If you are an assistant pastor, you wear a lot of hats. That is not to say the senior pastor doesn’t. However, the assistant pastor’s role, by definition, is to assist the senior pastor with different ministry responsibilities. I think it is the best job in the world! It can be unpredictable, exciting, and fulfilling. However, after 10 years of being an assistant pastor, I have come to learn that many of the struggles we experience are predictable, understandable, and usually correct-able.
While I have a long way to go in learning, these six books have probably done more for my ability to grow in my role than any others.
- Productivity: Getting Things Done by David Allen is the standard. If you want to stop dropping the ball—this is your book. This book did more to help me navigate my work flow than any other book. You will learn the efficiency of the calendar, contact list, task list and project list. Your job is getting done what you are supposed to, when you are supposed to, how you are supposed to. This book will help you build trust with your pastor.
- Identity: Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller is one of the most gospel centered books on work that I have ever read. How often do you go home thinking you didn’t do enough? Frustrated that your work day ended before your task list did? While I wouldn’t agree with all of his theology, this book has some perspective setting principles about how you should view your life in ministry (or any other role). This book helped me grow in matching my theology with my schedule and work ethic.
- Creativity: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath is one of my new favorite books. This is not a Christian book (not all of these are), but this is a fascinating read. There is a difference between getting something done and getting something done right. When I was younger I thought I just needed pastor to tell me what to do, and I would do it. The truth is that it may start there… but only until you build trust and evidence that you are becoming an expert in your role. That is what your pastor really wants. I promise. If he always has the best idea…he probably doesn’t need you. This book will inspire you to come up with new and exciting ways to implement your pastor’s vision.
- Initiative: Start by Jon Acuff is all about progress! This book is for the person who has big ideas and big projects but they stay dreams. Pretty much anything by Jon Acuff is going to help you get things done and grow forward, but this book helps you to simply START! If you are like me, most of the time the “idea” of the project is daunting. Once I actually start making progress on a project it is not nearly as bad, or as big, as it was in my mind. This book will help you crush that mindset and get moving forward!
- Ownership: QBQ: The Question Behind The Question by John G. Miller. In my opinion every person under 40 needs to read this book. This book will help you mature as an owner. This was the first book I had to read when I got into ministry, and I am forever thankful. It is a short read, but if you consider its challenge—you will never make an excuse for failure or blame someone else again. This may sound crazy but you will earn more respect and trust when you “own” the mess. You show maturity, self-awareness, and teach-ability. All things that make you attractive to a leader.
- Leadership: How to Lead When You’re Not In Charge by Clay Scroggins is the newest book on my list. I wish I would have read this 8 years ago! This book is highly practical and will absolutely help your relationship with your pastor. It really covers all these topics above at a higher altitude. However, this book helped me see poor thinking habits and areas that I am making excuses for my lack of leadership. The truth is most great leaders and pastors want to empower you to lead. The mindset that “because you aren’t the senior pastor you can’t lead like you want” is a lie that Satan will use to keep you from reaching your full potential.
I am no expert…and with the millions of books out there it is impossible to say there is a “best” book on a subject. However, these changed my life in pivotal ways. I hope they can be a help to you as you lead and grow in Christ.
It should go without saying, but no book beyond the word of God is inerrant. The best leader, the most productive person, the most creative teacher was Jesus…so don’t ever drift from that. However, truth is given by God in so many ways and I hope these will be as helpful for you as they were for me.