A few days ago I highlighted a “shocking Bible contradiction.” I’ve listened here and on Facebook to some great points that have helped me consider these two passages and how they fit together. I want to share a fundamental issue that will help us as we study these passages (and all others).
(If you need to know what this is all about, start with the first in the series and follow the links.)
Today, I want to…
Read Something Worth Sharing
A wise man said, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” There are just a lot of things to read out there. Over 170,000 books are published each year. Over 10,000 magazines are published each year. These statistics are just for the U.S. There are newspapers for every major city. Blogs have gone wild. My Google Reader inbox is insane. I can’t keep my e-mail empty.
There is simply too much to read.
However, you don’t need to read everything. Just because something has been written, doesn’t mean it is worth sharing. Just because something makes its way onto Amazon.com or into Barnes and Noble, doesn’t mean you need to waste any time on it. You want to read things worth sharing.
You want to read things that so impact your life, you can’t help but pass them on to people. This can run the gambit of genres. You can read business books, self-help books, science fiction, mysteries, cooking magazines, and on the list goes. Some things are worth sharing for their entertainment value. There really is some benefit in the temporary escape offered through books. Some things are worth sharing because of their informative value. If it can help you be a better blogger, then it will help you with your first goal of writing things worth reading, won’t it? Some things are worth sharing for their educational value. We all have to learn sometimes. Some things are worth sharing for their inspirational value. None of us are just a perpetual bundle of self-motivation. We can always use help. Some things are worth sharing for their spiritual value. We need connection to God regularly to survive being stuck on this planet.
2. Read humbly.
3. Quit reading things not worth sharing.
I know. This seems just too obvious to state. However, did you notice that “read something worth sharing” started with “read something”? You can’t possibly read something worth sharing if you don’t read. This is the number one killer on this goal. Most folks just don’t want to read. I know you are already working on this, because you are reading right now. I hope what you are reading is worth sharing.
Either way, if you want to continue this goal. You are going to have to keep reading. Don’t stop with this post. In reality, with all the junk out there to read, if you want to read something worth sharing, you are going to have to read a lot.
Don’t whine, “But I don’t like to read.” Maybe you just aren’t blessed with a natural desire to read. Maybe you never developed that habit. However, the problem more likely is you’ve not read much worth sharing. Or, you’ve probably only been forced to read what others thought was worth sharing and you just didn’t get into it. That’s fine. We won’t all see the same things as worth sharing. However, don’t stop reading. Keep on reading. Make it a daily goal to read something. This is the absolute first step.
Of course, I can’t get past this point without giving you an easy leg up on accomplishing this. I believe a great place to start is read your Bible. Read it every day. In my experience, there is something life-changing and share-worthy on every page. Every day I read, I find something worth sharing. You can find my shares at giveattentiontoreading.com. I hope you find them worthy of sharing.
2. Read humbly.
I once heard the story of a young man seeking a Zen master. He approached him and said, “Master, I want you to teach me.” He then listed all the things he had studied, learned, and mastered. In his mind, how could any teacher not want such an accomplished and well-developed student? The Zen master said, “I want to show you something. Do you promise to do exactly what I tell you?” “Yes, Master,” the would-be disciple replied, still trying to impress.
The master instructed the young man to pour tea into a cup and not stop until told to do so. The cup filled quickly. The young man kept pouring. The tea sloshed into the saucer. The young man kept pouring. It splashed onto the table. The young man kept pouring. It streamed onto the floor. The young man kept pouring. Finally, the kettle was empty and the young man said, “Now there is just a big mess. This was pointless.” The master said, “You are like the cup of tea. You are so full of your own knowledge, any attempt on my part to pour more knowledge in to you would be pointless and only cause a mess.”
Some could go even to the Bible and not read things worth sharing. They are too full of themselves to see what is worth sharing. You will only ever read things worth sharing when you read with humility. Set aside what you think you know and listen for a while. You might be surprised at what you read that is worth sharing.
Don’t misunderstand. Before sharing, you need to think critically. You need to reason and determine if what was written is worth sharing. However, if you read with a closed and prejudiced mind you’ll never read anything worth sharing. If you read only to see if people already agree with you, you’ll never read anything worth sharing.
The fact is, for me, the things I have found most worth sharing are those that have broadened my perspective, changed my mind, enlightened my soul. Very rarely were the things I have found most worth sharing merely things that just reaffirmed what I already thought. To be honest, if it is what I already think, I don’t want to read something worth sharing about it, I want to write something worth reading about it.
3. Quit reading things that are not worth sharing.
I have a terrible quirk. Once I start reading something, I feel like I have to finish it otherwise I have failed. I have slogged through some of the worst stuff just to say I finished something. I have to get over that. Let’s face it, even the humblest people find some things that simply aren’t worth sharing. The majority of the magazines at your gas station check out stand top that list.
Your goal is to read something worth sharing. If you begin to realize what you are reading now isn’t, put it down and move on to something else. Of course, the real problem is you sometimes like to read those guilty pleasures. There are some things not worth sharing because they shouldn’t be read at all, but they give you a little thrill. Get over that thrill. It is not worth the long term negative impact they have. They fill your mind with gossip, slander, immorality, discouragement, pointless arguing. If your mind is filled with that junk, so will your life. In fact, you begin to learn that you are sharing what you are reading whether it is worth sharing or not. As many have said, the only differences between you now and you this time last year are the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read. Don’t waste your time with what is not worth sharing no matter what kind of inner thrill it gives you. You don’t need to share that stuff; don’t share in it.
Like I said earlier there is just too much out there to read. Since you are going to have to read a lot to read something really worth sharing, put it down when you realize it isn’t worth sharing. Move on without regret. Oh, I’m sure an argument can be made that if we are humble enough, a nugget of gold can be found in even the most worthless readings. True. Yet, most miners realize the cost of digging is not worth just one little nugget. Reading has an opportunity cost. If it is not paying off, don’t keep hoping to find some little nugget. Move on to something else that has an entire golden vein.
Finally, if you read something worth sharing, do us all a favor. Share.
(Come back next Wednesday to learn about Saying Something Worth Repeating.)
Would you like to improve your children’s ability to communicate effectively? Would you like to help them improve their vocabulary and sentence structure as they talk? Are you tired of sentences filled with “Ums,” “Uhs,” “You knows,” “likes,” “he goes,” and “she goes” and all other violence done to the language of our fathers? Would you like to help your children learn to speak publicly? Would you like to help them have confidence when they open their mouths?
There is a key that helps with all of this. No, I’m not saying it is the panacea for all our generational communication gap woes. Nor am I saying it is foolproof or failproof. But it will really help.
READ TO YOUR CHILDREN!
Yes, absolutely. Read to them. I don’t care how old they are. If they live in your home, read to them. Obviously read age appropriate stuff. If your kids are ages 2 and 5, War and Peace is not likely to help much. At the same time, if your kids are 14 and 16, they may not go for Cat in the Hat after dinner.
Read to your kids before they know how. Read to them when they say, “I’m too old for this.” Read to them together. Read to them separately. Read to them Mom. Read to them Dad. Encourage them to read to each other. Let them read to you.
Don’t force them to only read classics. Let them read anything (provided it fits within the bounds of your standards of propriety, etc.). Maybe the only like to read sports related books, while you wish they would read To Kill a Mockingbird or The Illiad. Listen, any reading will help them.
Further, let them see you reading. Dads, don’t let your boys grow up thinking reading is for girls. Moms, don’t let your girls grow up thinking reading is men’s work. Just read to them.
Trust me, it will help (even if you can’t always tell).
If you wondering how to start, Jim Trelease has a great book The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition (Read-Aloud Handbook). It explains why and how. It even provides a list of great books to read at different age levels. Get it and get started.