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Would you recommend these three books to your fellow pastors? (Ambro/Free Digital Photos)

Pastors typically—and hopefully—spend much time in the Bible. That is good; Bible reading should be a high priority. Many pastors spend much time reading Christian books, particularly weighty books on theology and doctrine. That, too, is good and should be a priority for the pastor.

But should pastors read secular books? I do believe there are a number of secular books that would truly be good resources for the pastor. There are three business books I regularly encourage pastors to read. Those who lead our churches unfortunately have little leadership training. These three classics are incredible leadership resources for pastors to savor and read slowly.

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

This book has been around for almost half a century, and it is still powerfully relevant today. Drucker identifies five essentials necessary for leadership effectiveness:

  • Managing time
  • Choosing what to contribute to the organization
  • Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect
  • Setting the right priorities
  • Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making

Every pastor could look at this book as a course in practical leadership training. Rarely are these topics taught in Bible colleges or seminaries.

Leading Change by John P. Kotter

Probably the best book on change leadership, this book has not lost any of its punch since it was first published in 1996.  Every pastor will lead a congregation to some type of change. Kotter offers an eight-step process for leading change in any organization, including a local congregation. This book became a precursor to other books on change and innovation.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Though this book was published in 2001, it continues to be a best-seller today. Every chapter has valuable insights for the pastor, but the chapter on Level 5 Leadership is my favorite. Though Collins makes no claims of being a Christian, there is much about this book that has biblical themes throughout. A pastor will find this book invaluable for both organizational leadership as well as personal leadership development.

There are probably 25 business books I could recommend to pastors. But these three are the only ones in that genre that I read every year. And every time I read the books again, I learn something new.

I would love to hear what you think of these three books. I would also like to hear about any secular business or leadership books you would recommend for pastors.

Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit

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