Have you ever had a conversation that deeply impacted you? I’ve been blessed with a few of them in my life. In fact, one occurred a few weeks ago at the preaching seminar I attended called, “Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching.” I applied for this seminar because I struggle to read enough and I was looking for some encouragement and accountability in this area. Recently my father-in-law saw me reading a book in my study at home. He stood in the door, shaking his head, grinning, and said: “Playing with books? That wouldn’t do it for me!” I responded: “Books are the tools of my trade, Dad! I don’t read enough of them!” This humorous incident reminded me of my ongoing struggle to read often and well as a pastor. There’s always another task to accomplish or a telephone call to make, etc., to keep you from your reading. I had the opportunity to share this concern with one of the seminar instructors. I was pleasantly surprised by his response. He encouraged me to aim for quality over quantity in my reading. First, immerse yourself in Scripture. It’s the Word of Life! But also read other authors, especially authors of young adult fiction, so that you’ll learn how to “cut the widest swath in your congregation” as far as communication is concerned. Also, take the time to harvest quotes that you can refer back to in the future. This short conversation may not seem like much to you, but it was the one I’ve been waiting for all my (pastoral) life. I left it feeling grateful, relieved and instructed. Now as I move forward in pastoral ministry, I’m more determined than ever to read, but to read differently: often and leisurely, with a lighter heart and an alert mind, listening for God to speak through the pages of Scripture and other books, and ready to harvest any and all memorable and meaningful quotes. I thank God this new realization, and for my wise and godly instructor, who, although a highly respected teacher and preacher in the Christian Reformed Church, took the time to help a discouraged young pastor. I pray that I’ll be able to do the same some day.