Reading, Life and Priorities

Recently, I finally had a chance to read Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke (a full review is forthcoming). But one thing that stood out to me right away was the importance he placed on prioritizing your reading. After offering two big categories—there’s the Bible and everything else—Reinke gets breaks down his reading priorities with a little more clarity:

  1. Reading Scripture
  2. Reading to know and delight in Christ
  3. Reading to kindle spiritual reflection
  4. Reading to initiate personal change
  5. Reading to pursue vocational excellence
  6. Reading to enjoy a good story

These are really helpful categories, particularly when we realize the necessity of actually prioritizing what we read. Particularly those of us who wind up reading a LOT in a given year, this is a massive challenge. Just like in the rest of life, when we fail to actually express our priorities, the things that we say matter will quickly go by the wayside. In reading, it’s easy to get side-tracked, spending too much time either reading bad books that you hope will get better (and not feeling like you have “permission” to drop it), or legitimately good books that they overshadow your time in Scripture. Yet as valuable as all reading is (with the exception of bad books), we cannot forget that first priority—Scripture has to come first. But even then, that’s sometimes easier said than done.

I spend a fair amount of time in the Word on a daily basis, but lately I’ve seen a real tension in trying to make sure it’s not just time spent considering something I’m working on (whether it be a part of a book or a blog post). Those are legitimate things to be doing, but they can sometimes be utilitarian activities. One of the ways that I’m trying to compensate for this is simply reading the Bible at the table during breakfast and whenever possible talking about what I’m reading. Doing so provides a number of benefits:

  1. My children see me reading my Bible (accountability)
  2. I get to talk to them about it if there’s a particular thought that occurs
  3. It gets my day started in the right place

If you’re having trouble with your reading priorities, here are some questions to consider (and discuss in the comments):

  1. What kind of priorities do you have in place for your reading?
  2. How are you guarding your time in the Word?
  3. Where have you noticed a weakness—and what are you doing in response?

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.

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4 Replies to “Reading, Life and Priorities”

  1. Really good thought you have shared here which will also be helpful to youth development.

  2. […] into the practical application, Reinke quickly moves through priorities in reading (short version: Scripture, then everything else), 20 tips for reading non-fiction, a few benefits […]

  3. […] 6. Reading to enjoy a good story -– Reading, LIfe and Priorities […]

  4. It’s interesting that we appear to have taken the same approach from different angles. I decided (a bit late) to take up Tim Challies’ 3650 challenge, and so am using Prof Horner’s Bible System. And I’ve been doing (most of) it in the mornings, including at breakfast with the kids, in part because of the reason you mention – so they see me reading the Bible. 

    (They always want to see the bookmarks, so I have to hand them across, and then tell them what’s on them, which has been a learning experience….)

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