Guest post by Tom Crenshaw, 4/20/22.
Leadership Thought: Who’s Your Best Friend and How Long Have You Known Him or Her? (You Might Be Surprised to Know Mine).
Tucked away in the Apostle Paul’s closing remarks to Timothy is a verse that is easy to miss. Paul writes, “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments (2 Timothy 4:13). Scholars suggest that the parchments may have been part of the Old Testament. In any event, this got me to thinking about the importance of good books and what friends they have been to me over the years of my ministry.
Some of my friends have been sitting on my shelves for over 50 years, but like the Word, there some things that never grow old.
There has always been a battle brewing in the Crenshaw household over the number of friends I have brought home. I remember as we were leaving Fort Lauderdale to retire 14 years ago, I found an old cardboard box my wife had dumped in the corner of my office with a note that said, “Sort out the most important 100 books and put them in the box and give the rest away.” Those words struck terror in my heart. Get rid of my friends. Send them packing. “No, no, no, I can’t do it,” I cried.The retirement part didn’t work out any better than her efforts to ditch my friends. Most all of them traveled north with me and found residence on a new set of shelves that take up most of my office.
Only a lover of books can understand and appreciate how difficult it is to give your books away. Maybe I am just selfish for I know my library takes up considerable room in my office, and now in my apartment, but you can’t just walk away from your friends.
Long ago I copied down a quote that has stayed with me to this day. It was Mark Twain who said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read at all.” That caught my attention the first time I read it, and it still resonates with me today.
In Oswald Sanders’ book Spiritual Leadershipthere is a chapter titled “The Leader and Reading,” and I remember spending one evening studying the chapter with a group of men. We all agreed that ‘leaders are readers,’ and the more we read the better leaders we will become.
One of the questions we discussed was, “What books have had the greatest impact on your life and why? As we shared some of our favorite books, I found myself hard pressed to limit my answers for there have been so many books that have shaped and impacted my ministry that I wouldn’t know where to begin or end.
A.W. Tozer was wise when he wrote, “The things you read will fashion you by slowly conditioning your mind.” And how true were his words. I confess that if there is any wisdom that comes from my mouth, it probably come from someone I have read, and while I may not know his or her name, their wisdom has permeated my mind and left its imprint on my thinking.
And the late Chuck Colson writes “Next to acquiring good friends, the best acquisition is that of a good book.” He was right.As we closed our evening that night, we had fun discussing the following question: “If the notes and files of your reading were to be turned over to a detective-psychologist for character analysis, what would they conclude about you?”
That’s a good question for a small group, and it’s a good question for you to ponder today.
Yours in faith and friendship,
P.S. Do any of you know any good 12 Step Programs for book hoarders like me? Just asking!
This message taken from a previous message shared in 2020