EVERY century we see amazing progress on this planet. The 1800s were no exception. This time period witnessed the creation of the cotton gin, tires, railroads, telegraph technology, and the steamboat, to name just a few things. Also, for those of us who love food, the 1800s produced the hot dog, potato chips, cotton candy, the can-opener, and Coca Cola! The 1800s also produced one of the best preachers who ever lived: Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He ran a school for preachers and had a desire to teach men how to preach. One of the things he emphasized was the importance of reading. He once said, “The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read.”
I find that quote very amusing and true, and I would like to echo the words of Mr. Spurgeon: you need to read. I can tell you from my own experience with life and learning that reading has and continues to be the one of the two most important parts of my growth. The only thing that has rivaled reading, in terms of my own growth as a human being, is talking with people who are readers. Think about the people you respect, the people you enjoy listening to, the people from whom you seek counsel. I bet most of them are readers, aren’t they?
Readers rule the world! A negative example of this would be Hitler. A positive example of this would be Jesus. Both of them were readers. Most successful people are readers. Consider the classic case of Ben Carson. Some of you may know the name. He grew up with the odds against him. But, early on, his mother limited his television watching and started encouraging reading. What became of that? Not much. He only became one of the most recognizable and respected neurosurgeons in the world! He is a professor and director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, and one of many illustrations I could cite about the importance of reading. Dr. Carson said he found his love for neurology through reading. Author Joe Love said, “There is an unwritten law that says, to earn more, you must learn more. The future belongs to the competent. And the race is on. America today is not divided into the lower, middle, and upper classes. Rather, America is divided into those who know less, those who know more but do very little with it, and those who know a lot more and do a lot with it.”
You might be saying, “Okay, okay, you’re preaching to the choir.” All right then, what keeps us from reading? Here are a few things I thought of: one, television. Enough said. Two, laziness. I tell my kids that successful people practice as a habit what failures refuse to try at all. Reading is work. You have to pick the book up, move your eyes back and forth, think, and organize your thoughts. Lazy people don’t want to do this, but they should. Three, reading is not “cool.” Allow me to take you to an average high school. The cool people aren’t reading; they are texting, talking on their cells, chilling, or iPod-ing, my invented word. Only nerds read, right? Wrong! Reading is cool because being cool is about being intelligent, educated, and equipped to fulfill your passions and serve humanity. Four, many people simply don’t like to read. If I had a penny for every time I hear this statement, I could probably afford an iPhone. Reading, however, is for us. Therefore, we need to read even when we don’t “feel” like it. Five, people tell me they don’t have the time. Make the time. You will be better off if you do.
I want you to be a better person. I want you to be a better father, mother, son, daughter, worker, business owner and friend. I want you to fulfill your dreams and be happier. I am convinced that you will be better off if you read. “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”—Mark Twain.