The Importance of Literature

“The things you read will fashion you . . .” A.W. Tozer

  Our lives are governed by a set of certain laws. For instance, gravity will ultimately win. We can temporarily escape its effects through technological intervention, but in the end, we can’t avoid its impending and powerful pull.  

 A.W. Tozer tapped into another law in the quote above. As much as we may kick against it, the unavoidable truth is that we are fashioned by what we read. I resisted this reality for many years. I hated reading and saw it as an option to opt out of.  

 And then God came into the picture. Or more accurately, God opened my eyes to His presence and plan for my life. My values were recalibrated and reading went from being a dread to a delight. God placed this new passion in me, and I began to see the truth of Tozer’s statement take hold in my life.  

 Like gravity, this law still reigns over me 25 years later. I am shaped by what I read—we all are, whether we realize it or not. My purpose in writing today is to share some lessons learned that I hope will help you as you align your life with this truth. These principles have guided me in my reading over the years, and ultimately fashioned who I am. I hope and pray they help you as well.   So here is what I read and why I read it.  

“I don’t confine my recreational reading to one specific category. God has given each of us a unique personality and set of interests. Reading about those interests expands our understanding and passion for them. Which, in turn, serves to cultivate what God has planted in us.”

  First off, the foundation of my reading time is set on the Bible. Specifically, I follow a reading plan through the New Testament that you can check out here. This is the bedrock that supports everything else in my life, including my reading. Our lives need to be fed by a steady inflow of God communicating with us. This won’t happen apart from His Word; it’s the means by which He has chosen to talk to us. If you don’t have a consistent and measurable relationship with God’s Word, start there.  

 Alongside my Bible reading, I also recreationally read through a book. And there are a few factors that make or break my enjoyment in doing this.  

 For one thing, I don’t confine my recreational reading to one specific category. God has given each of us a unique personality and set of interests. Reading about those interests expands our understanding and passion for them. Which, in turn, serves to cultivate what God has planted in us.  

 For me, I naturally enjoy learning about the history of exploration. Something inside me comes alive and I drop what I’m doing to learn about the exploits of the explorers of the past. The same is true when it comes to World War II, biographies, Sherlock Holmes, the Dead Sea Scrolls, hockey, etc.  

 On the surface, these look like non-spiritual subjects. Yet they still factor into how God wired me, so they’re valuable reads for me. I believe a lot of us force-feed ourselves the latest “it” book without having any true interest in it. We read because others are or because we think it makes us look good. This can be especially true in the Christian realm. But it’s far better to read a book about something you genuinely care about, even if it seems non-spiritual in nature.  

 That being said, because I’m “in Christ” and I’m being progressively shaped into His image, I have a growing appetite for spiritual things. As a result, the things I want to read about alternates between non-spiritual and spiritual subjects.   Here’s a list of the last few books I’ve read:  

  • Controversy by William Manchester (non-spiritual collection of historical essays) 
  • The Work of the Pastor by William Still (spiritual book on ministry)
  • The Last Lion by William Manchester (non-spiritual bio on Winston Churchill)
  • Bescrooged by Mark and Gordon MacDonald (spiritual book on biblical generosity)
  • The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester (non-spiritual book on the Oxford English Dictionary)

  You can see the rhythm and the result is a healthy balance of who I naturally am and who I supernaturally am becoming as God continues His good work in me.  

“I believe a lot of us force-feed ourselves the latest “it” book without having any true interest in it. We read because others are or because we think it makes us look good. This can be especially true in the Christian realm. But it’s far better to read a book about something you genuinely care about, even if it seems non-spiritual in nature.”

  One last rule for reading is to read something every day. No matter how good the book may be, it will always be hard to pick it up once you put it down for any length of time.  

 Reading a book is like pushing a stalled car. It takes some effort to get going at first. Once you achieve momentum, progress is easy. But if you let it come to a standstill, it’s hard to get things moving again. Books are a lot like that. So in reading through a book, read a little bit of it each day, even if it’s just a page. It keeps momentum and you’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll make.

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.