6 books that changed my life

We’re in the midst of back to school madness here in Central Indiana. That’s right. It isn’t even August yet and Summer Break is already over! Long gone are the days of starting after Labor Day and ending before Memorial Day. If I’m honest, I usually like the new balanced calendar – except when we get to the end of a not-long-enough Summer and wonder what happened to the kids’ break. And since Mihret has been asking us how many days until school starts since…oh…the last day of school, let’s just say that the early advent of the school year is not necessarily an unwelcome development.

Readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmatic are about to be in full swing here in the Todd household. So in the spirit of going back to school for getting a head full of knowledge and stuff, I’d like to share with you some of the books that have had a big impact on me over the years. Because of the way they changed my outlook, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to say that they changed my lif. Some of them were books I read in college. Others were read more recently. Sorry, high school teachers. None of the books I read while under your tutelage made the cut. It’s nothing personal. I promise. I was challenged by several teachers during my high school career. In fact, I’m still challenged by some of the things they said.

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand. Here they are, in no particular order…

6 Books That Changed My LIfe

Art & the Bible
by Francis Schaeffer
This book is small. It’s a little bit larger than a pamphlet. Its message, however, forever changed how I approach creativity and using God-given talents for His glory. The big takeaway for me? We are created in the image of the Creator. We were created to create. It’s what we were made to do.

I was introduced to this book by Dr. Alex Wainer during my Junior year in college. After I read it, I put it down and asked, “Why hadn’t anyone shown me this book before?” After all, I was majoring in Communication at the time. At a Christian school. In my opinion, this was a book that should be read by everyone in every department of the school that is remotely arts-related.

I’ve gotten rid of a lot of my books from undergrad. This book, however, is one that will always remain on my bookshelf. It’s a relatively quick read, but it has challenged me in ways that very few books have.

7 Practices of Effective Ministry
by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones
I read this as a book for church leadership, but it’s had an impact on how I approach leadership in general. It’s because of this book that you’ll often hear me say things like:

“Clarify the Win.”


“Celebrate the Win.”

These are so important. The book is worth the price just for the first chapter alone.

Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication
by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones
Communicating for a Change is one of the reasons I stopped trying to come up with a three-point sermon.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t try to do many lists or multiple-point posts on my blog. We’re moving into an age of communication – one that I’ll probably talk about in an upcoming post (I think this is fascinating stuff). While having lists might help with the Google searches, a post with a single point that’s approached by several different angles is more focused and is more memorable in the long-run.

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking
by Susan Cain
Quiet¬†reminded me that it’s OK to be an introvert. It’s OK to be sensitive to other introverts. You don’t have to be an extrovert in order to change the world.

I wish every church leader would get his/her hands on a copy of this book. It could encourage much healthier churches. It also could improve a church’s track record in regards to retaining visitors – especially visitors who happen to be introverts.

It should probably be a must-read for managers and HR professionals, too. I think the book would be pretty eye-opening and could positively impact the morale of many offices.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
by Mark Batterson
Inspired by the relatively obscure story of Benaiah in the Old Testament, In a Pit with a Lion challenges you to step out on faith and chase that God-given dream.

Even if it means jumping into a pit with a lion.


Roaring Lambs
by Bob Briner
I was introduced to this book in Comm 101: Intro to Mass Media by Professor Mattingly. It completely revolutionized my understanding of the meaning of “salt.” It’s not just to “add flavor,” it’s a preservative, pushing back against the forces of decay.

See? Pretty revolutionary.

And it changes everything.

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
by Brennan Manning
Up until I read this book in the Summer of 1997, I thought grace was something you had to earn. I thought you had to be worthy of forgiveness. Brennan Manning wrecked that understanding. He also wrecked me in the process. I will never look at God’s love the same way again.

And that’s a good thing.

What about you?

Well, there you have it. These 6 books have had a tremendous impact on my life. They have helped shape me into who I am today.

I know what you’re thinking. I listed 7 books. I kind of lump the two Andy Stanley books together. They’re kind of like 1a and 1b. That’s my story, anyway. And I’m sticking with it.

What about you? What books have changed the way you think, believe, or act? What books have had a profound impact on your life?

Maybe I should add them to my reading list.

Please note: The links to the books are affiliate links. That means that if you click the link and choose to purchase the book, our family gets a very small percentage of the proceeds. These links had no impact on the books I chose. Believe me, if I did, I’d have chosen books like Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications, Four-Volume Set. Obviously, I’m better than that.

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Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

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