As I think back through the years, I realize that I’ve always been a reader. Some of my earliest  memories of my mother was seeing her fast asleep on the couch with a book in her lap. At either end of that same couch were stacks of books. She was always reading, always making trips to the library. 

 I grew up in Palm Springs, California in the 1950’s. We use to say that it could be 123 degrees in the shade and there weren’t no shade. For years we had no central air conditioning in our home near downtown, but one of the few  places that did have it was the public library. I spent lots of time there during the summer months reading and staying out of the noon day sun.

I remain a voracious reader to this day, for which I thank my mother. My focus is primarily on leadership related topics, as my calling and gifting lie in pouring into leaders so that they finish their race well. I read about politics, history, sports, business and the church, looking for leadership ideas I can practice as well as pass along in my coaching, writing and seminars. 

I have also made it a firm habit to read my Bible most every day since first becoming a Christian at age 20. Bible reading, meditation and Scripture memory  is the foundation and starting point for all my other reading. Over the last 25 years or so I have read quite a bit in Eugene Peterson’s  translation of the Bible—The Message. 

To my surprise and joy, a friend sent me a copy of his authorized biography “A Burning In My Bones” by Winn Collier.  It exponentially increased my joy in reading The Message now that I know a bit more about the author. Here are two quotes from the biography that I’ve been thinking about:

1) “All I want to do is become a saint—but secretly, so no one knows it—a saint without any trappings. Every detail of routine and imagination, every letter I write, phone call made, gesture and encounter—gathered and placed on the altar bound— every day another trek to Moriah.” 

I love the statement my daughter Anna often uses, “I’m living on the other side of surrender.” As I think about daily taking another trek to Moriah, where Abraham was willing to offer his son, I realize how important it is for me as a Christ-follower to not hold too tightly to anything or anyone but Jesus. “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give” is the song I try to “live in” and be reminded of multiple times a day. It’s too tempting and too easy to think and say, MY will be done, My kingdom come. 

2) The more people sought after him, the more he feared for his soul. “The insidious pedestal. The seduction of celebrity. I fear a huge discrepancy between who I am and who people think I am—the prominence, the applause—there is a depersonalizing aspect to it. I know so much more than I live.” Eugene loathed the notoriety. 

In a day when well-known leaders are put on a pedestal and almost worshipped for their gifts, personalities and accomplishments, it’s encouraging, sobering and convicting to hear a well known-leader say that he loathed notoriety and speak of the insidiousness, seduction, intoxication, prominence and applause which can often follow success. 

Not very many leaders can stay humble, dependent and teachable when success comes early and quickly. One verse that rocks my boat is Mark 10:42,43 in (you guessed it) The Message. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around , He said, and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you.” 

Jesus, please don’t let this happen to me or any of the leaders who read this. By the power of your Holy Spirit, keep us all humble, giving you the credit and glory for whatever degree of success any of us may experience. 

“Not to us , O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1 ESV.