Recently a friend of mine asked me, “What six books have changed your life?”
This question sent me down a rabbit hole of nostalgia, and instead of a simple list, I ended up with something more like an article.
(Note: I chose to exclude all fiction from my list, so even though Hatchet, The Harry Potter series, and the works of Stephenie Meyer have changed my life, I’ll have to save those for a different list).
This was the first time I ever picked up a book for the sake of learning something. Becoming a better person became a priority in my life, and John Maxwell lays out clear and succinct ways to grow. In many ways the concepts in this book have been the foundation in my life on which all future growth as a leader has been built.
“Next Generation Leader” by Andy Stanley
In all honesty, I don’t remember much about the content of this book. Instead, it was the context in which I read it that made an impact on me. My pastor met with me and a few of my friends every Wednesday morning at McDonald’s, and we read through this book together. Sitting around a table with your peers as you grow together; learning from someone you look up to; This one hour every week left a lasting impression.
“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis
I still can’t believe how many times I opened this book to read and had to close it again after a page, or a paragraph, because my mind was too blown to move on. This book was an awakening for me. For the first time, Christianity became a thinking man’s game, and I loved it. “Mere Christianity” introduced me to the world of C.S. Lewis, whose mind and work continue to challenge my thinking.
“The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom
No other story–book, movie, or heartfelt email forward–has ever made me tear up as many times as this one has. The autobiography of a woman who smuggled Jews out of Holland during World War II, this book reveals the best and worst that humanity has to offer. Seeing both in contrast evokes both a restless anger and a profound hope. The setting of such darkness makes the existence of the light of Jesus in this story seem all the more incredible. This book caused me to understand the value of that light, and it gave me a hunger to always have it in my life.
“The Barbarian Way” by Erwin McManus
This is a book about courage. Its about a bold, passionate pursuit of Christ and his calling on your life. This book came to me at just the right time. I had just graduated high school, and a number of momentous, critical changes were about to take place in my life…or not. Like most people, I had the choice to prevent those changes; to stay where I was comfortable. This book pushed me out of the nest in my journey with Christ. Life has become an adventure. It started with “The Barbarian Way,” and I have never looked back.
“No Perfect People Allowed” by John Burke
Shortly after opening this book, I realized it was going to help me rethink some things about Christianity. My entire worldview had shifted by the time I closed it. I already knew who Jesus was, and I don’t think my relationship with him was inauthentic, but this was something new; something much deeper. It was like a business relationship turned romantic. Christianity was replaced in my life by Jesus.