There are a lot of things that have molded and shaped me over the years. Some good and some not so good. Be that as it may, I was thinking this week about how there are a lot of great books I’ve read over the years that have come to define who I am. The Bible is obviously one of those and in a class all by itself. I put some thought in to what the 10 books that really shaped me were. If you haven’t read some of them, I highly recommend giving each one some attention. Each one molded, changed and shaped me in a different way. So let’s get started.
1. Love Does by Bob Goff – While this list is in no particular order, how could I possible start off the list with anything else? If you know me, you know this book rocked my world. It completely changed my way of looking at life. For an entire year, I carried this charge into my day. It became a habit. It became a lifestyle. It is the lens by which I view the world. It’s hilarious. It’s simple. It is the best book I have ever read and there is really no close second. If I received a commission for the amount of copies I have purchased as gifts, let friends borrow or simply given away, I’d have a nice little check. I gave them away because….Love Does.
2. Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy – For many years, Quiet Strength held down the top spot on my mental list of “best books I’ve ever read.” It looked unbeatable. I grabbed this book before a trip to Indianapolis and ended up staying up all night to finish it. I couldn’t put it down. The story of his son’s tragic death was heartwrenching. The entire time I read this book, I kept thinking to myself – “Is this guy for real?” I meant that in a very good way. Tony Dungy is a man of integrity. Quiet Strength challenged me to live in the same way. It challenged me as a husband, father and follower of Christ. I have let so many people borrow my copy that I have no idea where it is. I am absolutely fine with that.
3. In The Grip of Grace by Max Lucado – I have two words for this book…Game Changer. Somehow I was all but raised in a church, attended a Christian college and missed the entire concept of grace. Like, missed it by a country mile. Then one year I decided to try to read every Max Lucado book he’d ever written. Dude has written a TON of books by the way. I think the second one I read was In the Grip of Grace. I know all of them were good, but the one that really hit me was this one. Max can take something so hard to understand and make it so simple and practical. If you’ve never paused to consider the gift of grace, this book is a great place to start.
4. Wild at Heart by John Eldredge – Not long after completely breaking down my concept of faith (thanks to In the Grip of Grace), I picked up a copy of Wild at Heart. If a book about grace was a Game Changer, Wild at Heart pretty well turned me inside out. Every man needs three things – a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and an adventure to live. Simple enough right? Not so much. This book opened up things I didn’t even know I had buried. It took me on an internal soul searching mission I was in no way prepared for. I’ve never been the same since…and that’s a very good thing. Best recommendation is to read this book with a group of guys. Wrestle through it together as a band of brothers. You’ll never be the same again.
5. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller – Once I was raw and worn out after Wild at Heart the book Blue Like Jazz came along at just the right time. This was my first introduction to Donald Miller. If you’ve never read a Donald Miller book, you are missing out. If you saw the movie “Blue Like Jazz” please don’t judge the book by the film. They are not really that close. There were some similarities, but the book was so much better. Donald Miller is just a guy asking questions and seeking answers. Something I needed to do too after learning more about grace and myself. I went on to read every book by Donald Miller I could get my hands on. They were all good but Blue Like Jazz was incredible. It’s no wonder Donald Miller and Bob Goff are good friends.
6. Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them by John Ortberg – As I was reconstructing myself and my faith, I began to learn more about our need for community. God designed and built us to be in community with others. We crave it. It could be your church, a bar, the parents of your kids sports team. We’re all in community somewhere. Everybody’s Normal put me on a path and passion to see others and myself find these kind of circles of influence. We all need someone to carry the mat for us. We need to carry that mat for someone else. John Ortberg is another one of my favorite authors and this book is one we all need to read.
7. Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus – Throughout the process of molding and shaping me, the book Chasing Daylight put me on a path to purpose. Erwin McManus has several great books, but I think this one is as worn out, underlined and referenced as any other book I own. I frequently go back and re-read portions to remind and encourage myself on may levels. We’re burning hours each moment of each day. How are you spending them?
8. Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell – Now before you move on to the next one, I know what you’re thinking. Rob Bell? I’ll admit that I’m not 100% sure where Rob Bell is nowadays. I’ve read the books. His first two were brilliant (this one and Sex God). The third one had me a bit confused. After that, well, let’s talk about Velvet Elvis. Rob Bell asks great questions. Deep, thought provoking questions. He doesn’t always stick around to answer them, but he did in Velvet Elvis. There is one particular story towards the end that still, to this day, remains at the front of my mind. Especially after I spent a cup of coffee working with a local ministry. It’s a story about him and his dad in church and it ends with his dad saying “We’ve lost Rob.” I’ll pull a Rob Bell here and leave you with that. You can read the rest of the story in the book. I encourage you to do so.
9. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller – Yes, Donald Miller made the list twice. Actually Lucado, Ortberg, Bell and many others could have made the list twice. Picking just 10 was really hard (those are just a few of my books in the picture in this post). The story of this book came from the making of the film “Blue Like Jazz.” Basically, there was no story. Donald Miller’s life had no story and the directors of the film told him so. He went about changing that and living a life that told a story. This book follows that journey. His “point on the horizon” theory is brilliant and so is this book.
10. Moment Maker by Carlos Whitaker – Last but certainly not least is the newest book of all of those listed here. You may have heard of Carlos Whitaker from his uber popular blog. He’s also been all over viral videos and so many other places. He’s led worship in incredible places and currently splits time doing so in one of my favorite places – Cross Point Church in Nashville. I don’t know Carlos. We’ve met twice but both times were very short and sweet. We have mutual friends and I follow him through social media. What I do know about Carlos is he lives. Carlos makes moments. I read this book while I was on a flight to make a moment one day too. During my layover, I pulled up Amazon on my phone and ordered it for a friend. This book reminded me how important it is to squeeze everything out of life. Every second. Every relationship. Every moment. And yes, Carlos, Donald Miller and Bob Goff are all close friends of one another. Los even references Bob and Don in the book.
So there you have it. I could literally write a post about each one of these books. Truth is, if you go through my archives, I am sure I have written at least one and probably several referencing these. Each one of these books and so many others have shaped who I am today. The good news is that God isn’t through with me yet. I know that. There’s still so much work to do. Thankfully, there are still so many more books to read.
Your Turn. What books have shaped you?