2017 was an interesting year historically for sure, with the debut of the Trump Administration, a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, Bitcoin making its run into the mainstream, and Apple’s newest phone having facial recognition. Did I mention The Last Jedi came to theaters? It did.
In all of that, I read some books that were AMAZING and different from each other. So here is my definitive list of the Best of 2017.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor Martyr Prophet Spy, Eric Metaxas
Eric Metaxas takes on this biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor in Germany right as Hitler is coming to power. This is the longest read I have completed in awhile, but well worth it. Metaxas takes it on like a novel, setting the stage with a clear lesson of history and what led to the rise of the Third Reich. He parallels that with the story of Bonhoeffer, and how his passion for Jesus and the Church at large enter a collision course. I finished the book with tears in my eyes, because 1, it ended; and 2, it made me want to live to be a better man.
Bonhoeffer is known as an author of some of the last century’s most brilliant Christian works, including Ethics and Life Together. He was incredibly intelligent and incredibly brave. His efforts caused the national church to take a stand against the State-run church, which was being absolutely corrupted by the Nazi regime. Prison and death were clearly in his path as a consequence for his faith and bravery, but his legacy is ongoing.
The Case For Jesus, Brandt Pitre
Not to be confused with the classic, The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel (which is also great), The Case For Jesus is an apologetic against the current high intellect attack on the authority of the scriptures and the death and resurrection of Christ. It is easily understood, and makes a great read for those heading to college, where Christianity and its documents are routinely undermined. Similar books are much larger and heavier, unnecessarily so. This book is mid-sized, and designed to help the common man to understand. This may make it into the “I will read this again” pile. Your faith in Jesus, the Bible and the historical validation of those will be invigorated.
Good To Great, Jim Collins
Realizing that this has been a classic since it was released in 2001, I decided to tackle it in 2017, as part of my “leadership” book category reads. It is truly a remarkable work. Jim Collins assembled a team, did research for years and discerned the findings not to fit a premise he liked, but to fit the truth of the matter. That matter specifically is, why do some companies make it big in the long haul, while others don’t?
Collins brings to light 11 companies that made the cut, and compares them to others in similar fields that did not succeed for the duration, and the contrast is striking. Amazing life lessons, and business and leadership lessons abound in the pages as well. Ideas that are often quoted—the hedgehog, getting the right people on the bus, and the flywheel—all have their origination in this well-written book.
Leadership Pain, Sam Chand
Sam Chand is a leadership expert, corporate coach, and a devout Christian. Leadership Pain was written primarily for lead pastors. If you are leading a company or organization, this work would have significant meaning for you as well. His premise is “if you’re not hurting, you’re not leading” and “You’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain.” Pain for leaders is normal, and can cause us to learn what we otherwise would not. Ripe with real life stories of pastors that you have heard of, the book lays out honest ways that pain hits leaders.
This book has special value for me personally, as it came in my life at a time where I didn’t think I could bear any more “pain.” It was a healing balm to my soul, and gave me courage to move forward as a pastor and leader.
Rooted, Banning Liebscher
As a pastor and leader on a national scale, Banning is incredible in his ability to communicate and to bring life and light to needed topics in the church today. All cards on the table...Banning is a personal friend and a mentor. His leadership and pastoring heart come out in this easy to read book called Rooted. Rooted covers the three “soils” that every Christian needs to allow in their life: the soil of intimacy, the soil of serving and the soil of community.
Rooted is a phenomenal devotional book for any Christian. The areas that Banning addresses hit with wisdom and precision and they tackle the attitudes that this younger generation deals with. Rooted is my number one pick for the year. Regardless of who you are, or your position in life, you will come away with life-changing challenges for your relationship with Jesus.