In my last blog post, I talked about the challenge of making time for pastoral reading. I figure that all pastors need mentoring in leadership and preaching, so reading books on the topic are important. So I continue to carve out 15-30 minutes a day for pastoral/professional reading.
But today I want to talk about another kind of reading that we may need even more: spiritual reading. I recently attended a conference on spiritual leadership. The conference teacher, the Rev. Dr. N. Graham Standish, encouraged us all to read many books on leadership. But he also encouraged us to spend considerable time reading books spiritually. So what does this mean? To read a book spiritually is to read it for spiritual formation. It is to read a book appreciatively, not critically. It is to read a book for inspiration, not information. It is to read a book with this question in mind: “What is the Lord saying to me through this reading?” Standish says that the Lord is continually speaking to us through our reading—of God’s Word and other spiritual/devotional books. The question is: are we listening?
Spiritual reading is about quality, not quantity. Yes, I still feel compelled to chip away at my pastoral reading list. But even more I want to rest in God’s presence and hear what he is saying to me through spiritual guides of past and present. So I’ve begun to set aside at least 30 minutes a week for intentional spiritual reading. Sunday afternoons have worked well so far. After feeding the flock God’s Word, I seek to rest in His presence and feed on the works of godly people like Francis de Sales, John of the Cross, Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. I get up feeling refreshed, nourished and guided for life and ministry.
What are your thoughts about the concept of "spiritual reading?" What has been your experience with this practice?