My Favorite Books? I Am Glad You Asked.

Posted by Jack Warren, Executive Pastor, on Jan 20, 2021

My Favorite Books? I Am Glad You Asked.

Periodically, someone will ask what books have shaped my thinking and impacted me greatly. Books have unlocked key concepts for me in some of the hardest times of my life.

Here are the top six books that God has used to get me “unstuck” during those hard times.

  1. The Bible
    This one sounds like a good Christian response to a typical churchy question, but this book has truly opened my mind to things beyond what we can currently see.

    It has shaped my identity, my values, my understanding of who God is, and my understanding of His relentless pursuit of us. It is life-giving, and it has withstood the test of time, persecution, attempted extermination, textual critics, and more. It is unbelievable and yet credible.

  2. What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
    I grew up in the South and went to church a few times a week. I memorized verses, went to Christian camps, went on mission trips, and did many other church activities. No one never said that we had to earn God’s favor, but it sure felt like that. If I slacked off on Christian duties, I thought God was very displeased with me, and I felt great shame as a result.

    After attending seminary and doing a few years of vocational ministry, I read this book and it changed both my understanding of how God saw me and also my understanding of how I needed to see others. Instead of being motivated by shame and judging others by their merits, I learned to do my best out of a response to God’s love and hopefully, to extend the same grace to others.

    The reality is, we are all undeserving and in need of grace, and God pours it out.

  3. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
    In my early forties, I hit a wall. I found myself in a counselor’s office, barely able to function. I had gotten away from my understanding of grace and was depending on my gifts, skills, insight, and more to control my world. Once I realized I couldn’t control things any longer, I cracked.

    One of the books I read in that season was The Return of The Prodigal Son. I grew up always hearing about how we are like the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable. But what struck me most from this book was Nouwen’s insight that, in reality, I was more like the prodigal’s older brother.

    I realized that I felt as though God owed me for being a good son. I also found that I was quite judgmental of those who looked or acted like the prodigal son. And I rediscovered that there was even grace for me, the judgmental older brother.

  4. Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud
    I read this book in seminary, but I must have done so because it was on the required reading list. I did not take the time to absorb it until I found myself living a boundaryless, co-dependent life that was killing me.

    Through helpful teaching from Townsend and Cloud and through carefully reading and writing chapter summaries of this book, I started changing interactions with family members and with people I served through my job. This was life-changing. It has helped me realize that boundaries aren’t ungodly and selfish, but rather helpful, protective, and life-giving.

  5. People Fuel by John Townsend
    This has been “my book” for the last couple of years. In it, John Townsend gives a clear picture of what a healthy person looks like. He talks about navigating seven different types of relationships; he also helps us understand that we have various needs that can only be met through other people.

    I used to hate having needs and tried to live in denial of them. I also hated to share those needs with others. Once I understood the four quadrants of needs and started addressing them with comrades, I found myself more energized and more free from various stress points in my life.

    I recommend this book every week to different people.

  6. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
    My job often calls me to create teams and help teams to function at a higher level. After hearing Patrick Lencioni talk about teams, I bought his book, read it, and then bought several copies and distributed them to staff leaders. I now use this as a primary textbook for onboarding new staff. I have found his five concepts to be spot-on and extremely helpful for every team.

    The beauty of a Patrick Lencioni book is that it usually includes a one-page summary. He makes complex ideas simple, and I love simple.

    I have friends whose lists of impactful books are much longer than mine—more like a “Top 100” than a top six—due to their ability to read and digest books so quickly. I, on the other hand, am a bit stubborn and get drawn to books out of need and sometimes out of desperation. Whatever your reading pace, I highly recommend the above six books. They have truly been transformative and life-giving to me.

Share This:

Recent Stories

Swipe to Discover more

Keep Calm and Parent On: Back to School Edition

Aug 07, 2022

How can parents help their kids gear up for a great year ahead? By being intentional, we can be the life coaches our kids need to be successful, at school and in life.

How To Survive a High School Lock-In

Aug 03, 2022

What happens when a grown adult is voluntarily locked inside a space with a group of high schoolers for a whole night? Read more, here.

Surprised by Church: A Social Recluse's Journey

Jul 31, 2022

Like faith itself, our relationship with a faith community is a unique one that can shift over time. Read about one person's story of relating to—and being surprised by—the church.

Respite Nights Make a Difference

Jul 28, 2022

The Local Good Center and Chase Oaks Foster Care/Adoption Team are helping to meet huge and often-hidden needs in our own backyard. Read about how they are making a difference, here.

Two Essential Back-to-School Checklists

Jul 24, 2022

BACK TO SCHOOL. Whether those words prompt panic or joy, we all want to make this year a great one for the kids. Use the following two checklists (one for “checking off” and one for “checking in”) to make sure everyone is ready to go!

A Process for Making Wise Decisions

Jul 21, 2022

Great decision-making is a critical leadership skill. Chase Oaks Executive Pastor Jack Warren shares a simple, proven process for how to make wise decisions.

Discovering a Passion for Mental Health

Jul 17, 2022

Cindy Park's path has led her from personal counseling to pursuing a new career as a professional counselor. Read more about her journey and newfound passion for mental health, here.

5 Reflection Questions To End Each Day

Jul 10, 2022

How can we prioritize mental and emotional health more? One time-tested way: building a regular habit of self-reflection. Start by asking yourself these 5 simple questions at the end of each day.

How To Be an Influencer Who Leads Others

Jul 07, 2022

Being an "influencer" can mean many different things. Executive Pastor Jack Warren shares key steps for leaders to grow in the kind of influence that puts others first.

Seeking God Together at IF:Chase Oaks 2022

Jul 05, 2022

Life's never too busy for spiritual health! IF:Chase Oaks 2022 provided over 200+ women a welcome break to seek God and connection with others, together.