Chances are you’re facing some down time. A good opportunity to gain perspective.

It’s easy to get caught in a ministry loop of diminishing returns. We go round and round our well-worn routes, unable to break into new ideas. How do we find new paths for ministry? One way is to pick up a good book. Ministry leaders and innovators need to be readers.

Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest, was convinced that leaders need to be readers. When his friend, John Skidmore, found himself in a ministry cul-de-sac — emotionally and spiritually emptied from teaching and preaching — he shared his struggle with Chambers.

“What do you read?” asked Chambers.

“Only the Bible and books directly associated with it,” Skidmore told him.

“That’s the trouble,” Chambers replied. “You have allowed part of your brain to stagnate for want of use.”

Chambers quickly scribbled out a list of more than fifty books. In a follow-up letter to Skidmore, Oswald said: “When people refer to a man as a man of one Book, meaning the Bible, he is generally found to be a man of multitudinous books, which simply isolates the one Book to its proper grandeur.”

When we travel our traditional paths, our brains stagnate from lack of use. Reading, and reading broadly, is one of the greatest developmental experiences that leaders can do. Through books, we participate in great debates, inhale the wisdom of distant mentors, and are challenged to escape our normal ruts of thinking.

This next 10 days, be sure to rest, pray, love, and read.

[Much of this advice came to us years ago from Bill Mowry and Randy Raysbrook, friends from The Navigators. It’s good counsel.]