Recently I’ve been enjoying reading about the lives of a couple of influential Christians.
I’ve realised that although I read quite a lot of books, I rarely read Christian biographies, and I’ve benefitted a lot already by adding a few into my literary diet!
The nosy part of me enjoys a glimpse into someone else’s world, but I have a few other good reasons that I want to share, in the hope that you too will add a Christian bio’ or two to your reading list.
So here you go – Five reasons – let me know if I convince you!
1. They are a great source of encouragement
A good Christian biography usually demonstrates that the true hero of the story is God. It’s so encouraging to see that God is willing and able to use normal fallible people like you and I in his service. I love reading about dramatic or impossible situations where God steps in, and about the unlikely people who end up doing amazing things in his strength.
2. They remind me to “fight the good fight”
This life is short and quickly over, Christian biographies encourage me to live for God while I have the opportunity, instead of getting sidetracked by many good but ultimately worthless goals. They remind me to be prayerfully on the lookout for how God might want to use me.
3. They restore my realism.
I can easily develop an idealistic and even ungodly expectation of my life here on earth – that it will be problem-free, featuring blessing after blessing, as long as I follow God faithfully. Reading the stories of faithful Christians reminds me that we are not exempt from the troubles of life, that many Christians experience deep suffering. But that they are also sustained by someone much greater than themselves, and look forward to a glorious future with Jesus Christ. By reading about those who have gone before I can keep going and see God’s faithfulness proved when the difficulties come.
4. I learn from the spiritual lessons of others
Reading biographies is a great way to grow spiritually if you pick well. You get to learn from the experiences, mistakes, and successes of other Christians, and sometimes hear in their own words how they dealt with them, and how God taught them.
5. I learn about the history of the church
I’ve read a mixture of books about Christians from the past, and those alive today. They are all helpful, but reading about the lives of Christians from past generations can be useful in learning about Christian history, and widening my understanding of things outside my own context. It’s been great to learn a bit more about the Reformation, the history of missions, the role of Christians in British history, and more from the biographies I’ve read so far.
What do you think? Any reasons you would add? Any Biographies you’d recommend?
Here are a few to get you started:
My Heart in His Hands by Sharon James
The story of Anne Judson, missionary to Burma. I read this book over a weekend it was so hard to put down, a dramatic and compelling story! Based on Ann’s diaries it’s a humbling and challenging insight into the life of a women who trusted God to use her as he wished, bringing great spiritual fruit from her life at great cost.
Get it here
David Brainerd – May I never Loiter on My Heavenly Journey by John Piper
A short biography of one of the first missionaries. “Brainerd’s life is a vivid, powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use weak, sick, discouraged, beat-down, lonely, struggling saints, who cry to him day and night, to accomplish amazing things for his glory” (p. 9).
Get free e-book version here
On Giants’ Shoulders by Mike Reeves
This is a book that introduces you to the lives and influence of key Christians from the past, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards. If you’ve heard these names but don’t really know who these people are, this is a great book to start with. Reeves makes each of them come alive in an engaging and entertaining way.
You can get it here