In his counsel to ministers on their general reading habits Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones strongly recommends keeping up with academic studies. He warns ministers against thinking “they have acquired all they need” when they finish school. “I have known men in the ministry, and men in various other walks of life who stop reading when they finish their training…The result is that they vegetate and become quite useless. Keep on reading; and read the big works” (Preaching and Preachers, p. 177).
What big works does the Doctor prescribe? “The first is theology…The preacher should continue to read theology as long as he is alive. The more he reads the better, and there are many authors and different systems to be studied” (p. 177). The biography by Iain Murray records that Lloyd-Jones discovered such treasures as Jonathan Edwards and B.B. Warfield in local libraries while on vacation in
The Doctor also stresses
the importance of reading Church history…It is of much greater value to the preacher than to the student. And he needs to be reminded constantly of the great facts. In exactly the same way one should continue to read biographies and the journals of men of God, especially these men who have been greatly used as preachers—Whitefield, the Wesleys and so on…The more you read along those lines the better equipped you will be. All this, remember, comes under the heading of the preparation of yourself (p. 177).
With all the different types of reading he recommends, the Doctor also prescribes balance; and that for two reasons. The first is to avoid an imbalance that might result in intellectual pride.
The danger for the intellectual type of man, if he is only reading theology or philosophy, is to become puffed up…the best thing he can do when he feels that he knows all, and is elated and tempted to intellectual pride, is to pick up say the Journals of George Whitefield. There he will read of how that man was used of God in
The other reason why Lloyd-Jones counsels balanced reading is for the sake of your health.
One should always be reading along these differing lines daily. I have developed a sort of routine which I think is sound and profitable almost from the physical standpoint as well as the other. If I am reading the stiffer and the more difficult books, or the more directly theological books in the morning, I read the other types at night…It does not matter so much when you are young—at that stage you can do almost anything you like and still sleep—but as you get older you will find that it is not quite so easy…So balance your reading for all these reasons (pp. 179-180).
If we want to be healthy spiritually and physically, the Doctor orders balanced reading.