Reading to serve others

Tim Challies has a helpful post on ‘Reading out of love for others’. I think he makes good points under the following headings:

  • Read to grow
  • Read to understand
  • Read to recommend
  • Read to disciple
  • Read to warn

I particularly like the idea of reading with others, turning a solitary experience into one that builds community. I hope to work on this more.

One further way in which I would hope readers can love others (which is perhaps implied in Tim Challies’s fourth point on discipleship) is to train others to become good and discerning readers for themselves. It is one thing to recommend certain books to others or to warn of potential problems with certain books, but the ideal situation would be that people read various books and recognise for themselves the strengths and weaknesses of each book. Of course, this may mean that people come to different conclusions on what are strengths and what are weaknesses. But ultimately each person will be better equipped to make wise and informed judgements if they are able to apply a set of evaluative criteria to everything they read.

So perhaps, in addition to loving others according to Challies’s valuable suggestions, readers can also consider how they might pass on good practice in reading books sympathetically and critically to others.