The latest edition of “On My Shelf” (Oct.25, 2016), a book and author feature published by the Gospel Coalition features well-known author/pastor Tim Challies.
Below is a portion of the interview with him. Find out what books have influenced Challies and what he is currently reading (and why he keeps a Kindle by his beside instead of a stack of books). For the rest of the interview, use the link below.
What books have most profoundly shaped how you serve and lead others for the sake of the gospel?
When I’m asked this question, I always go back to a handful of books I discovered and read at just the right points in life: The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul gave me a glimpse of God’s holiness and an awareness of my desperate lack of holiness; The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges showed me the centrality of the gospel in all of life and taught me how to preach it to myself day by day; Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen taught me why and how to put sin to death. More recently, Al Mohler’s The Conviction to Lead helped me consider the importance of deep convictions and leadership that flows out of those convictions. Mohler promises that his book will change the way the reader leads, and he delivers on that promise. These are all books I’ve read repeatedly and recommend often.
What’s the best piece of wisdom you’ve learned over the years of reading?
I think it has to be the idea that I can’t judge a book’s effect only by what I remember of it a week or a month later. I’ve learned to trust that a book does something to me in the reading, not just in the remembrance. I find this comforting since I so often find I don’t remember a whole lot about a book after reading it. Sometimes I don’t even remember reading it at all! Still, I trust it has benefited me in some way. Sermons are like that too, I think—they do something in us in the moment, even if we can’t exactly quantify it later on.
Apart from that, it would be the value of deliberately varying my reading. It’s easy to read narrowly but far more difficult to read widely. It’s been fun to challenge myself to read a variety of books spanning a variety of categories and to press myself to keep mixing it up every year.