Challenge 2: Read Pilgrim’s Progress
The second challenge is to spend one hour each week (that's only 8.5 minutes a day) reading John Bunyan's classic book Pilgrim's Progress in modern English.
In Pilgrim’s Progress a man will find a roadmap that outlines the basic path that every Christian follows from conversion to death. Spurgeon allegedly read this book every year. In fact, he called Pilgrim’s Progress ‘the Bible in another form.’ So it is: the substance of the Bible rewritten as the story of an individual Christian. In writing the book Bunyan did a miracle of cartography. He combined the lived experience of normal Christians with the unchanging truth of God’s word so that an itinerary of faith was published. Every Christian man needs to study this road map.
But some of you will say, ‘I don’t have time to read!’ Guys, here are five ways to make time:
Read whenever you are bored and waiting - bus stops, check out lines, waiting for a meeting or class, during commercial breaks, and so on. A godly man never has an excuse to be bored.
Don't allow yourself to watch TV until after you have read for at least 15 minutes.
Read a few pages before going to sleep at night.
Read while you eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Dedicate extra time to read on Sundays. Sundays are a great opportunity to allot more time to spiritual activities that we don't get done during the rest of the week.
The challenge this month is to invest one hour each week reading Pilgrim's Progress. How can ordinary guys who have busy schedules and prefer dentist appointments to reading get this done? The answer is by baby-steps. An hour a week is less than 10 minutes each day. Everyone can get that done.
Louis L'Amour, the famous writer of Western stories, read over 100 books a year during the Great Depression while working odd jobs and having fistfights. How did he do it? He never wasted a spare minute on trivia or boredom. The same was true of Spurgeon (using time, not fistfights). According to Spurgeon's friends, his secret for getting so much done in the brief span of 57 years was that 'he was never idle.' Spare minutes were collected so that they became hours, hours became days, and over lifetime of work the spare change of time amounted to great deeds of service.
Guys, I'm not asking you to become a pack-mule that never takes a break. The point is simply that all of us are throwing away at least 10 minutes a day that could be invested in reading a life-changing book.
Men, this is our last week of challenge 2. Do not worry if you do not finish Pilgrim's Progress. Spiritual leaders are not made in months, but years, even decades. A successful outcome of this challenge will be, if at the end, you add reading Bunyan's classic to your list of 'must-do's' and return to finish the book once the decathlon has ended. The aim of the decathlon is not to graduate leaders, but to give men a taste of the kinds of disciplines which over a much longer period of time promote and enable leadership.