Want to grow as a leader in 2012? Want some inspirational reading? I could name a number of books that would motivate and equip, but actually the books I’d really recommend are books in the New Testament of the bible – and 3 in particular.

1) Gospels

I’d recommend that you read at least one of the 4 accounts of the life of Jesus – one of the 4 gospels, for Jesus was the greatest leader who ever lived. You could start, say, with ‘Luke’, who is not afraid to present some of Jesus’ most challenging teaching against hypocritical leaders of the day. In the gospels Jesus speaks to leaders and to those concerned about being ‘great’ by pointing to himself. ’I am among you’ he says, ‘as one who serves’ (Luke 22:27). As you read the gospels, be inspired by Jesus who shows us that effective leadership is about getting your hands dirty.

2) 1&2 Timothy

Timothy was a young leader in the early church and St Paul writes 2 letters to him, which are full of mature advice and wisdom. Timothy is encouraged to keep doing the basics well. For example, he’s told: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example… in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity’ (1 Tim 4:12).

3) Philippians

This is a lovely, encouraging, short four-chapter letter. The author, St Paul, says at the beginning that not only is he writing in general to followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi, but he’s also writing to the leaders of the community (1:1). This means that he especially has leaders in mind as he writes. If you are a leader, and a church leader in particular, I’d encourage you to read and re-read Philippians. Even learn it, or chunks of it. It will nourish you and resource you ‘so that you may be able to discern’ not just what is good, but ‘what is best’ (Phil 1:10).

If you are a leader, you would do well to set aside some time each day to prayerfully read a section from the bible. If you do that, you’ll read a lot more than these 3 books in 2012. But if you don’t know where to start in the New Year, go for these 3 books. As Paul says to Timothy, reading Scripture in this way will really help you be ‘thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (2 Tim 3:17).