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Did you set any goals for 2020? After two months, are you on target to achieve them? One of my goals for 2020 was to recommit myself to reading widely. My February reading ended up being heavy in leadership material.

One challenge to reading is that you’re almost guaranteed to get some lame books, no matter how hard you work at screening them. Despite this risk, I was pleased to really enjoy every book I read this month. If you want to grow as a leader, these resources will take your leadership to the next level.

Didn’t See It Coming

Carey Nieuwhof

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I’ve long been a fan of Carey’s podcast (which you should check out if you haven’t), but this was my first venture into his books. He addresses seven challenges that every leader experiences, but few expect. Nieuwhof identifies these challenges as Cynicism, Compromise, Disconnection, Irrelevance, Pride, Burnout, and Emptiness. Each challenge is split into two chapters – one for diagnosis and one for growth.

At this stage in my life, his chapters on Irrelevance and Disconnection resonated deeply with me. I’ve spent the last ten years investing heavily in young adults, teenagers, and children. Do you know what I see from most adults? People who don’t want to be irrelevant or disconnected from the next generation … but they are. I doubt every chapter will profoundly impact you right now, but this is a book that needs to be on your shelf … and probably needed to be there last week.

My Favorite Quote: “Your competency leaves the first impression, but your character leaves the lasting impression. The crowd is intrigued by your competency, but your family and close friends are influenced by your character.”

Death by Meeting

Patrick Lencioni

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I was in college when I first encountered Lencioni’s classic, 5 Dysfunctions of a TeamDespite loving that book, it took me over a decade to read anything else from him. Death by Meeting was actually suggested to me by a friend, and it didn’t disappoint – I couldn’t put it down. It took me all of two days to read it – and my only reading time was between our kids going to bed and me going to bed! If you’re new to Lencioni, he writes in fables to communicate a larger point, with a brief overview of the key takeaways at the end. He’ll draw you in to the story while challenging your thinking.

If your organization wastes any time in meetings, you need this book. That’s code for saying you need this book. You don’t run the meetings? Doesn’t matter – leadership is influence, not authority. You’re a stay at home mom? Doesn’t matter – it will help you re-think communication with your husband. You’re a HS coach? It will transform your effectiveness in leading your team. Stop reading this post and order the book. You won’t regret it.

My Favorite Quote: “Employees aren’t expecting Hamlet, but they’re certainly looking for a reason to care. And that’s what the leader of a meeting should be giving them.”

Deep Work

Cal Newport

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Reading Deep Work was half refreshing, half drinking out of a fire hose, and half fascinating story-telling. You see what I did there, right? Newport is a gifted writer and this book is incredibly compelling. If you want to accomplish more, especially in areas that require heavy duty brain work, Deep Work is a must-read.

Cal does a great job of establishing the value of what he calls “deep work” and then outlining how everyone can grow in it. Don’t be fooled – he maps out a difficult road. But in the end, the pain of eliminating distraction is well worth it in the end.

My Favorite Quote: “If you can’t learn, you can’t thrive … to learn requires intense concentration.”

The Supremacy of God in Preaching

John Piper

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John Piper is a gift to the world and this particular book is just another example. This is the outlier in my list in that you probably won’t buy it if you aren’t a preacher. But if you are, you need to get it. Many of Piper’s recent books sounds redundant (in my humble opinion), but this is an older work, and rings true with more authenticity.

Piper’s central premise is that people are desperate to experience the greatness of God, which must be given to them in preaching. It’s classic Piper at his best. The first section in particular is phenomenal. The 3rd edition comes in at just under 150 pages, so it’s not a scholarly volume and won’t take you that long to read. If you want your preaching to exalt God, move others toward God, and bear eternal fruit, pick up this book and follow Piper’s advice.

My Favorite Quote: “It is not the job of the Christian preacher to give people moral or psychological pep talks about how to get along in the world. When that is needed, someone else can do it. But most of our people have no one, no one in the world, to tell them, week in and week out, about the supreme beauty and majesty of God.”

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