We’re all figuring out what life in an indefinite quarantine looks like. I thought I’d have more free time, but I’m not sure I actually do. Rather, COVID-19 is helping me re-assess how I spend my time, and hopefully be a better steward of it.
As a result, I ended up reading a lot more in March. I hope you’ll also become a better steward of your time and find at least one book here to deem worth the investment of reading.
Delighting in the Trinity
I’m admittedly (and somewhat ashamedly) late to the party here. Friends have been recommending this book for years and I just now got to it. Reeves writes beautifully and insightfully. The subtitle inititially seemed a bit ambitious, “An Introduction to the Christian Faith.” After reading it, though, it’s spot on – the Trinity is at the heart of Christianity.
Rather than endlessly debate analogies for the Trinity (H2O, 3 leaf clover, etc.), Reeves explores who the Trinity is, how it functions, and how this transforms our lives. I know that sounds a bit stuffy – it’s why I waited so long to read it. But it really isn’t! The love of God that will transform your life is most beautifully displayed in the Trinity. Don’t believe me? Order the book and then we can debate!
My Favorite Quote: “For eternity, the Father so loves the Son that he excites the Son’s eternal love in response; Christ so loves the church that he excites our love in response; the husband so loves his wife that he excites her to love him back. Such is the spreading goodness that rolls out of the very being of this God.”
Pink explores the topic of motivation and concludes that most of our tactics are wrong. The science shows that external rewards and punishments don’t really do much to increase our motivation or performance. There’s a (low) threshold of required income, but beyond that, we are motivated by altogether different considerations: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. If you’re looking to build a healthy culture in your family, school, church, or business, this is a worthwhile read.
While Pink makes a pretty strong scientific case for his view, he could have done more to speak to common objections. For example, if we give complete autonomy to employees, how do we keep them rowing in the right direction? Or with regards to mastery, what kinds of strategies have been effective for helping people see progress in their craft? If you’ve read Pink and know these resources exist somewhere, please point me to them.
My Favorite Quote: “Rewards can deliver a short-term boost – just as a jolt of caffeine can keep you cranking for a few more hours. But the effect wears off – and, worse, can reduce a person’s longer-term motivation to continue the project.”
The Righteous Mind
Haidt tries to figure out why otherwise nice people become angry and disagree so intensely on politics and religion. In other words, why do they feel righteous in their mind, but behave unrighteously? It can be dense at points, but is still a fascinating read. You can purchase The Righteous Mind here.
Haidt explores the psychological development of morality in the brain. He concludes that moral intuitions come first, and then we seek evidence to support our views. For example, a given politician says something and we immediately, subconsciously react to it. Then, we go about finding evidence to support our intuitions. At his best, Haidt helps us identify blind spots in our thinking and be more empathetic toward differing perspectives.
My Favorite Quote: “If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you. But if you think about moral reasoning as a skill we humans evolved to further our social agendas – to justify our own actions and to defend the teams we belong to – then things will make a lot more sense.”
The Self-Evolved Leader
McKeown builds a case for renewed focus on leadership development in an ever-changing world. When we stop focus on growing ourselves and those around us as leaders, we inevitably stagnate. And a stagnated leader or business is bound to fail in the rapidly changing 21st century marketplace.
What should this process look like? The Self-Evolved Leader provides a solid overview of how to lead and lead leaders. Not every chapter will be immediately applicable, but there will be something useful for nearly everyone.
My Favorite Quote: “Your value comes not from saving the day but from equipping your people to deliver on the day-to-day tactics and grow into the best version of themselves so that you can focus on the medium and long-term direction of your team.”
Enneagram and the Way of Jesus
Over the last several years I have spent a good amount of time studying personality theory, how it affects my relationship with Jesus, and how to be more emotionally intelligent. I know some people love the enneagram and some hate it, but I’ve found it helpful, even with it’s limitations.
This book aims to connect the Enneagram with your discipleship, and it came highly recommended from a friend. However, I found it to be less than helpful. It basically looks at each of the nine enneagram personality types, finds a Biblical example that may have been that type, and then explores that person. Is it a terrible idea? No, not at all. Did it resonate with me? Not really. I hope it’s more helpful for you than it was for me.
My Favorite Quote: N/A
McLaughlin takes on 12 of the hardest questions facing Christianity in the 21st century. She’s a brilliant scholar and a gifted writer. Whether you are considering Christianity, dealing with doubts as a Christian, or firm in your faith, this is a must read.
Think of this book as a slightly more accessible version of Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. If I were still teaching high school students, this would be required reading for sure.
My Favorite Quote: “Disagreement is not evidence of disrespect. Indeed, I debate hardest with the people I respect the most, because I take their ideas seriously. But our society seems to be losing the art of debate within friendships, and we instead surround ourselves with people who think like us … If our commitment to diversity is more than skin deep, we must cultivate deep friendships with smart people with whom we fundamentally disagree.”
The Ideal Team Player
If you’ve made it this far, you get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because this book is outstanding. Lencioni identifies three traits of the ideal team player: humble, hungry, and (people) smart. If you want to grow in these areas or build a team with this kind of person, this book has your name written on it.
The best part comes near the end. Lencioni gives some wonderfully practical tips for applying the book in three scenarios: (1) Self-assessment in each area (2) Assessment of an existing team in each area and (3) Assessment of each area in an interview format. I’ll definitely be referring back to this book in the coming months and years.
My Favorite Quote: “It is no great surprise, then, that humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player. Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.”