Charlie Tremendous Jones is well known for saying, "You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." I agree completely, but I will take it even further. You will be the same person at the end of 2015 as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read in the coming year.
Personal growth does not occur in five year increments. It is on-going and is the result of decisions we make every day. In economics we learn about opportunity costs. All resources are limited, and when we make a decision to do one thing with our resources we are also making a decision to not do many other things with those same resources. The things we cannot do are the opportunity costs of the decisions we make.
You and I have 24 hours a day to invest in ourselves and in others. Every day we make choices about how we are going to use those 24 hours. If we decide that we are going to use a portion of those hours in reading good books or spending time with quality people who can help grow or achieve our goals we are making an investment in our personal growth. On the other hand, if we decide to spend that time watching television or doing something else that really doesn't add value to our lives we will miss out on those opportunities to grow.
Having worked with churches for over three decades as a pastor and a judicatory leader it's obvious to me that one of the critical factors for a growing church is to be led by a pastor who is growing personally. Pastors who are satisfied to live in their personal ruts will also be satisfied to lead a church that is in a rut. Pastors who are growing in their personal and leadership lives will not be content to serve a church that refuses to grow. They will either lead their church in growth or they will find another church that is growing to serve.
When you invest in your personal growth you are also investing in the growth of your church, the growth of your family, and in the growth of all other areas of your life. I am convinced that being committed to personal growth is a commitment to being a life-long learner, and much of that learning will take place through the books we read.
Last week I shared some of my favorite books from 2014 and the titles of books currently on my shelf waiting to be read. I'm always wanting to find new books that will challenge me and help me grow as a minister and a leader. I want to find interesting books that will help me learn new information about the world in which I live and help me better understand myself and others. I may only be able to attend one or two workshops or conferences a year, but I can read every day.
If you want to grow in 2015 I challenge you to commit yourself to reading at least two books a month and to be selective about what you read. Ask yourself in what areas you need to grow and begin to look for books that will help you do that.
I also want to spend time with people who will help me grow. Leadership gurus often say that we should spend time with people who are further along than we are so we can learn from them. I agree. If we want to grow we need to spend time with these folks and let them teach us. When John Maxwell was starting as a leader he identified some of the persons he wanted to spend time with and offered to pay them for an hour of their time. He went to those meetings with questions written down that he wanted to ask and left with new insights that helped him grow as a leader.
In tomorrow's post I will write more about the people we need to spend time with and how we can choose the people who will help us in our personal growth.