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At the start of the new year, I reached out to our blog authors to ask for their recommendations for their favorite books. As usual, I received many wonderful suggestions. In no particular order, here are some of the books WLCE contributors are reading this year:

Help! I Work with People: Getting Good at Influence, Leadership, and People Skills by Chad Veach (2020, Bethany House Publishers)—”I greatly enjoy leadership books, and this one helped me to understand myself a bit more. I especially liked his focus on the danger of not making “people skills” about ourselves rather than being focused on other people. His teaching about the definition and importance of care and connection was enlightening to me.”

Worship as One by Barbara J. Newman (2022, Amazon Pro Hub)—”Barbara J. Newman brings all of her experiences in inclusive community to the topic of worshiping with people of all abilities, laying out a simple plan and reviewing it step by step. Not only is her advice well organized, it is inspiring and practical!”

You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly M. Kapic (2022, Brazos Press)—”For over-achievers (most leaders in schools!), our limits are something negative that we strive to overcome. But at the end of the day, we realize we can’t do it all—and that’s actually a good (or a God!) thing. This book shifts our thinking in important ways, to reframe our limits as blessings from God to His created beings, if we allow them to increase our dependence on God and our recognition that we need each other.”

Future Ready by Lynn E. Swaner, Jon Eckert, Erik Ellefsen, and Matthew H. Lee (2022, ACSI and CARDUS)—”I have been eagerly anticipating this book for quite some time. What I love about it is that rather than expecting any one school to do everything perfectly, it grabs the best ideas from a variety of school contexts. We can all find something to learn in this book!”

Love + Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life by Marcus Buckingham (2002, Harvard Business Review Press)—”No workplace is perfect, and every role has its challenges. But, this very readable book (from the co-creator of Gallup Strengthsfinder) helps to think through what really motivates you—what you love—and how you can spend most (if not all) of your time at work weaving those “red threads” into the tapestry of your career.”

Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah (2019, IVP Books)—”This book is North American Christian history as told by a member of the Navajo nation. The author explains how the church helped propagate the dehumanization of Native peoples in North America.”

The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth by Beth Allison Barr (2021, Brazos Press)—”Historian Barr takes readers on a deep dive into a historical study of Christianity , gender and how we have arrived at our current understandings. I found the book insightful, challenging, encouraging, discouraging, and transformative—one of those books that sticks with you and that you find yourself referencing in future conversations.”

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Dr. Bruce D. Perry (2017, Basic Books)—”Dr. Perry shares true accounts of childhood trauma, its impact on brain development, and how to facilitate healing.”

God, Grades, & Graduation: Religion’s Surprising Impact on Academic Success by Ilana M. Horowitz (2002, Oxford University Press)—”This book demonstrates through rigorous research that religious upbringing really does have a positive impact on academic achievement, including for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is a fascinating read that makes a compelling case for the role of faith in educational outcomes, and is an encouragement to anyone involved in faith-based education like Christian schools.”

From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur Brooks (2022, Portfolio)—”I’ve recommended this book to all of my friends who are Gen-X leaders like me. Brooks uses neuroscience to examine how our brains change over time and what that means in terms of shifting our careers and leadership. We can find flourishing during the second half of our careers if we are intentionally generative through mentorship, collegiality, and collaboration.”

Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda by Henry & Richard Blackaby (2001, B&H Books)—”This is a classic, but it is filled with wisdom and timely principles. Blackaby pulls no punches: he says it clearly and directly. It is full of Scripture  as well, so it is a great companion for my time with the Lord.”

Leading Insights: Mental Health and Well-Being edited by Lynn E. Swaner (2022, ACSI)—”I was thrilled to find this book and believe it is a necessary read for anyone feeling burned out in education right now. It’s a reminder that not only are we called to the well-being of our students, we are called to attend to the well-being of ourselves and our colleagues, too.”

How We Love Matters: A Call to Practice Relentless Racial Reconciliation by Albert Tate (2022, FaithWords)—”A call to live and love as a family of God.”

Resilient: Restoring Your Weary Soul in These Turbulent Times by John Eldredge (2022, Thomas Nelson) —”This was a gift from a team member and a source of inspiration to me in this cultural moment. A quick, almost devotional-esque read, the author walks through his own pandemic-related experiences and shares true stories—his own and those of others—to inspire us to look to Jesus for the strength to fight exhaustion in this day and age.”

Five Little Indians: A Novel by Michelle Good (2020, Harper Perennial)—”A fictional account of five children who survived the residential school system in Canada.  The book follows them from the time they left the school in adulthood.  The novel gave me a glimpse into the lingering trauma and the intergenerational impact of residential schools and while not overly graphic, also does not shy away from the describing reality.”

How to Inhabit Time: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future, Living Faithfully Now by James K.A. Smith (2022, Brazos Press)—”This new book by Jamie Smith does not disappoint! Just like You Are What You Love before it, this incredibly insightful book is a must read for those seeking authentic discipleship and formation of themselves and others, in and through Christ. Smith tackles the challenge of “no-when” Christianity, or the illusion plaguing most Christians today—that our faith stands apart from history and is independent of it. Rather, the eternal truths of Christianity are nonetheless historically rooted and contextually expressed, as are its faith expressions across eras and cultures. Smith shows how rather than being something to deny or ignore, the time-fulness of Christianity reflects God’s sovereignty, mystery, beauty, and love, all of which we can engage more deeply through the insights in this thoughtful book.”

What books are we missing? Share your favorites in the comments!

Author Becki Rust

Becki Rust is the Thought Leadership Project Manager at the Association of Christian Schools International, where she leads project management for a wide variety of innovative and timely initiatives, programs, and events. She also serves as editor for the ACSI Blog and the WLCE Blog. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King’s College in New York City.

More posts by Becki Rust

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