If I’ve heard it one time, I’ve heard it a million times . . .
- “How do you expect men in a Radical Mentoring group to read nine books over nine months?”
- “But men aren’t readers . . .”
- “Men are too busy with work and family activities to consider something with this much reading.”
The median American reads four books per year. And that’s not just a stat; I could back it up with anecdotal evidence from my conversations.
On the other hand, we all perceive the importance of reading and have heard leaders speak to the power of reading . . .
- “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” –Harry Truman
- “I read books.” –Elon Musk, when asked how he learned to build rockets
- “Read 500 pages . . . every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up like compound interest.” –Warren Buffet
We all have full calendars. And by the time we do get in bed, it’s easier to fall asleep than open up a book. Trust me, I get it . . . I have two boys ages 9 and 12. But I also know, based on surveys and feedback from our mentors and churches, that over 6,000 men have completed the Radical Mentoring process . . . including reading a book a month.
So, how did that happen? What’s the secret? A few observations . . .
- Clear Expectations – When men join a group, they know what’s expected. Mandatory attendance and mandatory homework completion . . . including Scripture memory, relational and personal assignments and reading a book and writing a one-page net-out. Set the bar high and hold them to it.
- Book choice matters – Be reasonable . . . somewhere in between Dr. Seuss and War and Peace. We recommend starting with Bo’s Café. Why? Because it’s a novel, which creates a comfortable entry point and allows men to connect with at least one part of the main character Stephen’s narrative, helping them see the power of their When I look at an end-of-season survey and see that the Bonhoeffer biography was “least beneficial,” I’m not surprised a bit.
- Men love a challenge – Many of us haven’t read a book or turned in a report since high school or college. At least not one where our intent was learning. Since then, we haven’t been asked to read, so we stopped. Challenging men to step outside their comfort zone is an integral part of each mentoring group . . . men will step up to the challenge.
Back in 2002, I was in the same position as many mentees. Newly married, no kids, and no habits that pointed me to Jesus. Then I (somewhat unknowingly) joined a mentoring group and reshaped my immature view on my marriage, my opinion of myself, and, most importantly, my faith. During this yearlong journey, I memorized Scripture and completed homework assignments, which were deeply impactful. But even more meaningful were the books I read and the healthy reading habits I formed.
I never believed I would be a reader. And truthfully, without my mentoring group, I wouldn’t be.
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