Do you think an hour long conversation could alter the trajectory of someone’s life? What about a five minute conversation? What about one sentence?
My friend, Bill Sloan, spoke one sentence to me that forever changed the trajectory of my life. I have never been the same. I will never be the same. My life is richer, fuller, and better in every way because of that one sentence.
My life is a long way from perfect, but it is better. I am healthier, my relationships are better, I have accomplished more, I enjoy my relationship with God more, I am a better father–about a hundred other things are better–because Bill spoke into my life.
What was this sentence? Well, first a little context. It was my second year in college. I was bragging that I had never ever read a single solitary book outside of assigned class reading. It was a point of pride for me. I was firmly entrenched in the non-reader camp. I liked it that way. Readers? I had lots of bad thoughts about readers, and I was not about to be named among them. Bill made one sentence that forever changed all that.
“You are just cutting yourself off from so much knowledge,” he pleaded. I am not sure what it was about those 10 words that got my attention, but they certainly did. Not that I changed instantly to become an avid reader, but I did make the one change that made all of the other changes possible. I read one book. I liked it so well I read another, and another, and another.
Whatever good things have come my way, whatever success I have enjoyed, to whatever degree I have been able to do things right, I owe much of it to the habit that developed out of those 10 words.
It is fair to say I have read thousands of books on a variety of topics. I purchase and read books constantly. When I walk out the door, I usually have my keys, my cell phone, my wallet, and a book.
One of my children’s fond memories is walking in a Barnes and Noble with me and pausing just as we enter, saying: “Ah, smell those books!”
I knew I had found a soul mate when one of my hosts for a conference took my by a Barnes and Noble once. As soon as we walked in the door he stopped us and said, “Ah, smell those books!”
I think if Paul ever went into a book store he would have stopped as he entered the door and said, “Ah, smell those books.” Look what he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:13: “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
Howard Hendricks said, “If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow.” Teach from a full cup. Let people drink from a living stream.
Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty.”
Howard Hendricks, Teaching to Change Lives (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1987) 18.
Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, The Seven Laws of the Learner, Course Workbook (Atlanta: Walk Thru the Bible, 1988) 8.