How to Become an Intentional Reader (Part 1)

Reading has become one of the most powerful tools I use to grow as a person, pastor, parent and leader. If you want to be better in any area of your life, invest in a book and read on the subject.

For the last few years I have decided to become intentional about how I spend my personal development time. I have set monthly and yearly goals for how many books I will read.

To stay motivated and overcome the times that I don’t have the willpower to read, I am usually reading two or three books at the same time. That way, depending on how I feel I always have a book that I can read to match my mood or available energy.

Book 1 is usually ministry related. Something about leading ministry in the local church.

Book 2 is usually personal development, self help or leadership development. A book to help me expand my thinking.

Book 3 is the new book I have just found out about or a book that was recently referred to me. I usually don’t complete book 3 until later.  I pick it up, skim it and then if it makes the cut I add it to my reading list on  If it doesn’t, I give it away.

In this 3 part series I will share:

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read. – Mark Twain

My Intentional Approach To Reading

  1. Read the right books: Nearly every book I read is referred to me by someone who is further along in their leadership, parenting, or ministry journey than I am.  If a book doesn’t cut it than I don’t waste my time, I pass it along and move on.  There are millions of books to read. I choose to only invest my time in the good ones.
  2. Read 30 min a day: This might seem small, but you will be amazed at how many books you will complete by making incremental progress toward a simple goal.
  3. Read at the same time everyday: I read first thing when I wake up or last thing before I go to bed. This works for me, I can always get up earlier or go to bed later. This eliminates the excuse that I don’t have time to read today.
  4. Apply What I Read: I ask myself everyday, “How can I apply what I just read?”  I read with a pen and highlighter. In every chapter I look for at least one thing that I will apply to my life or ministry.
  5. Journal: After I finish a book I go back through and pull out the highlights, starred items, and best parts of the book and journal about them. I keep a separate journal just for the books that I am reading.
  6. Share What I Read: Every time I read a good book I become an evangelist for the book. I buy extra copies, I share excerpts. I encourage those who would benefit from reading it.
  7. Read with others: I love to recruit others to go through a book with me. This creates a level of accountability. If I know I am going to meet with someone every week, I am going to be much more intentional about reading and internalizing a book.
  8. Read for Fun: I don’t do this all the time, usually once or twice a year while on vacation or in-between very busy seasons when I need to recharge. I will pick up a best selling fiction book. It allows my brain to reboot. I don’t have to think, try to internalize, or be so rigid in how I read it.

What things do you do to be intentional about reading?  Comment below or on Facebook at

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About the Author

Andrew VanDerLinden

Andrew is the Executive Pastor at Community Church in Eastern PA.

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