Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Read a Little, not a Lot

Dear Bethany Community Church,

Let me add one more suggestion to your ever-growing list of New Year’s Resolutions: resolve to read little bit instead of trying to read a lot.

Books can sometimes be rather formidable opponents, weighing in at several hundred pages usually.  Great tomes can seem even more overwhelming.  We feel as though we are doing well to read the Bible, much less additional reading! 

Therefore, my suggestion is to try not to read “a lot” but instead try to read “a little bit.”

Pastor John Stott tells of his struggle to find adequate study time and the realization he came to in his book Between Two Worlds:

I found from the beginning that [spending an entire morning in study] was an impossible ideal to attain.  I made valiant efforts, but I failed.  Mornings?  Why, on Sunday morning I was at public worship in church; on Monday morning there was a staff meeting; Tuesday was my day off; by Wednesday there were urgent letters to write; on Thursday morning I taught in our Church Day School; on Friday morning there was sure to be a funeral; and Saturday morning I had to reserve for actual sermon preparation.  Thus the week went by without a single morning being free for those books which I was supposed to be reading.  So I found myself obliged to lower my expectations and set myself more realistic goals.  I have come to believe in the cumulative value of shorter periods of study (202). 

John Piper confirms Stott’s conclusion and offers this observation in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals:

We think we don’t have time to read.  We despair of reading anything spiritually rich and substantial because life seems to be lived in snatches.  One of the most helpful discoveries I have made is how much can be read in disciplined blocks of twenty minutes a day. 

Suppose that you read slowly, say about 250 words a minutes (as I do).  This means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words.  An average book has about four hundred words a page.  So you could read about twelve-and-a-half pages in twenty minutes.  Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year.  That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages.  Assume that an average book is 250 pages long.  This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year (66-67).

You probably do not have several hours every day to read a book.  But perhaps you have twenty minutes a day before you fall asleep, or half an hour while you eat lunch. 

By God’s grace and for His glory, venture into new worlds this year in your reading!
By His Grace,

Pastor Daniel

No comments: