped around our kid’s frantic schedules—school, soccer practice, dance, and debate. When your kid is practicing, playing, or debating, read something.
7. SET SHORT TERM GOALS
Sets goals for what you want to read for a day, for the week, and for the month. Be flexible and ferocious in accomplishing your goals. Check out Goodreads for a good way to track your goals.
8. SET LONG TERM GOALS
How many books do you want to read in the year? How many in two years? How many in five? Ten? Set long terms goals. Set realistic goals and also think big for stretch goals.
9. ENLIST FRIENDS
Why not have a friendly challenge? Choose a book. Ask a friend to join you and challenge them who can finish it first. If you want to make it fun, pick something with some girth. Or maybe it’s not who can finish it first, but partaking in a Google Hangout to discuss the book. Be creative. Build community around books.
10. THINK DURATION, NOT SPEED
Read for a set time each day—no matter how many pages get read. If you set a certain number of chapters, you may read for speed when you should be reading for comprehension. If you fall short on the chapters for any reason you may become discouraged, whereas if you set realistic goals for duration you will more likely succeed and stick with it.
11. BUILD YOUR READING MUSCLES
Reading is like anything else. The more you read the better you read. The better you read the more you will comprehend. You will notice you find a reading pace that you are comfortable with while soaking in maximum information. It’s like running a race. Find your race pace when reading.
12. STRETCH BEFORE READING
You stretch before exercising so why not stretch before reading? Use the first five minutes or so of your reading time to chew on something easy. Have a book of poetry that you read from to warm up your muscles. An amuse bouche, if you will.
13. BE FLEXIBLE
Stuff happens. A car may break down. Kids might be sick. Late night work might be unavoidable. Take a deep breath and go with the flow. Then the next day start reading again.
14. KEEP ACCOUNTABLE
Tell people your goals. Start a blog chronicling your reading adventures. Encourage them to ask you about the books you’re reading. Find other readers who will sharpen and provide accountability for you.
15. HAVE FUN!
Don’t be the kind of person who likes books more than people. Books are awesome but people are even more awesome. Don’t be grumpy. Read to the glory of God and see his creativity mirrored in the well-crafted words you are reading.
What is your current reading routine? How do you plan on improving it? Ideally, how many books would you like to read during the year?
Assistant Editor, Manual
Mathew is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He’s the Managing Editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship. He’s married to LeAnn and they have three daughters. They enjoy traveling, relaxing at the beach, and wandering in the woods. Mathew regularly blogs at Grace for Sinners. The Sims are members at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.
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