I hate it when that happens.
You see, as a blogger, when a friend writes a book – especially when it’s a book about pastoral ministry – I’m expected to read it. Then I’m expected to tell everyone how great it is.
But what if it isn’t any good? I still have to read it. But I can’t tell everyone how great it is, if it isn’t. Then how do I tell a friend I don’t like their book?
So I opened up Dave’s book with a little bit of fear. “Please be good!” I silently pleaded.
When I started reading it, I stopped worrying.
Soon, I started smiling.
Then I started cheering.
At about the fourth chapter, I stopped reading.
I set it down. And I considered what to do next.
A Book to Savor
I didn’t stop because Mile Wide, Inch Deep is hard to read. It’s not. In fact, it’s very short and very easy to read. I could have knocked it off in an afternoon.
I stopped reading because I quickly realized that Dave Jacobs has written a book that wasn’t meant to be knocked off in afternoon. Not even for a guy who wants to write a blog post about it.
It’s an easy read, but not an easy “do”.
Dave asks his readers not to rush through the book. And he’s right. So I did what the book requires.
I read it slowly because it’s the kind of book that needs to be read slowly. It’s witty, funny, fresh and deceptively deep. Just like Dave.
In each short chapter, Dave leads us into an important, often overlooked, aspect of the typical pastor’s over-busy life and asks us to consider the value of slowing down and going deep.
So I did that. I read a chapter a day and let the truths of that chapter sit with me. Sometimes, I’d let it sit for two or three days. Sometimes I’d re-read the chapter the next day and get even more out of it.
A Book that Reads You
It’s been said there are some books that you read and some books that read you. The bible is the ultimate book that reads you. I’m not comparing Dave’s book to the bible, of course, but Mile Wide, Inch Deep is one of the books that will read you, if you let it.
In it, Dave asks us, with his trademark combination of graciousness and bluntness (someone once called it the velvet-covered brick) “how are you and God really doing?” He tackles such issues as our idolatry to busyness, our lack of a devotional life, our tendency to use the bible exclusively as sermon material, etc.
To give you an idea of where he takes his readers, here are a few quotes:
“Great pastors are organized, focused and productive without the sense of being driven, hurried or busy.” (p 8)
“It’s easier to convince myself that my ambition is holy than it is for me to actually have holy ambition.” (p 20)
“It’s hard to be content in ministry because we’re trying to produce results that are hard to measure.” (p 37)
“Pastoring is not complicated, but it is hard. …God and people are slow. Discipleship takes time. Growing a healthy church is slow work.” (p 45)
“The bible wasn’t given to us primarily for our sermons, but for our souls.” (p 71)
“The greatest need today is for pastors who know God deeply and experience God regularly.” (p 110)
And you need to read his chapters on demystifying monks and mystics. They don’t lend themselves to quick, out-of-context quotes, but they are worth the price of the book, all by themselves. And they helped me understand why Dave’s Twitter handle is @ThinkMonk.
Where to Get More
I’ve written about Dave and his ministry before. Click here to read about his important coaching ministry to Small Church pastors.
No, I’m not making any money from it. I just like it.
I more than like it. I think it matters.
So what do you think? Have you read Mile Wide, Inch Deep? If so, what’s your take on it?
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