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Top 10 Books that Have Influenced my Life

Posted on December 24th, 2010

I was asked recently the following question: “What, besides the Bible, have been the top 10 books that have influenced your formation in Christ and leadership?” The following is my answer. They are not in order of importance or rank. 1. Let Your Life Speak. Parker Palmer. Filled with powerful insights integrating faithfulness to God to faithfulness to your true self. 2. New Seeds of Contemplation. Thomas Merton. Written out of years of solitude and silence. Many of his short chapters need to be prayed in a lectio divina fashion, not simply read. 3. Under the Unpredictable Plant. Eugene Peterson.  Brilliant exegesis and application of Jonah to pastoral leadership and the reality of serving Christ with sinners in Nineveh rather than live in the “ecclesiastical pornography” of illusions. 4. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Written in the 1850’s, it remains one of the most powerful accounts to understand racism and slavery in America. Transformed my understanding of the race issue in the USA. 5. The Dark Night of the Soul. John of the Cross. No writer brings a healthy integration of loss, suffering and spiritual formation like this 16th century Carmelite. 6. Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Benedicta Ward.  I have been meditating on these sayings for almost ten years now as part of my time with God.  Require meditation 7. Generation to Generation. Ed Friedman. A seminal book on systems thinking, written by a rabbi, essential to leading any church or organization. 8. A Grace Disguised. Jerry Sittser. The best book on the theological nuances/complexities of grief and loss. Written out of indescribable loss and tragedy. 9. The Making of a Leader. Bob Clinton. Well-researched and written. I have returned to his insights again and again for perspective on how God makes leaders over the long haul. 10. Americas: The Changing Face of Latin America and the Caribbean. Peter Winn. This book enabled me to understand the global, historical and cultural dynamics of skin color and how they inform our churches, politics, cultures and families.

Runner Ups: Return of the Prodigal Son. Henri Nouwen. This book has brought be back, again and again, to the riches of grace in the gospel like no other. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Alex Halley.  Forthright and in your face. Sabbath. Wayne Muller. Devotional, rich, filled with insights. Thoughts? Additions? Comments?

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