My Top 5 Books of 2019

2019 is almost over, which means it’s time for the annual round up of the best books I read during the past twelve months:

  1. The Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning
    How dangerous is sin? In his book, Venning delves into Scripture to show the reader how destructive sin is to the individual, to the culture, and to nature. Venning’s vivid imagery displays how vile sin is and points to Christ as the only possible remedy and escape, through faith and repentance. This book is especially poignant for American Christians today who live in a society in which sin isn’t taken seriously–in fact some sins are even celebrated. The Sinfulness of Sin will remind you that sin is the enemy of every human and motivate you to more diligently fight against it in pursuit of the holiness that Christ has called us to.

    Be as willing to die to sin as Christ was to die for sin, and as willing to live to Him as He was to die for you. Be as willing to be His, to serve Him, as that He should be yours to save you. Take Him on His own terms, give up yourself wholly to Him.” -Ralph Venning

  2. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
    Is it better to specialize early, specialize late, or not specialize at all? That is the question that Epstein seeks to answer in Range. Epstein begins the book by debunking the “cult of the head start”–the idea that it is better focus on one skill or a narrow set of skills as early as possible in order to master it. While this does work in some arenas that are based primarily on repetition, pattern recognition, and muscle memory (golf, chess, etc), it doesn’t translate to problem-solving or strategic-thinking fields. Epstein spends the rest of the book sharing research demonstrating the ways in which a more generalized approach to learning translates better to the “knowledge economy” in which we find ourselves today. Exposure to a variety of situations as well as cultivating curiosity in diverse interests tends to translate to better learning, and more importantly, better application of the learning.

    “Breadth of training predicts breadth of transfer. That is, the more contexts in which something is learned, the more the learner creates abstract models, and the less they rely on any particular example.” -David Epstein

  3. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson
    I picked up Peterson’s book in an effort to better understand his worldview after I kept hearing his name pop up and after watching some of his videos on YouTube. In 12 Rules for Life, he outlines 12 principles for finding meaning in the midst of chaos. Many of his 12 rules are common sense ideas grounded in Judeo-Christian teaching, but have fallen out of fashion with the recent shift towards relativism and secularism. As society has been uprooted from it’s foundation, it has left many searching for purpose, which according to Peterson, is at the core of many of the societal struggles present today. Peterson doesn’t claim to make any profound observations in his book, but is simply collecting and reiterating ancient wisdom that correlates with human flourishing. What’s intriguing about Peterson to me as a Christian is that he gets so much right and is so close to the biblical understanding of sin and the need for redemption; however, he comes up short of seeing Jesus for who He is, the Bible for what it is, and, as a result, the true antidote for chaos that is found by grace through faith in Christ alone. Regardless, 12 Rules is a fast read full of wisdom for facing challenges and living a purposeful life.

    “You need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged.” -Jordan Peterson

  4. Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches by Peter Greer and Chris Horst
    Has your organization started to stray from its founding mission? Over time, many do–either in the pursuit of money or due to a poor succession plan, an eroding culture, or any number of other compromises. One of the often overlooked responsibilities of leadership is to steward the organization’s culture and ensure focus on the mission in the face of growth, time, and pressure. Because of this, Mission Drift is a meaningful read for anyone in leadership.The principles in this book are a gut-check for leaders who must stay vigilant of Mission Drift and set the expectations for those they lead. While the book is geared towards nonprofits, ministries, and churches, the underlying lessons apply to for-profit organizations as well (which would make a great follow up to this book).

    “In its simplest form, Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul.” -Peter Greer and Chris Horst

  5. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall
    How does geography impact the political and economic decisions of a nation or people group? Often in more ways than we may think. In Prisoners of Geography, Marshall looks at 10 maps of the world and explains how geography has played a key role in the lives of the people who live there. Some of the examples demonstrate why conflict is so common in certain areas while others explain how geography has helped some kingdoms and countries thrive. This was an interesting read and a good introduction to geopolitics for the layperson.

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. For those that enjoy reading, I recommend setting up a Goodreads profile (it’s also a great way to keep track of what’s in your library). If you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading now and what I’ve read in the past, check out my Goodreads profile. Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books or do have a book that would recommend reading in 2020? Share your recommendations in the Comments below.

BONUS: My Top 5 Books of 2018 || My Top 5 Books of 2017 || My Top 5 Books of 2016 || My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

My Top 5 Books of 2018

books2018

2018 is almost over, which means it’s time for the annual round up of the best books I read during the past twelve months:

  1. The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson
    Think you know the 10 Commandments? Thomas Watson’s commentary on the 10 Commandments (part of his Body of Practical Divinity trilogy) will take you much deeper into each of the commandments. Following Jesus’ example in the gospels, Watson applies each command not just to outward action but to an internal reality–the state of a person’s heart (see Matthew 5, Mark 10, and Luke 18). Watson skillfully expounds on the breadth and depth of the 10 Commandments’ role in the Christian’s life, giving both a framework for holiness and instruction for obedience. While emphasizing the importance of the Law, he does not do so at the expense of the mercy and grace found through faith in Christ. Watson’s The Ten Commandments is a needed reminder for those who have grown up hearing, but not meditating on, the Commandments their whole life. Thou shalt read this book.

    “Love is an industrious affection; it sets the head studying for God, the hands working, feet running in the ways of his commandments.” -Thomas Watson

  2. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
    In Shoe Dog, Phil Knight tells the story of NIKE’s conception through it’s IPO.  This book isn’t your typical autobiography as it focuses more on the people surrounding Knight and his philosophy of business than it does on the author himself. The story of NIKE is one of determination in the face of challenging circumstances and the isolation of many people doubting the viability of the venture. It is a testament to just how far innovation, passion, and commitment (or some would say stubbornness) can go in bringing an idea to life. Knight not only gives insight into his management philosophy, but is also transparent about the toll it took on his personal life–in particular his relationship with his sons. Shoe Dog is a fast-paced and enjoyable read, even for those who don’t typically enjoy biographies. The book definitely lives up to the hype that has surrounded it since it came out. Go pick up a copy and read it–Just do it.

    “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” -Phil Knight

  3. Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ by Andrew David Naselli and J.D. Crowley
    When was the last time you spent time you heard a sermon or lesson on the conscience? If you answered “when I watched Pinocchio”, then you should pick up Conscience by Naselli and Crowley. In this book, the authors purpose is to explain what the conscience is and persuade you that it is something you should be paying more attention to, especially if you are a Christian. Nasellli and Crowley emphasize that, while the conscience is not on par with Scripture or the conviction of the Holy Spirit, it is still a God-given gift to every human being. The conscience isn’t static, but can be trained–either actively or passively–to hopefully be more aligned with God’s will, but can also be seared towards certain actions through repeated violation of the conscience’s “warning system.” In addition, since each person’s conscience is unique, the authors encourage readers to not intentionally lead someone to violate their conscience (no matter how ridiculous we may think their view is), but to rather patiently help them align their views with those found in Scripture so that they might experience the fullness of the gifts that God has given us to enjoy. Conscience draws upon multiple biblical passages in addition to the authors’ experiences in a variety of US and international contexts to make a strong case for paying more attention to the state of your conscience while providing practical tips for how that works itself in your daily life and relationships with others.

    “Because God is the Lord of your conscience, he expects you as a mature believer to gradually adjust your conscience to match God’s will as Scripture reveals it. To train and educate your conscience is not to sin against it but to put it under the lordship of Christ.” -Naselli and Crowley

  4. Grace: God’s Unmerited Favor by C.H. Spurgeon
    What makes salvation possible? In this short book, C.H. Spurgeon highlights the primacy of God’s grace in making salvation possible and in continuing to sustain His people until the end. Grace is a series of easy-to-understand expositions of key passages in which the author shows that God’s grace is the cornerstone of Christianity. The book will create an even greater appreciation and thankfulness for the lengths that God has gone to in order to redeem people from the snares of their sinfulness. Spurgeon concludes the book with twelve mercies for those whom God has made a covenant with:

    1. Saving knowledge
    2. God’s law written in men’s hearts
    3. Free pardon
    4. Reconciliation
    5. True godliness
    6. Continuance in grace
    7. Cleansing
    8. Renewed nature
    9. Holy conduct
    10. Happy self-loathing
    11. Communion w/ God
    12. Necessary chastisement

      “God observes us, all lost and ruined, and in his infinite mercy comes with absolute promises of grace to those whom he has given to his Son Jesus.” -C.H. Spurgeon

  5. Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Build, Coach, and Lead Your Most Productive Sales Team by Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk
    “Sales enablement” is a relatively new term in the business world. It is a discipline that stands at the intersection of sales, marketing, operations, strategy, and communications. As with most new disciplines, there is a level of ambiguity as to what it actually is, which is where Matthews and Schenk’s book comes in. Their book is designed to not only define the term, but outline what it should look like within a company. Sales Enablement uses both objective and subjective data that Miller Heiman Group has collected from organizations of various sizes and compiles it into an actionable framework for businesspeople. The book puts a lot of emphasis on beginning the implementation of a sales enablement discipline with a charter and a plan, recognizing that businesses of various sizes will have different capacities for different sized teams with varying access to resources. While some of the examples tend to favor larger organizations, this is still a very practical read for people in small and medium sized businesses as well, especially if you are doing high-value B2B sales.

    “Sales force enablement is a strategic, cross-functional discipline, designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and sales managers along the entire customer’s journey, powered by technology.” -Matthews and Schenk

 

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. For those that enjoy reading, I recommend setting up a Goodreads profile (it’s also a great way to keep track of what’s in your library). If you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading now and what I’ve read in the past, check out my Goodreads profile. Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books or do have a book that would recommend reading in 2019? Share your recommendations in the Comments below.

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

BONUS:  My Top 5 Books of 2017 || My Top 5 Books of 2016 || My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

%d bloggers like this: