Read To Lead

If the title of this post sounds like it has its origins in a twenty-first century marketing campaign, guess again.  You are twenty-two centuries too late.  Its author is Cicero.  Here is the full quote:  “Read at every wait; read at all hours; read within leisure; read in times of labor; read as one goes in; read as one goes out.  The task of the educated mind is simply put: read to lead.”

Great leaders are, by-and-large, readers, and for good reason.  Reading helps one see beyond oneself, understand other points of view, gain the benefits of others’ experience, generate ideas, solve problems, and the list goes on and on. And because it is the destiny of the kingdom of God to lead the world, kingdom citizens should be readers.

By all indications, the Apostle Paul was a reader.  He was a highly educated Pharisee, he quoted Greek poets (Acts 17:28) and when he was being held in a Roman jail, he sent word to Timothy, “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.” (2 Tim. 4:13).

Apart from Jesus, Paul is probably the finest example of a leader in the New Testament.  He helped establish churches throughout the Roman Empire that would eventually change the world, wrote most of the New Testament, preached the Gospel to Nero Ceasar, and while doing all this, discipled others.

I’m busy, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, for the past few years I’ve made it a goal to read at least fifty books each year.  Now that it’s part of my lifestyle, my only regret is that I didn’t start when I was younger.

You don’t have to make the same mistake I made.  You may think you are too busy to read more, but let me give you two suggestions that might help.

First, read multiple books at one time.  That way, if you start to get bored with one, or you don’t want to read on that subject that day, you pick up one of the others and read with interest.  When you read with interest you read faster with better comprehension.  You will get much more out of your reading time and you will actually finish more books.

Second, follow Cicero’s advice. Always have a book with you so you can “read at every wait.”  It makes the wait time pass more quickly while making you a better leader in the process.

So, the bottom line?  Read, read, read…and begin to lead. GS

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