Wow what a morning! I slept well last night, had a good morning of reading, and went to church. I did go to church this morning for a specific reason. I was looking for guidance. There are many difficult and complex issues associated with modern living, some of which are very confusing, and I went to church this morning looking to the One who I knew has the answers. He did not disappoint. I have a renewed sense of peace and action.
This process of growth got me thinking about the challenge from Dr. Luke Goble to identify my top ten books. I have read several thousand books and wondered what I would consider my top ten. So I sat down and looked at my Ipad and my bookcases to see if I could narrow it down. I have read books from a plethora of genres that have impacted me over the years. Shakespeare, Durkheim, Kant, McIntyre, and others have influenced me. But what are those books that have made me who I am today? That was an interesting thought process especially after my revitalization this morning at church.
The question is who am I? I am a Christ follower first and foremost. Therefore, what were those books that have influenced my walk with Christ the most? Secondly, I am a thinker who doesn’t follow the left or right path, but one that usually falls in the middle, which means I have the opportunity to make both sides of the social and political spectrum upset. I am a selfish individualist who at times drives my wife and children crazy because of my drive to accomplish things. Lastly, I am a man who has come to believe that business can be done in a way that economic equality can be gained through hard work and tenacity. However, I also believe that the system is skewed to the rich, who need to see their responsibility to help those that do not have the same opportunities. So what are those books that have helped me get to this point in my life?
The most important book in my life is the Bible. I am not ashamed of this, nor will I apologize for this. Those who say that Christians are haters, have no idea who this guy Jesus Christ is. I met Him in the pages of the book, and I intend to walk with Him for the rest of my life.
The second most influential book that has made me who I am today, is the book “With Christ in the School of Prayer.” Andrew Murray’s books have had a huge impact on my thinking and ability to meditate and reflect on my relationship with God.
The third book, The Pursuit of God, by AW Tozer has had an incredible impact on my life. This was a book that, along with Murray, helped me to cultivate an inner life that hungers and thirsts for God. It has helped me to accept the grace of God.
The fourth book is actually two short stories in one book. “Father Sergius” was the story of an ambitious man who became a monk. However, his ambition follows him into this new role and almost destroys him, but he eventually finds the path of service. “Master and Man” is a short story about a businessman who though his impatience puts he and his servant in jeopardy. They are traveling to another city and get stuck in a blizzard in Russia. The master learns humility by keeping his servant warm through the night, but dies in the process. The businessman’s lessons were incredibly instructive for me.
The fifth book was Habits of the Heart. It was written by Bellah, Tipton, Sullivan, Madson, and Swidler. This book taught me about the complexities associated with modern living. It also convinced me that success is never just an individual effort. There are people who have supported us, counseled us, and helped us have the strength to attain our accomplishments. I don’t think there is such a thing as bowling alone.
The sixth book was a recent read. Niall Fergusson’s book “The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die” explores the economic stagnation of the west due to increasing debt, and the lack of economic mobility. Low wages and the ability of a corrupt and monopolistic elite to exploit the system to their own advantage are considered socially regressive. This book has helped me to see what the major cause of a stationary economy is, one that is characterized by the rich exploiting the poor. It is the result of laws and institutions. In other words entrenched systems that favor one group over another. I am a firm believer in personal initiative, but if a system has been established that does not allow each individual to prosper through initiative and innovation, then Houston we have a problem.
The seventh, and the most related to my current position as department chair, “Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning For Professions,” by Colby, Ehrlich, Sullivan, and Dolle. This book has helped me to see how important engagement in the classroom is, and how important practice is in the community. It has convinced me that there is no better place to study business then in a liberal arts institution.
The eighth book was written by one of my favorite modern authors, Phillip Yancey. “The Jesus I Never Knew,” helped me to think outside of my western evangelical box to see a Jesus that is closer to the real one. A companion to this book would be “Imaginary Jesus” by Matt Mikalatos. Often we create our own Jesus’s to fit our own selfish desires.
The ninth book on my list probably should be a little higher on the list. “The Making of a Man of God,” by Alan Redpath is one of those books that transformed my life. When I was younger I was very insecure, and I was afraid to try anything because I was afraid of failing. By looking at the life of David through the words of Redpath my life was truly transformed.
The tenth book was written by Malcolm Gladwell. David and Goliath was a timely book in my life. It helped me to confront those giants I was facing. “David and Goliath is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. By giants, I mean powerful opponents of all kinds.”
So there you have it. This is not by any means an exhaustive list. I am sure I have left many books off the list that have impacted me, but for who I am right now, these are the big ten.
And that is my thought for the day!