Improvement through reading

Its said that “leaders are readers.” I often like to ask peers what they are reading, and why they are reading what they are reading. In this month’s IMPROVEMENT section, we get to meet three leaders, serving in different roles in different places. Find out what books (other than the Scripture) have had the most influence in these three leader’s lives, and why they recommend them.

(Click the images for more information)


Jessica Schultz

Campus Pastor - Grace North, Anthem AZ |


"Pilgrims Progress” by John Bunyan

As a child who grew up in church, I can't identify the moment I gave my heart to Jesus. I do know that when I was in third grade my dad offered me a reward system for reading challenging works. The first assignment was a full version of The Pilgrims Progress. For the first time, I had deep understanding of my need for Jesus and the struggle I faced as a lost person without Him.  I found myself confronting my own inner “Christian” and committing to a journey of following Christ. This book confirmed by commitment as a disciple of Jesus Christ. 


"The Spirit of the Disciplines” by Dallas Willard

This book consistently calls me back to the basics. When I have overcomplicated my routines before the Lord or slipped into a dry, performance driven rut, this reminds me of value of spiritual disciplines. As a person who resists practices that feel “religious”, it is easy to devalue the practice spiritual disciplines. This book broke that cycle in my life. 


"Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life” by Henri J. Nouwen

Even as a “people person" I find myself lonely and isolated. This book reminds me reaching in to maintain personal health, Reaching out to others to grow in relational health and reaching up to the God as my source of health and strength.



Brandon Ahu

Assistant Pastor - Metro Church, Honolulu HI |


"Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry" by Ruth Haley Barton

Hardship and difficulties in ministry are plenty.  But the spiritual disciplines that help us to pursue God and persevere are invaluable to continue serving him.  

Hardship and difficulties in ministry are plenty.  But the spiritual disciplines that help us to pursue God and persevere are invaluable to continue serving him.  



"The Emotionally Healthy Church" by Pete Scazerro

Knowing the bible is great, but if we are not living balanced lives than we are still immature.  This book challenged me to look at other aspects of my life and leadership, especially in the area of emotional maturity.  



"The Ascent of a Leader" by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and Ken McElrath

If it is true that we lead out of who we are, then character counts for much more than we realize.  This book presents two very different ladders of success and challenged me to examine which I am climbing.  Relationships of grace are paramount to developing character as a leader.  



Joe Hogan

Associate Pastor - Cornerstone Church, Anaheim CA |


“Carpe Diem” by Tony Campolo

First book that comes to my mind that helped me to take risk and embrace everyday with passion and purpose.  I had a few bible studies with Tony Campolo in the early years of my ministry and have a few stories of my own that looking back now were started listening to Tony’s stories. 



“The Divine Mentor” by Wayne Cordeiro

Working in young adult ministries over these past 20 years, Wayne’s book has been a must read for all my interns.  No greater mentors and relationship to cultivate than the men and women of the scripture’s.  A common ingredient for success of great leaders is the ability for them to seek after mentors.  Wayne helps those looking for mentors to find it in the scriptures themselves.  I have passed around my copy so often I’d like to get it back.   


“Crazy Love” by Francis Chan

Francis has raised the bar of what it means to put love into action.  People are to follow us as we follow Christ.  Crazy Love has helped me to focus on one thing.  Not just study the teachings of Jesus Christ but to follow through with them.  You will not read the bible the same, since it’s not a book just to be studied but lived out.