When I left full-time vocational ministry about 10 years ago, I left probably more than half of the books on my shelf in the office. When I thought about what I wanted to keep and what I really didn’t need, it was pretty easy to jettison 50% of the books I’d been hauling around. Most I hadn’t cracked and didn’t foresee any need to ever use them as they were either getting dated or were by authors I’d come to not trust or not really care what they thought anymore. So I brought some books with me and left others behind.
Currently we’re in a transitional situation where we’re in a rental suite in a community that is not our home and in our regular home, there are mountains of books still left behind. In these last few transitions, I’ve just brought a few boxes of books with me. Every now and then I discover a book that I wish I had and realize it’s not on my shelf here. For the most part, the books I have are the ones that I need. There’s not hundreds and hundreds, but it’s just comes down to dozens that I have with me.
I’ve got the Expository Bible Commentary as kind of a baseline starting point. If I ever want to really dig into a book of the Bible, I’ll buy a dedicated commentary. I’ve got some leadership books, some marketing books, of course, and different things.
One of the books I just noticed on my shelf that just seems to stick with me is one that I bought years ago. I remember going to this bookstore and flipping through these different leadership and management books. It’s called The Power of Simplicity: A Management Guide to Cutting Through the Nonsense and Doing Things Right by Jack Trout. It was expensive at the time, like $39.95 and it’s not a massive book, less than 200 pages. But it’s got this dedication statement that says, “Dedicated to the overwhelmed and confused who sense there’s a simpler way.”
I bought that book simply based on the title and the dedication because at that moment in time, that’s exactly how I was feeling about my life and my ministry. It was getting a little bit overwhelming and getting difficult to really feel like I was making headway. And it’s an outstanding little book and has become one of my top 10 in all my books.
He’s got these different segments such as the basics of simplicity, management issues, leadership issues, people issues and a conclusion. His chapters are just one-word chapter titles, one or two words and then a little subtitle. For instance, “Simplicity: Why People Fear It So Much;” “Consultants: The Source of a Lot of Nonsense” and “Mission Statements: All They Add Is Needless Confusion.” Then he has a short chapter unpacking his thoughts about that topic.
For instance on mission statements, he has the chapter titled “Mission Statements: All They Add Is Needless Confusion” and then he’s got this little quote underneath from a general manager at GM that says, “A bunch of guys take off their ties and coats, go into a motel room for three days, put a bunch of words on a piece of paper, and then go back to business as usual.”.
In his book, he basically debunks and challenges a lot of common practices in leadership. If you’re in pastoral ministry and Christian leadership and you read a book like this, you are going to see reflections of yourself and your organization again and again and again and be challenged by this call to move towards simplicity.
I love the phraseology “The power of.” My speaking website was “The Power of A Team” and my keynote was “The Power of a Team” when I was in the professional speaking world. I’ve done other articles of things using that phraseology and perhaps that’s also why I like the title of this book “The Power of Simplicity” where there’s something that comes when we simplify and boil things down to their essence.
The simplicity of knowing that our primary purpose is to make disciples. The simplicity of knowing what a disciple is. The simplicity of knowing how to make disciples and using that as the filter. That’s just an example of how to apply this stuff.
So just a recommendation of a book and also another call, yet again, to simplicity because simplicity is really foundational to living a focused, sustainable life and ministry. So, jettison some complexity from your life today. Focus in. Boil things down to their essence and then execute. That’s how things get done and that’s how the road gets changed.
Thanks for listening. Have a great day.