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December 11, 2020

Books That Grew Us in 2020

This past year has been anything but easy, as countries worldwide experienced a pandemic unlike any other in recent memory. But, quarantine and the forced slowdown of our daily lives had the unexpected benefit of providing limitless opportunities for introspection, and our team used this time to invest in their reading. Here at PHOS, we believe leaders are readers, and many of the books most beloved by our team come from our very own in-house shelves, lovingly dubbed The LeadWell Library. Without further ado, here are the books that impacted our team amid the chaos of 2020, linked so you can check them out for yourself.  

Bailey 

Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It
By Bob Goff 

Partly because Bob Goff is literal sunshine and partly because being in a creative field, you can find yourself too drained to pursue passion projects in your personal life. This book points you to use your creative talents as God intended. Plus, I love the PHOS branding with the yellow cover!

Becca

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
By J.K. Rowling

I used to have an aversion to fiction because I didn’t feel it helped me be productive. If I were going to read something, I wanted it to grow me in a certain area intentionally. I finally read this book, and I found that fiction allows your brain to rest and use your imagination, which made me feel like I could be more creative. Fiction is like a playground for your brain. Thinking that way, without boundaries, is an attitude I want to bring into my projects.

Brandon

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward
By Dr. Henry Cloud

This is my #1 book for 2020. Every chapter felt like a slap-in-the-face wake-up call. We talk a lot about the power of “no,” but why is that so important? 2020 was the great reset for people and businesses, and not everything was supposed to go back to “business as normal.” This book is for people who struggle to end things in their life or leadership.

The Coronavirus and Christ
By John Piper

Because…2020. This book is for every person on the planet.

The Autobiography of J. Hudson Taylor: Missionary to China
By J. Hudson Taylor

I always say I don’t like biographies, then I read one, and it hits deep. This is the story of a faithful man who did extraordinary things for God in China and saw God-sized, country-changing results. This book is for someone who wants to trust God for bigger and better things in their ministry.

Gospel Patrons
By John Rinehart

This is probably book #2 for me this year. These are the stories of people you’ve never heard who funded and fueled all the stories of the people you have heard of – William Tyndale, George Whitefield, and John Newton. This book completely changed my view of generosity and God’s calling for the future of my family’s finances. This book is for someone who feels called to support the ministry God is already doing in and through other people.

The Dream Manager: Achieve Results Beyond Your Dreams by Helping Your Employees Fulfill Theirs
By Matthew Kelly

This has been a huge struggle in my leadership. I struggle with seeing how our mission statement aligns with this book’s message. The struggle has strengthened me, helped me be a better listener, and refocused my leadership more towards helping other people fulfill their dreams. A long way to go, but this book really pushed me further down the road.

The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving
By Randy Alcorn

So convicting and so challenging. This was one of the first tools God used this year to begin to redeem my perspective on money and generosity. This book is for anyone that wants to learn about God-honoring financial stewardship.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
By Austin Channing Brown

I realized how much I wanted to be quick to speak and say, “I’m not racist,” but was challenged by what I was doing to be a part of the solution. This book gave me the language and courage to speak up, speak out, and speak against this issue. I needed a raw, honest view from another person’s seat and this book helped. This book is for anyone who wants to see what racism looks like from a Black person’s perspective.

Rescuing Ambition
By Dave Harvey

There is no other book out there on this topic. How do humility and ambition coexist? If you don’t see the potential struggle there, you won’t like this book. This book is for people who want to be ambitious in a God-pleasing, people-oriented way.

Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God
By Rankin Wilbourne

Meaty, but very rewarding. Beautifully written, at times poetic, this book challenged me to think about something mysterious, something that can only be described and unpacked with analogies and metaphors. This is a book for people who want to read something actually helpful on identity.

The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities
By Patrick M. Lencioni

Lencioni claims this is the first of all his books that you should read. I see that. This is an extremely powerful, quick read with a straightforward, life-changing message about leadership. This book is for everyone who values leadership, especially people who are currently leading others or someone who feels called to lead others in the future.

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.
Margaret Fuller

Caroline 

The Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern

I was late in discovering this book, but I loved it much more than I expected. Haunting, captivating, imaginative, and beautiful, the author uses the circus as a metaphor for self-sacrifice, commitment, and discovering how to best use your gifts. While it didn’t have the traditional happy ending I wanted, I kept thinking about it long after closing it – always a great sign that a book has impacted me. 

The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament
By Edmund P. Clowney

While many Christians, understandably so, focus on the New Testament for accounts of Jesus, reading the Old Testament is paramount to understanding the religious, political, social, and economic climate of the world before Jesus came. Even though He appears only in the New Testament, His coming was foretold and foreshadowed in the preceding books. Seeking to understand the world before Him allows us to more fully see and be impacted by the world after His arrival.   

Chad 

Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some
By John Currence
I like to read cookbooks from time to time, and this one stood out in a sea of mediocrity. Anyone that knows me well knows that I cherish good eating and good writing, and this book doesn’t disappoint with either. To be honest, this is a cookbook that you could easily read cover to cover. Strip the book of all its recipes, and you’re still left with some great cooking philosophy and delightful stories of a man that seems like he would be a blast to hang out with for a day. 

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty
By Joni Eareckson Tada

In a year that many of us struggled with joy and God’s purpose for our lives, this book brought so much perspective. A place of healing is the story of Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman who became a person with quadriplegia after a diving accident. I loved this book because it wasn’t the typical watered down, “sunshine and roses” story.  It’s the account of Joni’s continuous struggle, God’s sovereignty, and what it means to live every day with joy, even in the face of unanswered prayers. It’s raw, authentic, and vulnerable, yet remains biblically sound. This book gave me a greater appreciation of my life and all that God is doing in it. 

How Can I Love Church Members With Different Politics?
By Jonathan Leeman and Andy Naselli 

I can’t remember how I came across this book but, in the political climate that we find ourselves in, I found it to be a helpful resource to think through ways to love my neighbor—even when we don’t agree. At 66 pages, it’s a really quick read but one that couldn’t be more relevant.

Hendrik

Introduction to Cosmology
By Barbara Ryden 

Cosmology is amazing. It’s fascinating to imagine regions of the universe that are so vastly different from what we know that sometimes even seem to defy our knowledge of physics. Fun fact about our closest light bulb (the sun), did you know the sun generates photons in the core, which then take approximately 1 million years to reach its surface? From there, the same photons only take 8 minutes to reach us here on earth.

Ego is the Enemy: The Fight to Master Our Greatest Opponent (The Way, the Enemy and the Key)
By Ryan Holiday 

Our success easily drives our emotions, our actions, and our mindset. If not kept in check, our Ego can prevent us from reaching our potential. This book served as a reminder to stay humble, keep an open mind, and stay a student forever.

The Intelligent Investor
By Benjamin Graham and Jason Zweig

The things they don’t teach you in school seem to be among the most important. The intelligent investor provides investment insight and the knowledge necessary to make sound financial decisions. In my opinion, it’s a must-read for high school and college graduates.

PHOS Knows Books

These are just a few of the books that shaped us in 2020, and we hope we gave you some ideas of books or topics you want to explore more. Did we leave one off our list that you highly recommend? If so, feel free to let us know. Happy 2021 reading to all! 

Caroline Lentz

Caroline Lentz

As a Copywriter, Caroline uses her background in creative writing and education to craft strong, engaging stories, using the magic of the written word to fuel purpose-driven content. She believes every company has an extraordinary tale to tell, and people should be at the heart of every “why.” When not flexing her creative muscles for PHOS, Caroline can be found chasing after her three young sons (and two puppies), hanging out with her husband, watching British mystery shows, reading a great book on the beach, or being active in her church. She loves chocolate, sports, and music, and is a hard-core Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fan.