How to get more out of what you're reading
Yesterday I started teaching a spring course at Fuller in Pasadena. It’s called Youth Ministry Communication, and it’s capped at 17 students because the students actually give two different talks during class time as part of their workload. I love this course for many reasons, one of which is that I get to know 17 Fuller students pretty well over the course of the quarter.
The other reason is that I learn more about good communication every time I teach it. Yesterday, we spent part of the first course watching a video by Dr. Howard Hendricks, a long-time Homiletics/Communication professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. I play this video every time I teach this course, during the first day the course meets, because of its focus on who the communicator is, and the importance of who that person is in the midst of the communication process.
Hendricks says that to be a good teacher, you need to have a consistent study and reading program. No surprise there. Like Hendricks, I agree that readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.
But then Hendricks takes his argument a step further. He claims that we read too much and reflect too little. He invites anyone who wants to teach others to adapt a new pattern of reading: read for 30 minutes, and then reflect for 30 minutes, and so on.
I’ve never been able to follow that advice but it does match a mantra in my head that bears out to be true almost day in my life and ministry: Less is more.
So often I will read a book and then a month later try to summarize the main points of the book to someone else, and I can’t. Why? I can’t really remember much of what the book said. Why? Because I’ve probably read 4 books since then.
I don’t know that I’ll be able to do the 30/30 plan that Hendricks recommends. But I’m guessing that even if I did 10 minutes - or even 5 minutes - of reflection for every 30 minutes of reading, I’d remember more. And be transformed more.
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