Seth Godin had a great blog post on Thursday about knowing who the must-reads are in your field. It ended with these words:
We would never consent to surgery from a surgeon who hadn’t been to medical school, and perhaps even more important, from someone who hadn’t kept up on the latest medical journals and training. And yet there are people who take pride in doing their profession from a place of naivete, unaware or unlearned in the most important voices in their field.
The line between an amateur and professional keeps blurring, but for me, the posture of understanding both the pioneers and the state of the art is essential. An economist doesn’t have to agree with Keynes, but she better know who he is.
If you don’t know who the must-reads in your field are, find out before your customers and competitors do.
Too much doing, not enough knowing.
So the question is, for us pastors, who are the ‘must-reads’ in our field? And how do we decide?
The reason I ask this question is because we have a fair amount of latitude in our work. An old clergy friend of mine once told me that you can do the absolute non-negotiable tasks of an Anglican parish priest in about 24 hours a week. If you work twice that many (as many of my colleagues do), you have a certain amount of freedom in deciding how you’re going to spend the other 24 hours. And many of us will tend to spend it on projects and tasks that interest us, rather than asking ‘What would be of most benefit to my parish?’
Do we make decisions about our reading the same way? Instead of asking ‘Who are the must-reads to better equip me to do the work God is calling me to do in this parish?’ do we ask instead, ‘Now, what would I most like to read next?’ ?
I suspect that’s how we often make that decision. I know that’s true of me.
So my questions are:
- Who are the ‘must-reads’ for us as pastors?
- How do we decide who goes on that list?
- How do we make sure that we don’t neglect the classics that have stood the test of time in favour of the ones who happen to be making the waves today?